Instead of saying goodbye to their teachers and friends at lunchtime during the school week, some Oakland County kindergartners will now be riding the buses home with the older elementary students after a full day of school.
The move to all day kindergarten classes is aimed at trying to improve the quality of education that children receive.
Although many parents feel that the long school hours may be stressful on their children, districts such as the Royal Oak Neighbourhood Schools have made efforts to resolve their concerns.
Positives and negatives
Mallory Green, a kindergarten teacher at Oakland Elementary in Royal Oak, understands the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating a full-day class schedule.
“Through the full-day kindergarten offerings now, parents have responded positively,” Green said. “(The full day) helps many working parents by providing them with an all-day experience where they don’t have to pay, so that they can work.”
However, Green said students tend to become tired and sometimes homesick as the day goes on. In order to help this issue, schools have included additional programs for their kindergartners to participate in.
“All students have Spanish and art opportunities, as well as opportunities to participate in all assemblies and school events,” Green said. “We end up treating the kindergarten students just like all the other students in the building, providing them with the same programs.”
Along with the Royal Oak elementary schools, the Avondale district will be joining the transformation.
George Heitsch, superintendent of Avondale Schools, said the district had been discussing the incorporation of full-day kindergarten for a decade.
“The move is good for the kids and for education as a whole,” Heitsch said. “It will make the transition from kindergarten to first grade easier for the students.”
Full-day kindergarten will allow schools to teach all five major subjects every day. Currently, schools alternate which subject is taught throughout the week.
“You just don’t have enough time to teach math, science, social studies, writing, and reading in a half-day program every day,” Green said.
The full day for kindergartners will bring more job opportunities for teachers. As class sizes increase, the need for additional help and equipment in the classroom is evident.
“Space and material comes into play when adding full-day programs,” Green said. “We need to make sure that each school is equipped with kindergarten-size classrooms, age-appropriate furniture and an additional supply of games, toys and learning/teaching materials.”
The addition of more teachers and classroom supplies will affect the schools’ budgets, Green said.
“The district gets more money per student for an all-day program than for a half-day program,” she said.
Although Green is not sure if the money goes directly to the elementary schools and their classrooms, she does know that the district will receive more funds if their schools carry the full-day kindergarten option.