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The sky is the limit for children. The benefits of children attending full day kindergarten are far greater than those children that attend half day. Some parents and educators disagree; they say that children should not be forced into their educational career so young. Whether for or against full-day kindergarten, the common goal for all parents is the well being for each individual child. Every child has different needs and capabilities. Parents have to make an informed decision on full day or half day kindergarten. That decision can be a difficult one.
Ultimately that decision is the starting point for the next twelve or more years of education for these young children. Connecticut does not have a law mandating all towns have full day kindergarten. The budget process has to make full day kindergarten a priority. The curriculum for kindergarten is limited during half day sessions for children. Because of the time limitations during half day, these children are getting significant amounts of homework to bring home. Before and aftercare is needed due to the short school day for the half day kindergartners, causing parents to pay for childcare.
The most important point is that children’s cognitive learning is so crucial at age five. They can absorb so much information at a kindergarten level. Taking advantage of that will give them the best opportunities for the educational career and give them a head start. Kindergarten was originated in 1837 (Burkam 3). Children develop their mental, social, and emotional faculties through play, music, movement, interaction with the outdoors, and opportunities to engage in independent and creative pursuits (Burkam 3).
The goal of kindergarten is to prepare children for first grade academics (Burkam 5). Children show great resilience so can therefore adapt to any formal routine, especially education. We must constructively use this critical stage in their lives to have them absorb all the information they can. Most towns in eastern Connecticut have full day kindergarten except Montville. There is no set standard in Connecticut law for all towns to have at least one full-day kindergarten.
East Lyme, Niantic, Norwich, Waterford, Ledyard, and Groton have already established a full day program for kindergarten. Montville being the only town in the surrounding area that does not have a full day option available makes it very difficult to those parents in that town to make arrangements for care of their children. Planning a town budget for full day kindergarten is not as complicated as it may seem. Child care is financed primarily by families, who are estimated to be paying between $40 and $50 billion annually (Mitchell 8).
Only a small percentage of those funds being spent could be used for funding all schools with full day kindergarten programs. Demonstrating better ways to increase and combine local, state, public and private sources to finance all types of programs so that they can meet higher standards and that all families can afford kindergarten and preschool education (Mitchell 12). Some educators say the biggest obstacle is hiring teachers. They would need twice the amount already staffed.
Splitting up the groups of half day classes and teachers could be a solution to that issue. There would not need to be any additional teachers hired in that case. There is so much for children to learn at the age of five. A full day of learning, social interaction, and play is so beneficial. Research comparing half-day and full-day kindergarten shows those children benefit from a developmentally appropriate, full-day program, most notably in terms of early academic achievement—a foundation for school and life success (Villegas 1).
Full-day kindergarten can afford children the academic learning time needed to prepare for mastery of primary-grade reading and math skills (Villegas 1) In particular, the weight of evidence shows that full-day kindergarten benefits children in these ways: contributes to increased school readiness, children that are adapted to full day kindergarten are already prepared for the transition into regular grade level schooling, most importantly, they understand rules and behavior, which leads to a higher academic achievement. Standardized tests and classroom grades find that full day students achieve higher and improve student attendance.
There is better attendance in full-day kindergarten due to the parents understanding that there is so much more information and teaching provided during a longer day and does not want their child to miss, supporting a childs literacy and language development has long lasting effects that are greater in children that attend full day kindergarten (Villegas 2). One study showed higher reading achievement persisting through third grade and in some cases even seventh grade (Villegas 1). Enrolling a child in full-day kindergarten benefits them socially and emotionally. Full day gives children a balance of structured play and self play.
Being with classmates for more hours in a classroom forces them to build positive relationships. Those relationships last sometimes all the way through twelfth grade. Decreases costs by reducing retention and remediation rates (Villegas 1, 2). One study, which found full day students to be more than twice as likely to remain on grade through third grade, showed that this academic benefit helped to offset 19 percent of the first year’s cost of extending the kindergarten day (Villegas 2). For those children in half-day kindergarten, they need to have before and after care in some families, especially when both parents work full time.
If there were full day kindergarten, it would eliminate some of that cost of after care. Due to these children needing to go to multiple places throughout the day for care and schooling becomes the issue of transportation. During a parents work day, that child could be bused to as much as three different locations just for child care. Parents prefer longer kindergarten programs because children have to make fewer transitions within a day and they believe their children will be better prepared for first grade (Mitchell 5).
Day care programs are valuable, but do not have the curriculum and equal age structure that kindergarten does. Proponents of full-day kindergarten believe that children, as a result of their various childcare and preschool experiences, are ready for more demanding and cognitively oriented educational programs (Burkam 6). Having group play with children ages 0-5 is not beneficial educationally. Children at age five are at an important learning stage in their lives. The more education they can receive in kindergarten the better prepared for school they will be.
Full-day advocates suggest several advantages for the longer kindergarten day: it allows teachers more opportunity to assess children’s educational needs and individualize instruction, it makes small-group learning experiences more feasible, it engages children in a broader range of learning experiences, it provides opportunities for in-depth exploration of curriculum, it provides opportunities for closer teacher-parent relationships, it benefits working parents who may need a longer school day (Burkam 6).
Reading, math, science are subjects that are the beginning fundamentals in learning Researchers found that children who attended full-day kindergarten scored higher on reading comprehension and mathematics concepts and applications (Burkam 9). Having more hours in a school day allows teachers to take a more one on one approach for the children to really delve deep into counting, the alphabet, writing, speaking, and so forth. The foundation of learning stems from kindergarten.
Cognitive development is the most important issue with having children in a full-day kindergarten program. Kindergarten is more than play and social interaction with peers, this time must be used to take full advantage of a child’s potential in learning. Education should be the first priority and focus in a child’s life. The bigger picture is laying the groundwork for children’s educational experience. The younger the child the more prepared they will be for the future and the most successful in life.
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