The Kindergarten Full-Day / Half-Day Discussion

April 5, 2012 at 8:17 am 71 comments


A reader sent me this Trib article about full vs half day kindergarten.  I thought it could be a good non-confrontational topic to discuss.  So far there have been 2 threatened fist fights on the blog in the past month so this seems to be a safe discussion area.  Some question I have: 

*IF* we go to a 7.5 hour day, what will that mean for Kindergarten in CPS? 
Is that too long for 5 year olds?
Should CPS have a one-size fits all plan for half/full day Kindergarten?
Do kids in high performing neighborhoods need 7.5 hours of education when our budget is in such bad shape?
Is it fair to make/ask parents to pay for full day (as has been done in several schools already?)

I met a woman from Lake Forest once who told me that they have half day offered for free, but you can get full day for something like $7,000 year.  There didn’t seem to be much dispute about that.  It was just “pay if you want more.”  Should CPS offer something like that?

As a Kindergarten plug, Chappell which is near my new home (2153 W Foster) is having a tour at 9:30 am this Tuesday April 10th.  I’ve heard great things about this under-the-radar school.  Not sure if they are still taking out of area kids, but if you are stuck with nothing acceptable, it might be worth a look.

Another question someone asked me – if you are applying to Kindergarten lotteries from out of the city, what Tier do you get placed in?  Anyone know?

As for me, my stuff is in my new home where it will probably remain unpacked for a long time until I get a giant burst of energy.

Schools weigh merits, costs of all-day kindergarten

Parents, educators are asking: Is 2.5 hours enough to adequately prepare students for first grade?

By Bonnie Miller Rubin, Chicago Tribune reporterApril 4, 2012

Lisa Olson was relaxing poolside on a family vacation when her cellphone started vibrating incessantly, disrupting the calm.

The frantic calls came from friends and neighbors in Mokena, irate about a February school board decision to roll back all-day kindergarten to a half-day as a way of cutting costs.

“Why would you want to go backward?” asked Olson, a mother of three, including 4-year-old Gavin. “Did anyone really think about how losing that extra time would affect our children?”

Mokena’s Summit Hill School District 161 quickly backed off the decision, but it is hardly the only community to debate the merits of a full day for kindergartners. Districts in Naperville and Wilmette recently grappled with adding hours to their programs, part of a growing movement to strengthen the early years as the foundation for lifelong learning.

Parents and school officials are asking: Is 2.5 hours enough to adequately prepare students for first grade? Or are we pushing kids too hard? And even if the gains are indisputable, does an expanded program make sense when even affluent districts are struggling to contain costs?

Most states require districts to offer at least a half-day program, the nation’s model since the 1930s. Only 12 states mandate providing a full-day program, according to the Education Commission of the States. In Illinois, about 1,650 schools provide full-day programs, 332 offer half days and 338 offer both, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Research shows students benefit from the extra hours and that it helps level the playing field for kids from low-income households. In a 2005 Rutgers University study, children enrolled in full-day kindergarten demonstrated “significantly stronger” academic gains than their peers in half-day programs.

Beyond curriculum, the case for the all-day program is made by families who say that getting out of school at 11:30 a.m. is out of sync with their lives. The majority of parents are unavailable to leave their jobs midday to pick up their youngsters, leaving them to either quit work or cobble together expensive and unwieldy child-care arrangements.

Finally, say advocates, the majority of 5-year-olds have already attended preschool, so scaling back time interrupts the continuity for kids accustomed to six-hour days.

“You have to think of building on a continuum,” said Christine Maxwell of the Erikson Institute, a child-development graduate school. “Making a full day the new standard gives children opportunities for more individualized attention … especially when it comes to early language and prereading skills.”

But the cost of hiring more teachers and aides and paying for training and space just doesn’t fit the current fiscal climate, say administrators. Over the past three years, the state’s education budget has been slashed by $650 million.

“It is difficult for educators to argue against increased learning time, but the value of full-day kindergarten must be balanced against other competing school needs,” said Superintendent Steve Griesbach, of Gower School District, which serves Burr Ridge and Willowbrook and does not have a full-day program. “At a time when most schools find there aren’t enough resources to do everything, we must make thoughtful choices about what is best for kids.”

In Mokena — which offers full-day and half-day programs — kindergarten seemed like a logical place to cut costs. The plan proved so contentious that the board voted to close an elementary school instead.

Superintendent Barbara Rains said she “couldn’t discount” that the issue won’t be revisited.

To Olson, any tinkering would be regressive: “This should have been a last resort … not the first,” she said. “Having a full-day kindergarten is one of the selling points for our community … and makes us competitive.”

In two other high-performing communities, Wilmette School District 39 and Naperville School District 203, kindergarten is offered only half-day, and the issue has moved to the forefront.

Wilmette considered adding an extended-day, fee-based enrichment program. “It seemed like a creative solution because it wouldn’t deplete our resources,” said district spokeswoman Holly Goldin. But no one could confirm residents’ demand — especially because the park district offers a similar program — so any expansion was put on a back burner until 2013.

In contrast, officials in Naperville are strongly committed to adding a full-day program. The proposal has met with some resistance, though, because it is intertwined with changing school boundaries to create more space.

Dee Dauber isn’t directly affected, but that hasn’t stopped her from wanting a full-day program. The Naperville resident’s opinions are based on the experiences of her two daughters. The oldest — now in high school — attended a half-day program, while her youngest, a fourth-grader, had a full day.

“I could see the difference in what teachers could accomplish with those extra hours,” Dauber said. “It benefited the kids not only academically, but socially … so when they got to first grade, they were truly ready. It should be an option, if the budget allows.”

The price tag is what Kevin Sawatzky, a father of three in District 203, is worried about, along with the potential disruption, he said.

“Some people don’t like the idea of paying for other people’s child care,” said Sawatzky, whose wife is a stay-at-home mom. “For me, though, the concern is that we’re spending a bunch of money and we’re moving a bunch of kids. I’d like to hear some alternatives.”

But to Maxwell, from the Erickson Institute, the evidence is clear, regardless of the community. To sustain the positive benefits of attending preschool, full-day kindergarten should be offered to all children.

“It means more opportunities to read, ask questions, do more problem-solving … and encourages the kind of open-ended inquiry that often gets shut out in a shortened day,” she said. “Really, it’s about the gift of time.”

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2012 Academic Centers – Post News Here! CPS to open more Selective Enrollment High Schools, says Brizard

71 Comments Add your own

  • 1. candycane  |  April 5, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Well when our children can’t compete in a global market, studies will link it to 3 hour Kindergarten. And if CPS does this, next year it will go after the first graders. But they are probably right, first graders don’t need to read anyway–just give them audio books.

  • 2. anonymous  |  April 5, 2012 at 8:28 am

    The Finnish system, which we’ve all heard so much about, offers optional daycare programs for babies and toddlers and a one-year kindergarten for six-year olds.

    But compulsory elementary school begins at age seven, and goes until 16.

    The Erickson Institute must know that excellent school systems can start children at age 7.

  • 3. Donna  |  April 5, 2012 at 8:28 am

    To answer your question, cpsobessed… When you are entering into CPS from an out of city location, CPS takes the census data from your current neighborhood and applies its “Tier” criteria to place you in a similar city of Chicago tier. Hope this helps.

  • 4. Sarah E  |  April 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

    We are currently #19 on Chappell’s wait list for K. Last year their school’s sign had “we have spots in K” up well into Novemberish. (It seemed like a long, long time.) It was odd because it seems to be the opposite of the scarcity mentality I feel dominates our CPS school horizon right now.

    Chappell is a school that had a building addition about 15 years ago, they (like McPherson) have the space to grow and stretch out that other schools like Bell and Coonley and Courtenay (that I think are in the same Alder-perons’ area) simply don’t have. However, a building does not make the school. I toured last fall and was encouraged by the principal.

  • 5. jlbcbs  |  April 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Our 5 year old has been in some sort of full day pre-school or preK since 12 weeks old. Almost always 8-9 hours a day. Maybe because we started him at such an early age, but he has been just fine with it. It was harder on us I feel. He still wants to say longer when we pick him up. I always wondered how a child can really learn much with just 2 1/2 to 3 hours a day in a preK. Half of that time is spent getting situated/eating/playing outside.

    Re: Chappell. Please stop telling everyone it is a great school, otherwise we will not be able to get in!!! Kidding. Our waitlist is 14. Impressive school. Would be very happy to get a call from there.

  • 6. PatientCPSMom  |  April 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

    CPS preschoolers are already in full day programs, my son included. Many in our preschool class are already reading and doing basic adding and subtracting. I worry how Kindergarten will be challenging enough for these kids not that the class time will be too long.

    School Salazar, class time 8:45-2:45 M-Th, F 8:45-11:45

  • 7. West Rogers Park Mom  |  April 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    My biggest complaint is that this leaves families that NEED care for the children with little to no options. So I have a 4 year old and can apply to the ‘top magnet/gifted schools’ for 1/2 day K. But hubby and I both work and have to have our kid in full day care. We can’t afford a nanny and have no family support. So we pay for another year of full day ‘K’ at the daycare and try for first grade entry.

    But guess what? ? There are no spots for first grade because they are being filled by the kids who were able to go to 1/2 day K.

    Its kind of like CPS PreSchool for All- its not really for all but for those who can afford to have a parent stay home.

  • 8. wy mom  |  April 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I don’t believe in preschool. My kids went to playschool @ the park for an 1 1/2 hrs 2 days aweek at age 4. At five they did the 1/2 gr K. The most important times is that bonding and being w/your kids that give them security at a young age. I know many will disagree w/me. But I knew my oldest was gifted and he tested so. My youngest is in the 98th percentile. We put so much emphasis on pre school~but those are years when parents have a choice…you NEVER get those years back. As for 1/2 day, there is no sense for kids to go a whole day…they are too young, and just learning.

  • 9. LSMom  |  April 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    As far as I know @7, all the top magnets and gifted schools have full day K, so I don’t think you’d have a problem in CPS. There’s only a handful of half-day programs in the city, and I’m pretty sure they’re all neighborhood schools.

  • 10. Public or Private  |  April 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    @1, re: global competitiveness, the US already falls just above Liechtenstein (according to the OECD’s PISA test of the world’s best education systems).

    Finland ranks third, just after Shanghai and South Korea. Canada is sixth. And guess what they’ve rolled out in two of the most populous/prosperous provinces in that country? Play-based kindergarten.

    “There is a long history of understanding that children learn through play, but one of the things that has tended to happen, it comes particularly from the United States … is this push to do things sooner, harder, to shove academics down to younger and younger children,” said Marilyn Chapman, an early learning expert at the University of British Columbia and lead writer of B.C.’s new kindergarten program.”

  • 11. anonymouseteacher  |  April 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    When budgets come out on April 12th, schools should know whether or not the board is going to fund half or full day, for some or all schools. I teach kindergarten and am watching this issue with interest. I’d actually prefer half day K for both selfish reasons (I am hoping to just teach half time because the longer day is going to push me, time wise, beyond what I am able to do) and pedagogical ones, but I do understand that childcare is a problem for some families.

  • 12. JPmom  |  April 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    FWIW, my child has thrived in a CPS half-day K. I admit, I’ve been concerned with what she’s been missing as compared to her peers in full-day K, but she absolutely loves school and tested into our local RGC. I figure she’s missing about 1 hr of instruction per day (when you subtract time for lunch and recess from a 5hr 45 min day), but she’s been able to take classes in the afternoon, and we’ve been able to spend plenty of time at the playground. I’m confident that she’ll be able to handle a longer day next year.

  • 13. justanotherchicagoparent  |  April 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Mayor of Chicago: Provide a quality, funded longer school day

    I prefer to have choice. I think all children are individuals and have unique personalities, needs & learning styles.Just as if you would not put every child in the same kindergarten class, in the same size shoes,pants and tshirt, learning should never be one size fits all. When my kids first started CPS there were three choices, 2.5 hr,extended day,over 4 hrs and full day…

  • 14. kikiandkyle  |  April 5, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    We paid $2,500 for full day kindergarten here in Lake Bluff, Lake Forest charges $4,800 but both districts reduce fees for low income families (there are a few, my neighbor got a 50% reduction upon showing her AllKidz card). Ultimately it was way cheaper than another year of daycare, and my already reading and writing 5 year old was busting to go to school.

    I don’t know what it’s like to have a kid who isn’t ready for full day K when the time comes so I guess I’m not qualified to say whether all kids should go full day or not. My opinion is that they should, but that’s just my opinion. I also don’t support red shirting, but again I haven’t been in that position so my opinion is unqualified.

    In both of the European countries we lived in kids started school at 4. One of those countries is way above the US in the OECD rankings and one is way below. One size does not fit all, and people need to remember that when making blanket statements.

  • 15. northcentermom  |  April 5, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I’m a parent who searched all over CPS for a half-day kindergarten program only to move into the Bell district the year before it went full-day. Full-day was too much for my kindergartner. She was fine academically and did well throughout the school day, but was often a wreck when she got home. (She’s a late-August birthday. Don’t get me started on the CPS zero discretion policy for kids with summer birthdays.)

    Having spent several days in her classroom from bell to bell, I think that making kindergarten an academic year where every child is expected to learn to read without treating it like an academic year with reading groups and differentiated learning is an exercise in frustration for teachers and students, particularly in classes with 30+ students. I strongly believe that if reading is your aim — and I don’t think it should be — you’d do much better with the same resources by going to half-day and allowing the teacher to focus on 15-17 students at a time.

    Child care should not enter into this equation. The mission of the schools is education. After-school programs fill an important need and should be widely available and supported. But forcing all kids to spend more hours in school for the convenience of some parents is an abuse of the system.

  • 16. Jill  |  April 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

    As it relates to CPS, the thing we should really talk about is equity. Why do some schools get half day kindergarten, and some schools get full day kindergarten? Historically there has not been a rhyme or reason why more affluent schools in the district have full day and others in underserved neighborhoods get half day. I think CPS is dipping their toe into trying to rectify this with making it the same across the district (not saying that’s a good or bad idea, just an observation).

    What needs to also be discussed in this context is the importance of early learning programs, and where they do (or don’t) get delivered in the district. In many Latino neighborhoods, these programs have had long waitlists for years.

  • 17. Angie  |  April 6, 2012 at 8:24 am

    @13. justanotherchicagoparent: “Mayor of Chicago: Provide a quality, funded longer school day”

    Yet another protest against the longer school day, and the demand for money that isn’t there.

  • 18. momof3boys  |  April 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

    my older boys went to an all-day preschool w/ a kindergarten. my oldest was reading, spelling, and was able to do math by the time he was done with kinder. my second one, we pulled him from the pre-school and put him into bell’s half-day kinder. i still feel like i kick myself in the butt for doing that to him because i feel like i ripped him off. so with the third, i enrolled him in a full-day kinder (he didnt go to an all-day preschool, just the pre-k at the park and then at a school). i can definitively see the difference between full-day kinder and half-day kinder. i just dont feel like the kids learn anything in 2.5 hours, especially since it take 1/2 hour to get everyone settled and then 1/2 to get everyone ready for dismissal, 15 min for misc, which leave about and hour for actual learning? luckily, it all worked out and the two are at a great hs and the younger one is at a great elementary school..

  • 19. Future CPS Kinder Mom  |  April 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

    My child has a late summer birthday and begins kindergarten this coming fall. I am so nervous about how it will be for him. Our only options are full day kindergarten programs as we cannot afford any private/parochial school and our neighborhood school is full day as well as our offered schools from the lottery. The lottery offers are very good offers, they just happen to only have full day kinder programs. (I am so very grateful for the offers we do have though.) In the ideal world, I would have preferred a half day program if it were available at a quality school. Right now my child is in preschool which is 2.5 hours a day and that seems just right. Some days at the end of the 2.5 hours I can tell it has been enough and he needs to go home. I can’t even imagine how hard 7.5 hours is going to be. Also, when he gets tired, frustrated, bored or overwhelmed (like so many preschoolers) is when he starts to act out so I am nervous about the possibility of running into discipline issues at school, largely as a result of a too long (for him) school day and the fact that he may get overwhelmed with being around so many children for such a long span of time.

    On the flip side, and I am hoping these people are right, some have suggested to me that taking my son’s personality into account (active, intelligent, needs plenty of stimulation, tends to get into trouble when left to his own devices for too long!), he may really benefit and thrive in a structured day and setting like at school. I am hoping that there will also be enough to interest and challenge him throughout the day. He scored very well on the RGC tests, just not well enough to get into an RGC from tier 4 (most likely will not receive a wait list call either from what I’ve seen of the tier 4 scores that received offers.) He also scored well on the classical test, but not in the realm of where offers are made so magnet or neighborhood school it will be for us.

  • 20. hammy33  |  April 6, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Thanks Angie for noticing.:) We have to at least try to make them put in an effort to fund this.I don’t think it is going to be as glorious as some expect.Brizard has already said he can not afford PE teachers for 11th and 12th grades.Not my teen, but a lot of other teens wanted the daily PE as allocated by Illinois with the longer day. Brizard waived it for two more years.Brizard cut teachers, arts,PE & music while he was in Rochester they are replacing those this year.Oh this is not my petition I just agree I don’t want my kids in study hall with the extra time.
    Jill some of the more affluent schools have had parents fund full day kindergarten.

  • 21. hammy33  |  April 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Angie the above post is justanotherchicagoparent ..sorry about that.

  • 22. Mom  |  April 6, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Seems to me that if the day goes to 7.5 hours, half a day (3.75 hours) should be plenty for what is developmentally appropriate for kindergartners (and I agree with pp that one segment of the population’s day care needs should not factor in when setting an across-the-board policy, just what is developmentally appropriate, i.e. “best practices”). I think a lot of the talk about how one’s child is “ready” for more since they can already read, add, etc., just stems from a lack of understanding about what is the appropriate purpose for kindergarten (it should not be about 7.5 hours of reading and math worksheets) and how important it is to develop children along other planes besides reading and math. Finally, I note the contrast/tension between the people who want more, more, more time for their kindergartners vs. the people who complain the proposed full day is too much time for their already tired, overburdened elementary school kids who just need a break to recharge. Hmm? Be careful what you wish for?

  • 23. anonymouseteacher  |  April 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Oh no, if we go to half day kindergarten it will not be half of 7.5 hours. It will be 2 hours and 50 minutes. Schools will put teachers’ lunch (45 min) in between the two classes and the prep time as well (60 min) so they don’t have to provide art or music or anything like that for kindergarteners. It costs money to do that! Just fyi.

  • 24. anonymouseteacher  |  April 6, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Fwiw, I think Kindergarten should be 80% playbased, 4 hours long, with tuition based after care provided on site, and kindergarten teachers possibly providing RTI interventions for 1st and 2nd graders in the late afternoons (so if they want to be full time they can be).

  • 25. Angie  |  April 6, 2012 at 10:34 am

    @20. hammy33: So posting under two different names was an accident? Alrighty, then.

    “We have to at least try to make them put in an effort to fund this.”

    And where do you think he can get the money?

    I wonder if teachers and CTU types are familiar with the concept of a household budget. What do you do in real life when there’s not enough money to satisfy all your “wants”? Do you borrow from credit cards and home equity loans, go out on the street and demand more cash from pedestrians, or do you maybe, possibly, figure out how to live with what you have?

  • 26. justanotherchicagoparent  |  April 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Actually it was an accident my child stepped in while I went to get a cup of coffee.I guess it stayed on my computers memory and I tend to press post before I look. But you may believe what you want.
    When I have a tight budget I usually don’t overspend and try to have quality within my means.

  • 27. anonymouseteacher  |  April 6, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I am not sure, #25 why you are directing your comments at teachers and CTU. The budget affects everyone. Teachers, parents, kids, and families.

  • 28. Kelly  |  April 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    @25 Angie – the people who support the petition are fully aware of a household budget. That is exactly the point. CPS is proposing to extend the school day but not explaining how they will fund it. You are right that the city is lacking funds. So why is the mayor and CPS proposing to add hours to the day but not add money for teachers for music, art, PE and staff for lunch and recess supervision?

  • 29. wy mom  |  April 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    At our elementary school (we live in a tier 4) we have the option of 1/2 day morning, 1/2 day afternoon or 2 classes of fulltime grd. k. We have 3 teachers and the teacher who teaches 1/2morning eats and then teaches 1/2 afternoon. It really serves our community well as I stated I don’t believe in full day gr. k. However, I know some ppl don’t have that option and their schools are full day. At one time there was talk about getting rid of the 1/2 day gr k, but there were 2 many opposed to it.

  • 30. WasThere2  |  April 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    my child is in hs now, but went to 1/2 day kindergarten. We had a choice. I thought 1/2 day was plenty since he would be in school full day for the next 12+ years. What’s the point?

  • 31. Angie  |  April 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    @28. Kelly: “So why is the mayor and CPS proposing to add hours to the day but not add money for teachers for music, art, PE and staff for lunch and recess supervision?”

    I would think it’s because Chicago teachers get paid the same amount of money for working less than teachers in other major cities. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered so much if they were getting the good results like often mentioned here Lab school, but they are not. Also, maybe taking away recess from the kids so they can go home earlier, and making dismissal of bad teachers ridiculously difficult has something to do with it, too. Who knows?

  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  April 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    @28: why is the mayor adding extra time and no money?

    Well, there IS no money. We’re already at a hideous budget shortfall so while they may reallocate SOME money, they’re unlikely to find a great sum to provide all the extras that people want in a 7.5 hour day.

    I believe CPS’ take on it is that schools+parents+communities can find a creative solution for how to fill this time without extra money. I spoke to the principals at two pioneer schools who are currently doing the 7.5 hour day and have extended the learning time and outdoor time but have not used extra budgets to do so. These schools both have very strong, creative leaders AND have found a way to make it work (successfully in their opinions.)

    While I don’t personally support the 7,5 day without extra funding, I think it *can* be done in certain schools where there is a great deal of ingenuity and the right resources fall into place.

    What happens in the schools with a “meh” principal who doesn’t have community contacts, aldermanic support, the right pieces that come together? I think that is a key question.

  • 33. anonymouseteacher  |  April 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    And what happens in schools that, unlike Skinner North or Disney 2, that don’t have magnet funding or extra classical funding?

    I attended a meeting last week where the person from special services told all our sped aides that they don’t have jobs next year. They all have to wait and see where they get assigned, if they get assigned at all. Any child who needs a one-to-one aide must have copious amounts of data and paperwork to prove the child in question needs an aide. If the teacher doesn’t do the paper work just right? No aide. Oh, and there are no current examples of what just right looks like. CPS is trying to save money by cutting from our neediest kids.

    Again, I really am anxious about seeing the budget CPS gives principals on April 12. My principal was told that she’d be getting NONE of the extra teachers she asked for to provide appropriate arts enrichment. We’ll see.

  • 34. Angie  |  April 6, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    @33. anonymouseteacher: Are special education aides in CTU or some other union? Can they go on strike?

  • 35. anonymouseteacher  |  April 6, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    They are part of the IFT, so yes, they are in a union and can strike.

  • 36. Chicago Mama  |  April 6, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    A couple thoughts:

    K is not compulsory in IL, so there isn’t really an incentive to make K full-time. I’m surprised to hear that 203 is going toward a full-day K. I was always told that their charter specifies half day K.

    I believe the benefits of early childhood education are important, and that could be extended to K.

  • 37. averagemom  |  April 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    My kids are long past K now. They went half day, and that’s all they needed. I’m not in favor of the academics I hear being taught in K in my school. My kids are both in gifted programs now, but were not ready to read and write at age 5. One didn’t read till age 7. The research I’ve heard says reading skills even out after a few years. Once mine started reading, they took off. I think being in an environment they couldn’t do well in at an early age would have made them hate school.

  • 38. RL Julia  |  April 8, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Son went to half day kindergarten which ended up being the best thing for him ever – after years in full day childcare/pre-school I had no idea how tired he was. Really allowed him some time to grow emotionally and socially. Daughter went to half day kindergarten and ended up in first grade mid-year – which was a better fit for her socially and academically. Every kid is different.

  • 39. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman  |  April 9, 2012 at 9:32 am

    If there’s no stay at home parent, what happens for the kids who go to half day Kindergarden? They end up going to an after school program, or they get picked up by a nanny and probably stay at home and watch tv when it’s cold.

  • 40. wy mom  |  April 9, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Well I was a stay at home mom, so I wanted my kids to go 1/2day to gr k~it was hard to get into bc so many moms are stay at home where I live and they all wanted 1/2 day.

  • 41. Seeking Audubon info  |  April 10, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Hoping parents can weigh in on Audubon school

    – Does the school have a feeling of friendliness?
    – Are parents allowed in the school during the day to volunteer?
    – Are the reading classes differentiated?
    – Does the Y do a good job with the aftercare program?

  • 42. anonymouseteacher  |  April 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Budgets, that were supposed to come out this week won’t be coming out for a month or more now. Parents need to be prepared that kindergarten could go from full day to half day or half day to full day the day before school starts. And actually, it could happen AFTER school starts, as happened in my school this past year.

  • 43. CJ  |  April 14, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I think if the goal of kindergarten is to transition kids to going to school daily, adapting to a new environment, spending daily time away from home, and so on then 1/2 is sufficient. With the longer school day two 3 hour sessions could work just fine and help us balance our budget.

  • 44. candycane  |  April 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

    what I don’t understand is why parents are getting all involved/concerned for balancing the budget. Whether I want full or part time kindergarten is a decision I”ll make regarding what is best for my child. However, I’m not going to get all involved in Rahm’s job and worry about his books. I’ve got enough to worry about.

  • 45. cpsobsessed  |  April 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    @candycane, you are aware that there’ll be 8 additional years of elem school at 7hours a day AFTER kindergarten, right? 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 46. candycane  |  April 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    of course I understand that….what is your point?

  • 47. cpsobsessed  |  April 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    That yes, your indiv child matters for kinder, but after that, the funding of a 7 hour day may be more relevant, and “keeping out of it” when it comes to CPS hasn’t lead to impressive funding results. We now have the same or less funding with a longer day. That’s why many parents (ie RYH) feels it’s imperative to stay on top of rahm.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 48. CJ  |  April 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Frankly I think making a decision based on budget is better than making one based on what works best for all the families in CPS. We are all different and we all have different needs.

    As for equity, I couldn’t agree more.
    I also think CPS needs to address equity because the inequity seems to breed entitlement, ill-will and exclusivity.

    I agree with you. But I think the point is, it affects people’s pocketbooks. If they don’t get full day kindergarten, they have to find and fund
    child care.

  • 49. Claud  |  April 27, 2012 at 6:22 am

    My kids went to a full day Kindergarten but if I had the choice I would have only put them in half day. When they got home,one of them had over an hour of homework. It was horrible,she was miserable. They are in 1st and 3rd grade now and they don’t like school. We fight every night about homework. I didn’t hate school until middle school.(they are getting good grades and the 3rd grader will be in ag math next year,however ,he’s struggling a bit in the classroom math)
    I went to elementary school in another country. School was from 12-4. I was AWAKE when I got there,I had time to play, I was rested and alert. We moved to the states when I was 11 and I was about two years ahead in math,science and language(grammar).
    That’s why I don’t believe it’s about the amount of TIME you spend in school,but about HOW you are taught and parent involvement.
    I also want to point out that in many of these countries we seem to be so envious of,often children commit suicide over the pressures put on them to perform. Who want a life like that.
    Opportunity in the future is going to depend on politics,and the economy as much(if not more than) education.
    If the economy recovers we won’t need to worry about competing with other countries because the opportunities will be HERE. If it doesn’t,and this is the decline of the empire, no matter how educated our children are they’ll have to search for fortune elsewhere, and migrate, like people have been doing all around the world.

  • 50. Linda Hiser  |  June 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

    If youngsters started Kindergarten at age 6, they would be ready for a full-day of school. They simply are just too young to maintain themselves both mentally and emotionally at age 5. The highest number of detentions for behavior incidents is coming from Kindergarten, and 4th or 5th graders. We think a full-day translates into a full day of academic time, but in essence, students are at 3 recesses, lunch, transitions, and specialists which amounts to 1/2 of their day. Taxpayer money is paying for daycare for 1/2 of the day. Kindergarten is not what the parents and grandparents experienced. It is an excessive amount of time spent sitting on the floor in a circle to receive group instruction on material that was previously taught in 1st grade. Some students are reading early, and their neurological systems can attend for that amount of time. However, if your typically- developing child hates to draw or color, and is not identifying letters and numbers, then just give them the gift of time, and start them in Kindergarten at age 6. They will feel better about themselves, and enjoy school.

  • 51. LSMom  |  June 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Good luck with that at CPS, they are really strict about the cutoff and will throw a 6 year old right into first grade.

  • 52. julie  |  September 7, 2012 at 12:42 am

    I am appalled that throughout this whole page, i didnt read anything about the medocal needs of sleep for a 5 yr old. 9 hours at nigh 2 hour nap. My daughter started kindergarten this year and in this area of ohio, there is no half day offered. Before school started she was still napping. This new schedule is almost impossible for her thus far.

  • 53. julie  |  September 7, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Linda…i wish i would have waited until next year to put her in school 😦

  • 54. julie  |  September 7, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Ok….i posted before i read any comments. What i meant was i didnt see anything in the article about medical needs of sleep for age 5.
    Im at a loss for words on some of these comments about school budget….household budget
    The only iportant issue is whats best for the CHILD! There are lots of ways to save money in other areas.
    I rarely buy new clothing for myself or children. Thrift stores are just obe way

  • 55. julie  |  September 7, 2012 at 1:29 am

    One more thing. i could NOT read until about 3rd grade that was in 1988. I strongly believe the united states pushes too much too young. I had straight A’s all through school….yet my kindergarten was coloring, cuttin, and educational play. I agree that pushing too much at such an early age can be very discouraging to some children. My 13 is living proof. Hated elementary. Who cares that he could read before the end of kindergarten……..he was ovetwhelmed with long days of s work.

  • 56. julie  |  September 7, 2012 at 1:37 am

    🙂 my phone wont let me finish my thoughts. So i have to post partial comments. My main point is full day k is too much for my daughter andalso was for my now 13 yr old. Fear she will soon hate school also. The only reason kindergartners need to read is because of new guidelines that were probably made by someone with no children! Excuse any typis now i cant see what im typing. I also like the comment on the idea of 12-4 so they are awake and alert. We need to go back to basics in a lot of areas so parents can focus on the individual needs of each of theor children by their abilities, personality and so on….i think im done now

  • 57. anonymouse teacher  |  September 7, 2012 at 6:05 am

    I teach K and I agree. Yes, one CAN teach 4-5 year olds to read. But, can and should are two different things. I don’t think we should be teaching reading in K. And I agree the day is way too long for them. I think a 4 hour long kindergarten would be plenty. But, our district isn’t good at implementing policies that really meet kids’ developmental needs.

  • 58. falconergrad  |  October 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Anyone care to comment on how the the longer day is going for their K student? We don’t have one in K this year. A K boy I know is struggling with the long day. 😦

    We have 4 hour K at our school and I am hoping we keep it. It worked great for my daughter. It actually was from 12-4 as we chose the PM class. For the most part she still loves school now in 2nd grade, but she is grumbling a bit this year – I think it is a combo of longer day and her age.

    @24 that K setup sounds awesome to me!

  • 59. anonymouse teacher  |  October 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    From what I have seen in my classroom, the kids are adapting because kids can and will adapt to pretty much anything, but I don’t think the 7 hour day is what is best for them. I still get requests aaaallllll day long about, “when are we going home” and “what time is lunch” and “I miss my mommy”. By about 2 o’clock (we are an 8 a.m. start), they are fried. And this is with 2 recesses, an hour prep and lunch and center time. No, a 7 hour day isn’t horrible for kids, but it isn’t good for them either, imo. Not based on what I am observing.

  • 60. Falconergrad  |  March 2, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    How about a mid year-ish assessment of 7 hour K? I would love to hear observations from parents and teachers.

    I will have a K student in the fall and it was looking like we would still have half day option at our school but I don’t know now with Rahm’s latest fiscal miracle/distraction. It’s ambigously worded, I think, and our principal did not seem to know yet if she could still offer half day K. If not, it’s likely we will have to get rid of all or half of our PreK or the art room.

    When I tell people I prefer half day K (and that is as a parent, children’s librarian, and taxpayer), many of them say things like “your child will get used to it” and “they adapt”. Nobody ever says “your child is going to love school”. That speaks volumes to me.

  • 61. Christine Whitley  |  March 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    My child was in full day Kindergarten when it was still only 5.75 hours and that was long enough.

  • 62. Even One More CPS Mom  |  March 3, 2013 at 12:10 am

    @60 Falconergrad – My child has an August birthday and is in kindergarten this year as a 5 year old who will not turn six until right before (meaning days) first grade. I was very worried about the 7 hour school day as in addition to being on the youngest side of any group he would be with, and a boy, he also had never been in preschool longer than 2.5 hours on any given day and had never been in any type of day care situation of any kind at all. If given the choice between equal schools, one with full day and one with half day K, I would have chosen half day. But, with my child now in full day K I can give you some feedback. Yes, he is often good and tired at the end of the day and falls right asleep at bed time. Yes, sometimes (but not usually) he is crabby by dinner time and has the occasional meltdown. Yes, fitting in any after school activities, homework and dinner before his 7-7:30 bed time can be a crunch. But, he absolutely LOVES school! He tells me all the time how much he loves school and loves kindergarten. This past Monday when he woke up he asked me if it was a school day and when I said yes he yelled, “Yaaaaaaayyyy!” He is always happy and smiling when I pick him up at the end of the day, has lots of art and papers he wants to show me and is learning a TON. Now, all this may depend on the quality of the child’s day as well. He is in a good magnet school and he attends 1-2 specials every day of the week. The kids are moving around the building throughout the day and seem to get a fairly regular change of scenery so they are never just ‘stuck’ in their K classroom. We are lucky and blessed that he has a most amazing teacher who manages to keep the kids engaged and in order without ever yelling. She manages to be firm and get the job done while still being supportive and kind to the children. She is a believer in positive discipline and is respectful to parents as well as the children. We did go through what I understand is a typical type adjustment period during about the first six weeks of school (he would get overwhelmed by the newness of everything and everyone and get scared because so much new that he had never done before was being presented to him) but since then he’s adjusted well and it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Not long ago I had to take him out of school for several hours for a medical appointment and throughout that period he was detailing to me what activities and classes he might be missing and kept asking me when he could get back to school. He did not want to miss a thing. I can now say that I truly believe he is getting so much more out of full day kindergarten than he would ever have gotten out of half day K. There is no way they could fit what he does in a full day into a half day program. Now, would he have benefited just as much from a 6 or 6.5 hour program as he does a 7 hour program? That I cannot answer. I do know that our time between the end of the school day and bed time might be a little more manageable. That would be a bonus. But, I really can’t say what the difference in the quality of his school day might be if it were a half hour to hour shorter.

  • 63. anonymouse teacher  |  March 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Fwiw, as a long time Kindergarten teacher, I am thrilled that the funding for full day K appears to be coming through for all children. At the same time, I think 7 hours is too long and 3.5 hours too short. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a 5 hour day for K kids, with 2 additional hours of optional tuition based aftercare for parents who want/need it (totally play based) and then the K teachers could work as interventionists and enrichment teachers in grades 1 and 2, reducing class sizes for a period or two without having to hire additional people.
    My children are both past kindergarten. The 7 hour day would not have been right for either child even at their solid school. But I know every kid is different. And I also know that half day K is a logistical problem for working parents.
    @60, you may not have to worry too much about all schools going full day with tons of school funding dollars being lost in the political sequester stuff that is kicking in. And as we say in CPS, until late August, nothing is for sure (and even then nothing is for sure) so consider your options, but don’t worry too much. It will all change several times before anything is set.

  • 64. PatientCPSMom  |  March 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    @60 and @62 I too have a K child and yes 7 hours sounds longer to adults than it is to a 6 year old. I can’t imagine my son getting the same level of engagement and fun for this many hours a day at home. Like @62 our schcool is safe and my child has lots of specials (Art, Tech, PE, Music, Spanish etc) at school. He is also reading,writing, and doing math beyond a first grade level. Can’t really ask for more – other than to wish the school would be closer to home.

  • 65. Peter  |  March 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    My CPS kindergarten child is doing fine with the 7 hour day. He’s reading which is nice.

  • 66. Lexus  |  March 5, 2013 at 11:35 am

    My child is doing good in K with a 7 hour day. It seems long to me but I guess if they are doing fun things in school. They won’t have any problems.

  • 67. Lexus  |  March 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

    @64 PatientCPSMom: Which school does our son go to? I like my daughter to go to a school that has arts, music, drama, dance and Spanish.

  • 68. Jen K  |  March 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    @64 – I could copy your post except I have a girl :-). My daughter loves, loves, loves school & also gets art, tech, PE, Music, Spanish in addition to literacy and math. The kids aren’t stuck at desks – they keep moving around not only within the class (via centers) but around the building for their various subjects. They get recess daily & gym 4 out of 6 days (our specials are on a 6 day cycle). The first few weeks are always tough on the kids – I also have a 4th grader who has to adapt every year. Sometimes I wish for a shorter day so we could fit in more after-school activities, but she doesn’t complain at all. I wouldn’t trade our 8:30 start for an earlier dismissal. I also wouldn’t want K students having a different dismissal than their older sibs. Same school, same schedule. I’m a happy mama!

  • 69. laura  |  March 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    @60, My younger child is in K at a very good school and while he does love school he is exhausted every night. We put him to bed at 7 p.m. and he sleeps until 7 a.m. and it doesn’t matter. Every single night is a melt down. This did not happen in the 2 years he was in 2.5 hour preschool. We think we should pull him out of school but then he will lose his spot and our neighborhood school is not one we have any confidence in. If things don’t improve next year, we will have to make some kind of a change. His older brother did not experience the same issues in a previous year. I think it

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