Full Day “K”: The Foundation for Your Child’s Education.
There are several responsibilities an individual takes on when being a parent. The most important one is making sure your child has everything that he or she may need. The basics such as food, a home, and clothing are obvious. Where does education fit in? It is difficult to control the type of education our children are receiving and whether or not it is enough to prepare them for their future. Full day Kindergarten, if implemented, is one way you can insure your children will get a head start in social skills, appropriate developmental skills, and most importantly, academic benefits.
Developing social skills depends on several factors such as home environment and the amount of interaction that is practiced. Working parents are limited to the amount of social interaction they can provide their children with. However, full-day Kindergarten provides that interaction on several different levels. Amanda Miller is a part of the Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative (ECPC) at Illinois University. In her article, “Full Day Kindergarten” she states that full-day Kindergartens, “involve children in first-hand experience and informal interaction with objects, other children, and adults…and develop children’s social skills, including conflict resolution strategies” (Rothenburg.) A few hours a day is not enough time for children to take part in all of these opportunities. When calculating in nap and lunchtime, teachers are left with one to two hours of cramming what educational aspects they had planned for the day.
Full day Kindergarten would improve developmental skills as well. Kindergarten is the level of education in a child’s life in which they begin to learn basic reading and writing. Malia Villegas is a writer for WestEd Center on Policy. In her article, “Kindergarten: Expanding Learning Opportunities,” she discusses the advantage students receive in reading and literacy from full-day Kindergarten. Malia explains, “Recent studies underscore previous findings that full-day Kindergarten students show faster gains on literacy and language measures when compared to half-day Kindergarten students, a finding of particular importance for the growing numbers of English language learners” (Villegas 03). As discussed earlier, full day Kindergarten classes allow longer periods to be dedicated towards fundamental development skills. If our children are not learning the basic reading skills during the appropriate time, we are sending them into their next academic levels ill prepared.
When considering the idea of education the prominent aspect is preparation. Before enrolling our children into Kindergarten, we base our decision on whether or not they are mentally developed to meet the academic standards. The purpose of Kindergarten, like all grade levels, is to prepare students for the next year. Half-day Kindergarten classes are not meeting the quota. Patricia Clark of Education Resources Information Center, which is the US Department of Education, wrote an article titled, “Recent Research on All-Day Kindergarten.” In this article, she examines the academic benefits of the subject at hand. Clark writes about a 1990’s research that was performed on full day and half day Kindergarten students which displayed, “Children who attended all-day Kindergarten scored higher on standardized tests, had fewer grade retention’s, and had fewer Chapter 1 placements”(Clark01).
The National Center for Education Statistics provides a chart by the Whitehouse Social Statistics Briefing Room that indicates the percentage of time spent on crucial subjects in a full-day Kindergarten class verses a half-day Kindergarten class:
As indicated above, you can see that apart from reading and language arts, half day Kindergarten classes lack anywhere between 12-17% of time focused on vital academic subjects compared to full day Kindergarten classes.
On the other hand, there are negative aspects of full day Kindergarten that need to be addressed. One of the most common among these concerns is cost. As Villegas discusses in her article, “Full Day Kindergarten: Expanding Learning Opportunities,” objectors are concerned that the cost of extending the classes to full day will outweigh the benefits. However, full day Kindergarten could save money in the end. If it were to be implemented, we would spend less money on tutoring, labor, and fuel cost (Villegas03). On the other hand, since when you do put a price on our children’s education? Educated individuals are the ones that go to college, get careers, and one day be the ones running our economy.
The other concern objectors have is the pressure it would place on children. However, I believe that if children were to go a full day it would prepare them for their next coming years. First grade is just one year after Kindergarten and beginning a full day schedule then would be just as strenuous as in Kindergarten. The only difference between the two grades is that Kindergarten has less academic demands. It would be better to expose them to half of the battle, staying all day, rather than both time and academic responsibilities in one year. There could also be a compromise. Make access to full day Kindergarten universal with the ability to volunteer participation is how Villegas addresses this concern. She discusses how New Mexico and Arizona have already implemented this idea. They leave it up to districts to decide whether they want to implement full day Kindergarten. Districts work to ensure that their Kindergarten programs are developmentally appropriate and provide opportunities for children to learn in various settings. Parents who prefer half-day enrollment retain that option (Villegas03).
I know from personal experience that half day Kindergarten is not enough preparation. My four-year-old cousin started Kindergarten this year. Every day when she comes home from school, in response to the question, “what did you learn today,” the only thing she replies is details about recess. This is because her teachers do not have enough time to ingrain lessons about necessary academics. Full day Kindergarten is the only way to insure our children are getting the proper social, developmental, and academic benefits that are essential for their life’s future and education.