California Educator

April 2015

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This is my third year teaching full-day kindergarten. For the two years I taught half-day kindergarten, I remember a helpless feeling at the end of each day. I worried about the components of my lesson plan that were skipped or overlooked. There just wasn't time. The full-day kindergarten daily routine starts with phonemic awareness, independent work and breaks. It is relaxing and peaceful. Each subject is taught fully, and we are never rushed. The demands of education placed upon a teacher are tremendous across grade levels. Spending adequate time with students to teach concepts is essential. Critical thinking, independent reading and math circles are just a fraction of concepts tackled throughout my day. I wouldn't be able to complete them if I had only half of the time. My students enjoy full-time kindergarten, because I have the time for lessons filled with songs, videos and manipulatives. As health becomes more of a focus in schools, I take many "Brain Breaks" throughout the day, which are designed to give movement opportunities to students, in addition to two recess breaks. I never stress about implementing my lesson plans with the full-day schedule. However, if I could change anything about the full-day model, it would be to implement teacher prep time. That is the only component I miss. During my time as a half-day teacher I used the second part of my day to prep for my work week. That time is not provided to full-day teachers, but it is essential. As a single mother myself, I will be enrolling my own child into full-day kindergarten next year. It's a relief knowing that he will spend his day learning in a classroom with a safe environment during my work hours and that he will be learning at an unrushed pace. Christal Smith, San Bernardino Teachers Association, teaches full-day kindergarten at Emmerton Elementary School. I have been teaching kindergarten for 20 years with experience in half day, full day and extended day. I am against full-day kindergarten. I think we are pushing too much curriculum on these 5-year-olds. I know that there are kindergarten teachers who feel there isn't enough time in the day to teach students everything they need, but I think having full-day kindergarten will push the expectations and benchmarks even higher. We have pushed curriculum down to lower ages and expect more from children, and it has put too much stress on them. They start to dislike school. When I taught full-day kindergarten, I found that students just shut off after a certain time in the day. Research shows that any gains students make in a full-day kindergarten program are lost after first grade. I know many politicians and big business moguls are worried about how we compare to other nations, which is related to pushing curriculum down and upping the testing pressures every year. In Finland, students don't even start school until they are 7, and they are doing great in multination comparisons. So full- day kindergarten isn't the answer. In Palo Alto, we have "extended day kindergarten," which extends the day for half the class at a time to fit in a little bit more curriculum. Students in this program leave 40 minutes before primary students and an hour before intermediate students. This works well for a great majority of students. I hear the argument: "If kids aren't in kindergarten all day, they're just in day care, so they may as well be in school." But I would rather they be somewhere they can play, explore, relax and be kids. They will be in school for at least another 12 years. So let's let 5-year- olds be 5-year-olds. Teri Baldwin, Palo Alto Education Association, teaches extended kindergarten at Addison Elementary School. With increasing pressure to boost test scores, many schools switched from half-day to full-day kindergarten classes. Some believe it is a better way to prepare students for first grade. Others believe it's too much. Two kindergarten teachers share their viewpoints. Yes. No. Point/Counterpoint Perspectives 20 Should students be in all-day kindergarten?

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