What are the advantages of a full-day, everyday kindergarten program?
Recently the subject of full-day kindergarten was again in the news due to a legal opinion from Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. Attorney General Dann opined that public school districts were no longer allowed to charge tuition for full-day kindergarten programs.
This was an issue because some districts across the state were forced to charge tuition because of the costs associated with the program. This is not an issue in Norwalk because our district does not charge tuition for the full-day kindergarten program.
The Norwalk City Schools have been offering full-day kindergarten for the last 3 1/2 years because we feel that this type of program offers significant educational advantages to our students.
Even though the state of Ohio does not provide funding for full-day kindergarten, over seventy percent of the school districts in the state offer some type of full-day kindergarten program.
Studies of full-day kindergarten have found both short- and long-term academic and social benefits.
In 1992, the Ohio Longitudinal study found that children who attended full-day kindergarten demonstrated more independent learning behaviors, more classroom involvement, and increased productivity in work with peers.
In addition, there were lower retention rates in full-day programs when compared to half-day programs. Another study, conducted by J. Elicker, in 1995, found that children in full-day programs are more frequently engaged in child-initiated and individualized learning activities.
Teachers in full-day classrooms said that they were able to provide a more relaxed, developmentally appropriate program. Additional advantages of full-day kindergarten programs are:
Teachers can devote more individual attention to the diverse needs of their students.
There is more time to integrate language arts, math, social studies, and science within the curriculum.
Special subjects such as art, music, and physical education can be more easily scheduled in a full-day program.
There is more time during the day to provide intervention and special education for students who require these services.
More time is available to implement the additional testing requirements recently mandated by state and federal legislation.
The overall elementary program is strengthened.
After 3 1/2 of operation, the staff and administration in Norwalk still feel strongly that full-day kindergarten better prepares our children for success in first grade.
Wayne Babcanec is superintendent of Norwalk City Schools. For more information on Norwalk City Schools, call (419) 668-2779.