A List Maker's Life: Talkin' About It

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Talkin' About It

Kindergarten!

Kevin and I are in the midst of a difficult decision regarding where our precious firstborn will go to kindergarten. As a public school teacher, I have always been a huge supporter of public schools. In fact, I think it is really important for the community to have local children attend the local schools. Many of the choices that have became available for parents regarding their children's schooling segregate our neighborhoods and hurt the public school systems. If we all worked together to support our local public school and volunteer to be involved, think of what great places they could be!
Stepping off my soap box for a moment...

WHY is there even a question for me as to where to send Gavin, you ask?
Well, thanks to our lovely state government districts in our area are now faced with a difficult financial decision regarding whether or not to start the soon-to-be mandatory all day Kinder classes for the 2009-2010 year or to lose additional funding this year as they offer a final year of half-day Kindergarten.

Because our local district is facing a financial crisis as it is, they have no option but to accommodate the government and make the transition to all day kindergarten for the coming year. We do have two districts in the area that will still offer the 1/2 day option for next year, either of which leave us with a 15+ minute drive each way to and from school. Although I am willing to make this sacrifice if it is necessary, I am struggling with the idea of having Gavin start in one school district only to be switched back to our district next year.

What's the big deal with all day Kindergarten ?
Stepping back up to my soapbox...
(Thanks to Katie , who is a Kindergarten teacher turned SAHM, who already shared some of her impressions with me)

PROS:
~Students whose mommies and daddies have to work all day have a safe, FREE child care situation.
~Schools receive full funding for each student in the Kindergarten classroom.
~ It helps small districts stay afloat in tough economic times.
~ Many parents, of current preschoolers, surveyed in our area were in favor of the change.
~The goal is to allow more time for enrichment activities and a more relaxed learning environment. (Hopefully that is how it is implemented...)

CONS:
~My child still takes an afternoon rest & I would certainly rather him take his rest at home instead of at school (besides...why are we offering a rest time at school...is it because it is developmentally appropriate for 5 year olds to still have that downtime? hmmm?)
~Curriculum expectations will go up for Kindergarten and more content will be pushed down to kids who are even younger.
~The transition from school 1/2 days 2-3 times a week to full days, every day is HUGE for 5 year olds.
~As a stay home mom I would miss out on the opportunities in the afternoon to provide extra curricular activities, socialization, experimentation, and crafting.
~Some formal research has shown, along with my experience teaching second graders, that students who are pushed at very early ages to meet academic expectations are not further ahead than their peers in the long run. The benefits of extensive early education fade by the time students reach third and fourth grade.
~The additional time spent in school will likely go to lunch, rest, additional recess, getting ready to go out, etc...
~Some educational researchers have actually claimed that the extra time in school is excessive and perhaps harmful to young learners.
~Studies have not been done on the long term effects of all day Kindergarten.

As it stands now the options appear to be:
1. Full Day Kinder in our home district
2. 1/2 Day Kinder in another district
3. Sending Gavin to only 1/2 day of class in our home district -
I'm thinking he would feel pretty uncomfortable being the only child who has to leave centers, specials, and read aloud to "go home to take his nap and play with his momma."
4. Home School - This is not an option for us

(If you are perhaps wondering, "What about your local Christian school?" They also are only offering all day Kinder).

Gavin is not a Young 5 and is certainly ready to "keep up" with his peers. So, the issue is not his readiness as much as it is my readiness & professional opinion.

I want Kindergarten to be a positive experience for our little student.
I want to do what is right, and not just convenient.
Help!! I want your suggestions, opinions, input, links, professional knowledge, and more...

12 comments:

  1. If you choose a 1/2 day option I say go with Hamilton. The schools are great and MUCH closer than WO...Blue Star is literally less than 10 minutes up Graafschap Rd. If you stick with full day, you can inspire my family to stick with our in district option rather than look at the multiple different "choices" available. ;) ~ J

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  2. Plus if we were to go Public schools of choice it would be Hamilton too! :) ~ J

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  3. Okay stepping on my soapbox for you Katie....
    As you know Emmah is attending public schools this year. I have been half impressed, working in a charter school (mind you I come from public school roots, went to one, parents worked at one) I see a big difference in the type of education being offered. While I have been somewhat happy with the choice we made, I don't see them challenging her and offering her some of the life lessons I feel she could benefit from having both at home and at school. I am too not happy about the full day option that will eventually happen, which will effect Jake, but what are we going to do. I hope that schools are able to use the extra time to do more engaging activities and really develop wonderful programs. Okay stepping down.

    (By the way I too have been very challenged by this discussion and choice with both of our kids, if you ever want to talk, call me!)

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  4. As you know, I am totally in agreement with you in opposition to all day kinder.
    Interesting development....I called Ellen at ECC yesterday to be sure I knew all the correct info before conferences. I shared with her my thoughts about eliminating young fives...her and I commiserated together and I told her that the district would be losing some strong families from my school who had young fives.
    Two hours later I get a call back from Ellen...after she spoke with the superintendent they decided to offer a couple of young five sessions at VanRaalte.
    So...there is at least another option for families.
    I didn't realize it is the superintendent who calls the shots...not the school board.
    I will pray for you guys in your decision.
    If I come across any info that will help I'll pass it along.




    And I will keep you posted on any information I receive

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  5. Thanks for the great comments so far guys. Keep them coming!
    Patty - Isn't it amazing what good one phone call can make? That encourages me to continue to make my voice heard concerning my opinion.

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  6. Though I am not aware of all the particulars that people have commented on but I don't think that it would be too horrible for him to change districts after kindergarten. If what you want is 1/2 day I say go to the other district.

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  7. We switched Hannah a few times K-4th. (most had to do w/ Hudsonville being crowded and then re-zoning) while we moved and debated Christian/public school. She was able to adjust to the changes, and that was a big part of our decisions when we switched her.
    Sophie's been able to stay at the same school since K. Not sure, but i don't think she would have done as great moving around and readjusting.

    Just have Kevin grow a full beard, sell the t.v, buy a denim skirt and home school already!

    Todd

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  8. I think we talked about this one before, Katie, and I think it's horrible how this is now becoming a requirement if the schools want to keep full funding. I don't think a 5-year-old is ready for full days at school either. We are lucky in that our school district has chosen to stick with 1/2 day kindergarten classes, and are even more lucky to live in a district that has the program we send Haiden to, but that is a tough decision for you, where that is not available. I wouldn't tell you what to do, but if it were me, I would either take him to the school that offers the 1/2 day option or take him out in the afternoons OR homeschool. Our daily drive is 20 minutes one-way, but it is SO worth it.

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  9. I so understand what you are dealing with. My daughter would be starting K this fall, but we will homeschool.

    My sister is having the same problem you are about where to send her son. For K, he went to a private school for a few months, but then she got pregnant and had horrible hyperemesis and we couldn't get him to school everyday. She took him out and is doing some homeschooling curriculum with him for the remainder of this year.

    Now for fall, he'll be in 1st grade. All day school seems so long and useless for a 6 year old. She is a SAHM and doesn't need the 8 hours of daycare. There are no 1/2 day 1st grade programs available.

    She'd like to continue to homeschool, but with a brand new baby, they are having a hard time.

    What to do, what to do?

    Sorry, I was no help at all! LOL

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  10. All day kindergarten for working mom's and dad's is a lifesaver as daycare costs often break the family budget. Plus, I think it is a great transition to 1st grade with an full day that is far more laid back. I am amazed at what is expected of my 1st and 2nd grade boys and am thankful they had the all day K to prep them for the academic as well as the non-academic expectations.

    However, in your situation I absolutely understand and believe that half day would be worth the drive. Kids are so flexible and I am confident Gavin would transition well from one school to another. You may be surprised to find other parents/kids in his K class who are doing the same. No matter what you choose I would encourage you not to stress out too much because it will all work out and you have laid such a strong foundation for all of your children that they will excel in full day or half day.

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  11. Well you already know my two cents or rather two dollars worth of opinion! But it certainly is good hearing all this input. Keep me updated on this please.

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  12. Hey there, new to your comments but not knew to your page.
    Ultimately as parents we know our children best, but as best we know them sometimes they surprise us.
    My daughter is special needs (autism, developmental delays) when it was time for her to start school the intention was for it to be in an all day environment. Considering she had spent 5 years at home with mommy, I think I felt flush and sick. But I was assured that if she struggled with going all days we would make necessary adjustments. The first week she was tired when she came home, but as far as interacting and learning she did wonderfully. We are now into first grade and I am ever so glad that we didn't interfere with her going all day. She is learning and growing everyday and still just as young and loveable as before. I'm ashamed to admit it, but looking back it probably would have been more of a benefit to me then to her.
    Good luck with whatever you decide.

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