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Moms Talk: Free, Full-Day Kindergarten, Yes or No?

Would your children attend full-day kindergarten?

 discussed offering free, full-day kindergarten to students in the future.

The district currently offers a free half-day program, but parents pay tuition for their kids to attend the entire day. 

Later this month, Superintendent Eric Knost will present a plan to the board that incorporates a tuition-free, full-day kindergarten for the district. This isn't something that would happen this year or next, but could be coming down the pipeline for the 2013-2014 school year.

What are your thoughts about free, full-day kindergarten? Have your children attended full or half-day, or none at all? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having them gone the entire day? 

Lisa May
I personally have always opted for half-day kindergarten (I have one there currently). I think my current kindergartener would have been fine going all day (she is a September birthday). However, my oldest two would have probably struggled. My daughter and son are both young in their class. My son, I believe, is the youngest in his grade. He started kindergarten just over a month after turning 5. 

That being said, both of my older children have been very successful in school. Would they have done better going to Kindergarten all day? My guess is no. My children's school accomplishments go back to early childhood experiences and what I did with them at home (and still do). 

I do believe that some children do benefit from going all day that is why I love to option in our district. My youngest is in school now, so I am glad that I had a choice. 

Samantha Goswami
That is good news for future full-day kindergarteners!

Since we both work full time. Half-day kindergarten was not an option for us. We went with the full day but at first I was surprised that you had to pay tuition for full-day. Most of my friends live in districts where full-day kindergarten is free so it seemed unfair.  

I think the advantage of letting the kids be at school full day is that they learn the school rules and are used to being out of the home for the whole day. Riding the bus also takes getting used to and then by first grade they are well ingrained in all the little rules and policies.

Karin Jackson
Can I admit with my name attached that I am grateful full-day kindergarten is not mandated by our district at this time?  I don't believe it's necessary and am glad my 4-year-old will be in half-day kindergarten next year, just as my other three were, just like I was. 

I am not just grateful because this is my baby, the last to leave the nest.  Nor do I feel any angst that her leaving the nest means I will be returning to the workforce. 

I believe kindergarten is a wonderful opportunity for children to begin to transition to full day school.  Wikipedia notes that Friedrich Fröbel created the concept of kindergarten as "a social experience for children for their transition from home to school."  I just don't think this social experience requires the entire day - five days per week. 

Academic benefits may be documented in research, by my three school-age children are active in our district's gifted program - and, again, attended half-day kindergarten.  When I watch the kindergarteners pour on and off the bus at my kids' school, I just marvel at how tiny they are. 

There is plenty of time in their lives to be big kids going to big kid school. I only get a few years to mold my children at home with my own rituals, outings, and teaching opportunities.  I'll just continue to thank my lucky stars that my little sweetie will not be attending school full-day next fall. 

My main question for the Mehlville School District is: Will full day {free} kindergarten be an option or a mandate? 

Jenny Wescoat
I think it is great that the Board is taking steps to implement full-day kindergarten. I am not a teacher, but from what I understand, the educational benefits extend well beyond elementary school. I also think, as Samantha mentioned, that half-day kindergarten would be a challenge for families where both parents work full-time. 

However, for my family, I am sad to think about full-day kindergarten, if that would be the only option. My kids have had a gradual transition from a church class once per week, then preschool a couple of mornings a week, and then half-day kindergarten before going full-day in first grade.

I'm not at all certain that full-day kindergarten would be a challenge for them, but I would really feel disappointed to lose that time with them. They are small for only so long... I like keeping some of the responsibility for teaching my kids early concepts, too. But I understand that not everyone shares that interest and may appreciate more formal education. 

In terms of logistics, I can imagine that it would make more sense for the schools to have everyone full-day. It must be a challenge for teachers to switch between two large half-day classes every day. And from the perspective of a parent with a larger-than-average family, I can see some benefits of full-day scheduling. Sometimes keeping two different school schedules and trying to manage that with other family members' schedules would be difficult.

HalfDayKindergarten.org January 11, 2012 at 09:34 PM
We must stop trading in childhood for budget lines and test scores! Children do not NEED Full Day Kindergarten. They need balance. Play is the work of children. Half Day Kindergarten needs to remain a choice. Studies show Half Day works. Please listen to what the experts have to say – The Alliance for Childhood, Race to Nowhere, The Finland Phenomenon… Take a stand… Protect the children, and preserve the rights of parents. – HalfDayKindergarten.Org
Liz January 12, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I'm well beyond kindergarten aged children however the previous comment talks about the "rights of parents" and "protecting children" is a bit of a stretch. Kindergarten is essentially optional in the state of MO until you enroll your child (then you are subject to compulsory attendance statutes.) Half day kindergarten in the Mehlville school district doesn't allow for much "free" time or much "play" time. Recess is relegated to once or twice a week. On the other hand, full day K students have daily recess and, typically, daily free choice center time. My older daughter attended school in a district that provided free full day K. She had free choice centers every day, daily recess, 3x week PE, 2x week art and music, and even 2x week technology/computer. My younger daughter attended K in Mehlville- half day because I am absolutely opposed to paying tuition to a public school district in which I reside. We were so blessed to have a fabulous teacher and a very, very small class size. Even with those things, she didn't have the same K experience her sister had, nor did she have an equal experience that full day K students had. This year, some schools in the Mehlville School District have half day K classes with 24 children. (And full day classes in the same building with much lower counts!) There is NO way to meet the needs of every child in the room with a count that high in so few minutes a day. I'd consider not sending my child in those circumstances.
Brenda Kimberlin February 22, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I do not want mandatory full-day kindergarten for my children. My oldest did well in a half-day program and she continues to do well in elementary school. There is no evidence that full-day kids do any better in the long run than 1/2 day kids. I voted agains the last bond issue because it included a plan for full day and I will vote against that issue again if it comes up. And I will vote against any Board Member who tries to push it through. The district's own survey found that 53% of the voters believe that full-day programs are not vital to our future success ... why is the board ignoring their own survey??
jannette turner November 29, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Kindergarten is not mandatory at all. you don't have to send your kid to school till 1st grade. I believe that full day kindergarten is awesome. My 18 and 16 yr old children attended full day kindergarten, and i didn't affect them in a bad way at all. I think it makes them smarter! This is my 2nd time around with 2 children attending K. Right now my 5 yr old attends 1/2 day, and my 4 yr old will attend k next year. The teachers have to squeeze alot of activities into a small amount of time. I'm all for all day kindergarten. I also believe that they are offering half day kindergarten to the people who don't want to send their kids all day. Its a preference. If you don't like don't send them. State money is paying for it anyway. Might as well take advantage of it. I think it's the best move for the Mehlville school dist. I hope they passed it in the meeting last night.

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