Monday, June 28, 2010

Half Day, No Way

One year ago when I was hunting for a half day kindergarten program there were none to be found. Having the youngest possible kindergartners to be, ones who had never been to preschool, I worried that a full day at school was going to be too much, too soon. Full day was pushing, making kindergarten more than I thought it was intended to be. Every school we considered was full day, and the experts told me I would regret doing anything less.

They were right. Six hours allowed for reading and writing, math and science, but also music and art, multi cultural studies, P.E. and thankfully, library. Once a week they had drama, there were field trips to the theatre, an edible garden and Chinatown, all of which would be eliminated in a half day class. Kindergarten would become an abbreviated period of basic learning without the enrichment available in a full day.

For some children the negative effect of a half day could be minimized, hours away from school still challenging and educational, but for others the reduction in school time could mean an increase in television time, parents who work two or three jobs left scrambling to find adequate child care in the off hours when their six year old was not welcome at school. In a school district where 86% of families are classified as low income, full day kindergarten helps to level the playing field, allowing everyone to step into first grade assuming a similar base of preparedness. Eliminating these valuable hours only widens the gap, when education should be helping it to close.

It appears the school district now agrees. CPS announced today that they will fund full day kindergarten next year, and reduce elementary class size to 33, rather than the proposed 37. Parents have worked hard to make this happen, we certainly appreciate the district listening.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails