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Madeline Anderson has a great head start on kindergarten. After attending pre-kindergarten last year and working with her parents, Jessica and John Anderson, she already knows shapes, colors, the alphabet and letter sounds and can count close to 100.
Attending a full-day of kindergarten at Rockcreek Elementary School will be fun and educational for the enthusiastic learner.
The Andersons’ son, Ethan, 11, attended a half-day kindergarten program, but Jessica is glad her daughter can benefit from what the full-day program has to offer.
“I think it helps when they start out going to full day,” Anderson said. “When they don’t, it’s harder to transition to first grade.”
Even though Madeline will be the third-youngest in her class, Jessica believes she will do well because she’s enjoyed getting ready for school and is excited about other aspects of the school day, such as having lunch with her classmates.
Even if the Andersons had had to pay extra fees to send Madeline to a full-day program, they were ready. They see kindergarten as an important component of a child’s education.
Full-day kindergarten has been an option for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. students for many years, but funding was a mixed bag for parents, depending on their income level.
Families who qualified for free- and reduced-priced lunches could send their kindergarten students to full-day programs for no additional cost. Other parents had to pay $30 extra a week or choose half-day programs to avoid the fee.
Starting this school year, with added funding from the state, all kindergartners can attend full-day programs with no added costs, other than activity or book fees.
Allison Eudy of Columbus, a mother of five children ages 1 through 12, said kindergarten has changed dramatically since she was in kindergarten, and she is amazed at how much today’s children learn before they enter first grade.
“They’re learning in kindergarten what I learned in first or second grade,” Eudy said. “I think full-day kindergarten is a good thing. They learn more, and they’re more ready for first grade.”
Eudy, whose son, Thomas Delacruz, will attend kindergarten at Parkside Elementary School in August, understands that some parents might be hesitant to put their children in child care or prekindergarten. But she sees the benefits of time spent socializing with other children and practicing reading and writing basics to prepare them for full-day kindergarten.
Half-day kindergarten also creates other challenges for parents, Eudy added, including coordinating transportation at midday and finding child care for a half day for working parents.
Rachael Foley and her husband, Stan, will have twin daughters, Destiny and Samantha, going to Richards Elementary School this fall.
Foley believes strongly in the benefits of having kindergartners attend full-day programs and is glad the state is providing more funding to school districts so more parents will have that option for their children.
“I think it’s just such a good opportunity for the smaller kids,” she said. “It introduces them to more things during the school day, and they get that extra exposure to classes like music and art.”
Foley said her twins are not the least bit nervous about spending an entire day away from mom and dad even though they have opposite personalities.
“One is a girly girl, and one is a tomboy,” she said. “They’re loving the idea of going to school, getting on the bus and going back-to-school shopping.”
Paying the $30 a week extra would not have been an issue for Sandy Sutton and her husband, Mark, of Columbus, to send their daughter, Momo, to full-day kindergarten, but Sutton is glad that the availability of more state funding has eliminated the burden it might have caused for some families who might have opted for half-day kindergarten.
“Full-day helps better prepare them for first grade,” Sutton said, adding that the kindergartners who spent half as much time in class as their peers enter first grade academically behind their classmates.
The state funding for full-day kindergarten gives all kindergartners a chance to have more equal opportunities, no matter the family income, she said.
Brittany Boezeman, a kindergarten teacher at Rockcreek Elementary, also has a son in kindergarten this year and a daughter who attended kindergarten last year. As an educator and a parent, she believes full-day kindergarten is good for children.
“They are just so much better prepared for first grade,” she said. “They get so many more opportunities in full-day.”
Boezeman said that, in her daughter’s kindergarten class last year, only two families chose to have their children attend half days. The rest of the class took part in the full-day program.
Although 5-year-olds are learning to adapt to the new school environment, Boezeman said, kindergarten teachers understand this and work with them as they adjust throughout the school year.
“We try to build a schedule that’s not so overwhelming and include lots of hands-on learning,” she said.
And even though academic standards for children have become more demanding, being part of the full-day program gives children more time to learn the skills. The added time builds confidence that they take to first grade, Boezeman said.
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