Kindergarten: My Thoughts on the Full Day Change
Ann Arbor Public Schools are switching to full day kindergarten district wide. This year, a full-day kindergarten is the only option at several schools. At other schools, half-day kindergarten is the norm with a paid option for full-day and/or the K-care program (provided there is sufficient interest). Personally, I am thrilled that they are changing to a consistent district-wide policy. I thought it was ridiculous that just by living a few blocks in a different direction you would have to pay $3500 for what someone else was getting for free.
When my daughter was a baby, I was glad that Ann Arbor had half-day Kindergarten. Half-day kindergarten is what I was used to growing up. However, as she got older, I realized she would be ready for full day kindergarten and was leaning that way. However, the school she goes to has a half-day program and since we did not need child-care could not justify spending the extra $3500. This year she is in half-day kindergarten and I see definite disadvantages to half-day kindergarten.
|The First Day of Kindergarten|
After nearly 6 months of school, I still think a full-day kindergarten would have been a good choice for her. While she was still tired at the beginning of the year from getting up early, I think she would have adjusted quickly. One problem that we have had is that most of her friends who are not in her current class are in either all-day or afternoon kindergarten so she is often bored in the afternoon and looking for something to do. There are very few classes that I can sign her up for in the afternoon since those are mostly for pre-schoolers.
I have been helping out in my daughter’s class every other week. I usually help the day my daughter’s class has both gym and computer lab, so the actual classroom time is really short with two specials. From my observations as a parent, not an educator and without regard to the cost/logistical implications.
Disadvantages to Half-Day
- Kids miss all school activities that are held during the opposite class. My daughter’s school splits events so that some are in the morning and others are in the afternoon. I have brought my daughter back for several events so that she can still participate.
- A half-day is very broken up with specials leaving less time for learning.
- Less free time with their classmates
- Many kids spend the remainder of the day in aftercare, K-care, or other care situation so there would be consistency of having them remain with the same teacher, classroom, and classmates
- It is harder to participate in after school activities since it requires returning to school (if you are in the morning class)
- Field Trip scheduling is hard with half-day classes. When my daughter’s class has a field trip they typically return after the normal end of the school day. Conversely, they leave before the afternoon class time, so they need to arrive early.
- Very limited interaction with the other kindergarten classes because they aren’t at school at the same time and sharing recesses.
I have a few additional thoughts on the administrative/financial decision making here. First, I am surprised that schools were receiving the same funding from the state for a half-day kindergartener as for a full-day kindergartener. So I completely understand the state decreasing how much they pay for a half-day kindergartener. I understand the financial incentive to make the switch to full-day kindergarten. However, I feel that there should have been the opportunity for input from the community. My other thought is that this decision is coming a little late for the 2012-2013 school year. Kindergarten RoundUps have already started at many Ann Arbor elementary schools and parents have not had the opportunity to prepare their child for full-day kindergarten with their choices for the pre-kindergarten year.
What are your thoughts on half-day vs full-day kindergarten?