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So what about the other half day? April 21, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in School Districts.
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Very few community organizations or daycares provide instruction or care for kindergartners that would complement the half-day kindergarten programs. Some provide extended care for mornings and evenings, often with waiting list, but it usually wraps around a full school day.

Parents shouldn’t expect the district to be a babysitter, but realistically, what options are available to working parents? Not all families have extended family who are capable of caring for a rambunctious kindergartner, or who live nearby.

Another issue is that parents may not get to chose whether their child is in morning or afternoon programs, as this often depends on bus routes. Some schools don’t notify parents about placement until summer, which makes it even harder to plan. Some programs, typically afternoon, are shortened on early release days, making it even more complicated to find care.

If you lived in 13 other states in our nation, your state would be required to offer full-day kindergarten. Your neighborhood school — that you’ve paid taxes for — would be required to find space for your child. You would not have to tell a wide-eyed trusting little soul that he or she can’t attend schools with his or her friends.

If you have concerns about this issue, please let your school and state leaders know. If you are in the Lake Washington School District, where some schools have dozens of children on the waiting list, here are details on how to contact the board. There is a board meeting at 7 tonight (4/21) in the District Resource Center, but apparently the board only allows public comments on its first meeting of the month.

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When a “half day” isn’t a half April 19, 2008

Posted by kindergartenwatch in School Districts.
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If you are a parent of a school-aged child, you are probably familiar with “early dismissal” or “late arrival” days. This is typically one day during the week that’s shorter than the others, i.e. Mondays or Wednesdays, in which teachers can plan and work on career development.

In some schools, the kindergarten programs shoftens significantly, such as an hour and ten minutes for afternoon students in the Lake Washington School District on Wednesdays. The shortened program hardly seems like enough time to wipe noses and get the little ones settled in before it’s time to turn around and go home. Either this is a brand-new approach to math, or the program isn’t truly half a day in some cases, since the full-day students attend for 5ish hours on the shorter day in some schools.

If the kids ride the bus, an hour and ten minutes seems like a high ratio of traveling and transition to actual instructional time. What’s interesting is that some school districts don’t shorten the kindergarten schedules as much for the early release days, offering in some cases more than 2 hours.

Another ramification in some districts is that afternoon classes are shorter than morning classes or vice versa on the career development days. For example, the half-day program at the Lake Washington School District is more than 1.5 hours longer for morning students than for afternoon students at the same school. Shouldn’t a pubic school provide equal instructional time to all students? Other districts, however, better distribute the shortened day across both morning and afternoon programs.

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