Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Full-Day Kindergarten: Is This A Good Idea For Kids?

More young children are now enrolled in "full-day" kindergarten programs than ever before: (emphasis added)

In her first year as a full-time student, Hannah Barrionuevo wrote a book about a dog searching for its mother and crafted a second one about a talented rabbit.

"It's done," she said, thumbing through her latest work. "I just have to publish it."

She's 6.

In Hillsborough County, Florida, kindergartners have long tackled weighty assignments during full-day classes, the kind of schedule that is being embraced by schools across the country.

Almost two in three kindergartners nationwide, or 65 percent of them, are in school five to six hours a day. That percentage of full-day students has doubled since the early 1980s.

Even a decade ago, most kindergartners went for a morning or an afternoon, not both.

The academic demands of kindergarten have jumped, too, for this generation of students. As the entry point to public schools in the United States, kindergarten is increasingly seen not as a soft step into first grade, but rather as a time of substance and standards.

In Hannah's district, where kindergarten begins at age 5, the lessons cover reading, writing, math, science, history, geography, civics and economics. Hillsborough County moved to full-day kindergarten in 1980, years ahead of the norm, to help children read and write.

There is much more in the whole piece.

With the new emphasis on performance-based learning it is fashionable to start kids off with a full-time program in order to help get them used to a full day of school activities.

I just don't know if it's a good idea to have kids this young be on the job full-time

Our own California school district, located in a small-town backwater of the "Imperial" Valley, doesn't offer full-day kindergarten, not out of a sense of what may be right for kids, but because of the added expense of hiring teachers. Our kindergarten teachers are responsible for two groups of kids, each numbering 32-35 students.

Several other nearby small-town districts offer parents a choice between traditional half-day and full-day programs.
See the latest edition of The Carnival of Education, guest hosted by What It's Like on the Inside, right here.

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