Timing Isn't Everything: All-Day Kindergarten Means Curriculum, Staff Changes
School districts opting to offer only all-day kindergarten programs next year have scheduling, staff and curriculum issues to resolve before September.
As Macomb Township’s public schools move to all-day kindergarten, scheduling won’t be the only issue districts face as they prepare their programs for 2012-13.
With the state-mandated adoption of Common Core Standards, districts in Macomb and throughout the state will be required to develop or enhance their K-12 curriculum in mathematics, reading and writing by 2014-15. Translation: curriculum changes will be widespread at all grade levels next year.
“We are transitioning to the Common Core State Standards in language arts and math,” said Sue Grenier, Chippewa Valley Schools’ executive director of elementary education. “By next year, we will be fully implementing them. The standards are more rigorous–not necessarily more topics but going into more depth and ensuring mastery.”
This “enhanced” curriculum will be implemented K-12, but kindergarten programs are expected to receive special attention and lay the foundation for this common core curriculum.
“Full-day kindergarten will provide teachers with the time to go into depth,” Grenier said. “We have an excellent writing program; however, teachers have struggled to fully incorporate it with the time constraints of a half day. Social studies and science will be given more emphasis as well. With a full day, they will no longer have to ‘watch the clock’ in an attempt to cover curriculum.”
But this new approach to curriculum is not expected to mean all work and no play for students.
“It’s not that the curriculum is larger, it’s just the opportunity to explore it more, and do so in more creative and developmentally appropriate ways,” said Lisa McFee, L’Anse Creuse Public Schools director for curriculum and instruction. “(Kindergarten students) will also get more access to our specials programs–extra physical education and Spanish class–because the class periods are longer with the full-day.”
In Chippewa Valley, kindergarten students will receive a full hour of specials classes and Grenier said she anticipates developmental “play” or rest periods will be scattered throughout the class day.
“We will be working with teachers to analyze the curriculum and schedule in order to provide an optimum and developmentally appropriate experience for our kindergarten students,” Grenier said.
However, despite this assurance, not all parents are fans of the all-day program.
“This is not good for the well being of these children!” posted Patch reader Saleta. “These children are 4 and 5 year olds and still taking naps. There is a time for school and at this age they should remain the babies they are!"
While Saleta said this shift to all-day in the public schools may lead her to enroll her youngest in a private school’s half-day program next year, it was this lack of all-day programs up to now that pushed fellow Patch reader Jennifer Green to turn to LCPS.
“My son attends L'Anse Creuse and we would have sent him to CV, but they did not offer all day,” Green wrote on Patch. “My son has gained so much in these past 5 months. Give these kids an advantage early to help them start off.”
While there are 45 classes of half-day kindergarten in Chippewa Valley this year, using current enrollment trends to project for next year, Grenier said she expects some 41 all-day classes to be offered come September. This could necessitate additional hiring.
Meanwhile, in L’Anse Creuse and New Haven Community Schools, changes to the kindergarten program will be confined to curriculum and staff.
“This past year, only one half-day kindergarten program has been offered. That has been the demand,” McFee said. “At this point, we do not anticipate there will be a need for half-day kindergarten (at all next year).”
The same holds true for New Haven.
“We already had an all-day kindergarten program,” said New Haven Superintendent Keith Wunderlich. “We don't offer half-day at all. Our change next year will be full-time kindergarten teachers in each class. This year we had half-time teachers with paraprofessionals running the class the rest of the day.”
In 2012-13, all New Haven kindergarten classes will have kindergarten teachers all day, every day, Wunderlich added.
Utica Community Schools will also offer only all-day kindergarten next year. However, private schools in the area, including Immanuel Lutheran and St. Peter Lutheran will continue to offer half-day programs.
Kindergarten Open Houses
Chippewa Valley Schools
- March 14-15, at all Chippewa Valley elementary schools.
- Parents should contact the school they are interested in for the specific date and time of their kindergarten open house.
L’Anse Creuse Public Schools
- Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m., John R. Armstrong Performing Arts Center, 24600 F. V. Pankow Blvd: Atwood, Chesterfield, Graham, Lobbestael and Yacks elementary schools
- Feb. 2, 6:30 p.m., John R. Armstrong Performing Arts Center: Carkenord, Green, Higgins, South River and Tenniswood elementary schools
Utica Community Schools
- Feb. 15, 7 p.m., all elementary schools
New Haven Community Schools
- March 20, Endeavour Elementary Wing
- March 22, New Haven Elementary
- Feb. 29, 6-7 p.m.
- Jan. 29, 11:30 and 12:30 special kindergarten sessions
- Jan. 26, 7 p.m.