The always contentious issue of full-day kindergarten is back.
At yesterday’s Board of Education meeting, the topic of moving to 5 full days of kindergarten rose up during a discussion of K-5 instructional minutes, and special area scheduling.
There were passionate comments on both sides of the issue.
A 2nd meeting for further Board discussion — including public comment — is set for March 18 (7:30 p.m., Staples High School cafeteria). A vote will be taken April 8.
This is a hot topic, particularly among parents of young children. Click “Comments” to add your thoughts, in advance of the Board of Ed meeting.
Couldn’t attend but just curious – what are arguments against FDK?
Landon never gives up pushing for full day regardless of what parents and educators think.
Too numerous to list here. Try google
Here you go…Don’t thank me.
I found the Finnish study very interesting. I had not heard of it before…
Education funding — and way of life — in the very small country of Finland is very different than in the US, especially CT. From the Smithsonian article:
There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.
Yes – the funding is different – they spend less per student than we do. They have fewer standardized tests, yet do better on them – and outscore our kids by a substantial margin. But my personal favorite was this part:
“Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”
All of which explains why my boss is Finnish…uh, oh wait a second
Every couple of years we go through this debate in Westport. I am in favor of the full-day, with an opt-out to half days. The cost-savings (from the elimination of half-day bus runs) and the benefit of more time are advantages. I feel that most students are ready for the full-day, given their time already spent in pre-school. For those that worry about the long days, the opt-out needs to be in place.
This was up for discussion when my oldest was in kindergarten- there is no way he could have done it- he came home from K every day and took a nap. My daughter 3 years younger could have played all day without a nap- Kids are so different it’s hard to make sweeping decisions for all of them. I do remember Landon’s push said all the K teachers were behind the move to full day- turned out that was a load of crap- the teachers that did not agree knew they had to keep quiet!
I went to voice my stance on the K schedule—keep it as it is. K should be about instilling a love of school and learning, not burning out our kids. The 3 of mine who have gone thru K needed those short days! It’s a perfect balance. Now the proposal is for 5 intense days with = social skills time for kids in K and 5th grade: 30 minutes/day! Worse, the Core Standards curriculum laid out at the meeting puts all of our kids at risk of hating school! Language arts to switch focus from literature to “informational text”—50/50 in elementary school, including K. 5-yr-olds will be asked to regurgitate info about plants (this was the example given) rather than write fun stories. High schoolers: 70% informational books, 30% literature in language arts. Seriously??? This is the plan devised by Westport (the Core Standards adopted by our state just offers vague guidelines). So much for our great schools.
Is Westport adopting the Core Standards Curriculum?
CT (and about 45 other states) already adopted the core standards curriculum. Towns cannot opt out.
In a town like Westport there is little or no advantage to full day, unless you inlcude less free-play, less time for vigorous exercise, less time for imaginative play, and more time to be in a structured and stifling environment. OK…also more time for manicures and tennis lessons.
Dr. Landon does not support full day regardless of what educators think. Each time this has come up, the principals, other administrators and teachers charged with the quality of our childrens’ experiences in school basically beg the Board of Ed to give them more time. The fact is, children are rushed with the current schedule and there is no time for play, socialization or independent exploration. In addition to arguments that children are tired, the majority of the arguments against FDK are emotional and personal. While parents, of course, have every right to advocate for their needs and their children, it is up to the Board of Education to make a decision based on the collective educational value demonstrated by their highly qualified — and caring — professionals rather than individual family values. Those against FDK can no longer argue that children in surrounding towns don’t have it, because now they do. Seriously, in addition to having more stamina are the children in other towns more capable or do the families need more time with their children here?
Seems to be some confusion here. Dr. Landon is in full support of full day kindergarten as were all of the elementary school administrations. The only objections to it at this point are from a set of parents and likely some on the BOE.
Here is a link to a petition in favor of five full days : http://tinyurl.com/bjwtwnl
The petition includes several reasoned, well-researched statements in support of full day kindergarten that you may find helpful.
Also, last night Superintendent of the Westport Public Schools, Elliot Landon brought up that two of the recent Staples High School Valedictorians had gone to full day preschool! It’s true, two of the last four valedictorians are Children Community Development Center graduates – this year and in 2010, which is a 7:15 am to 5:30 pm program.
the Children s Community Development Center is a day care- The children take naps every day. That point is pointless!
CCDC is a fully accredited developmentally appropriate preschool 3’s and 4’s program. Yes, children have the option to take a nap — it IS potentially a long day — but even if you take out the nap time, the day is still 2 hours longer than the 6:3/4 hour normal school day. I offered this up as a data point, that full day programs aren’t necessarily all bad.
CCDC is a fully accredited developmentally appropriate preschool – but it is a daycare. CCDC was the Children’s Community Daycare Center and Changed it’s name. And unless things have changed since my child was there there is a required Nap/Rest time. The day is longer because they are providing a service for working parents. You can not compare this to full day Kindergarten –
So you think your kid will become valedictorian if they go to full day preschool? And if so, who cares!
Gotta say my kid went to CCDC and he is not on track to be Valedictorian nor are his peers from the classes above or below him. Ridiculous comment/point.
All the facts and civility are coming from parents in favor of full time K; the bile and insults are coming from those against. Just like at past debates on the topic.
So true! I hope that the Board of Education is paying attention and supports facts and civility — and their educators.
Should have said that Dr. Landon does not support FDK regardless but supports it in addition to his administrators.
WTF? Take a “Mulligan” and write a clear sentence, please?
Tough crowd! It was not possible to place italics or bold on “regardless” and “in addition to”. Didn’t realize the conversation included grammar police like anonymous with such a gift for writing elegant phrases like “WTF”.
Wakeman Town Farm 😉
Ya gotta be clear…this is a tough crowd. We like your sense of humor. Post again !
Please treat other parents with more respect. I hate to think how your kids must treat their classmates
That is my worry. Remember that poster, “Children Learn What They Live”?
I used worked in the education sector as a private consultant. From the many years I have spent studying this issue, I fully reject the notion that full-day is better for the children. You can throw out all of the stats and reports you’d like, but this issue is not in a vacuum. You must look at the larger picture and integrate its impact, effectiveness, value, etc., with how all other levels of higher learning are structured. Furthermore, there have actually been a couple of “controversial” studies published stating that there is a clear mental and physical ‘switch’ in the transitory ages of Gr. K to Gr. 1. In particular regard to how children process the instruction of new concepts in a communal setting and the ability to obtain that much information in a full day versus half-day.
I used to live in Westport and have no young children, so I do not have a dog in this fight. But I urge the Board of Ed to proceed with caution. Do not fall into this manufactured trap that full day is more beneficial.
I have three children, all of whom have very different educational needs and none of whom were able to have those educational needs addressed in a typical K setting. So while I send my current 5 year old to K for play and socialization – all of her academic education happens at home. More time at K means less time for home based academic instruction, character education and play. Adding 120 minutes per day will allow a teacher in a class of 20 to spend an additional 6 minutes of individual instruction with each student. That is incredibly inefficient. I would venture to guess that my kindergartner gets more academic instruction cuddling on the couch with me reading books after school for 2 hours on Mondays than she does in an entire week of K.
This is true even as they get older. My kids all needed more downtime, especially in elementary school.
Now we homeschool. : ) We have outside classes 3 days a week, regular after school activities and still have time for work and relaxing at home. Not saying it’s for everyone, but if you’re not happy with the system, there are always other options.
j.j.j Schmidt and Dr. Lamb, I totally agree.
Educator, I listened to the curriculum plan last night and saw the breakdown of instructional minutes. If they were in fact planning to add more “play, socialization or independent exploration” to the schedule I might be in favor of 5 longs. But they are NOT. The schedule will be more academic than ever. When 3 long days were implemented, there were to be 2 recesses and one choice time (or 1 recess and 2 choices if bad weather). My kids never got that last year in K and next year will be worse. We need Monday and Friday afternoons for the “play, socialization and independent exploration” they aren’t getting at school. Let’s be leaders, not followers. No one has proven full-day K is better for kids except in low-income areas where the alternative is daycare and even then they are comparing to a half-day program with five 3-hour days. Our kids do three 7-hour days and two 5-hour days. It’s plenty for 4- and 5-year-olds!
I wonder if someone could also comment on the idea that this would be budget neutral? Dr. Landon indicated that there would be no additional cost because the teachers are already there being paid for a full day anyway. This statement seems to suggest that these teachers are sitting in the classrooms twiddling their thumbs for a few hours before they go home. We are either the stupidest people in the world for currently paying them to sit around and do nothing, or, as I would suspect, this is likely not the case. If they are filling other functions around the school, we would then need to hire additional staff to fill those functions.
I was at the meeting last night. The teachers are fulfilling some other duties around other schools and for other programs but the administrators assured the board that these functions can be covered within the existing budget and headcount through some rescheduling and reallocation. No additional headcount was requested. Yes, we’re basically getting something for free. Remember, the proposal only adds 4 hours per week to the schedule.
Going to full time K removes an additional bus run two times per week. It’ll end up saving money. This is not the most important reason in favor of full time K, but it is another reason why the arguments against it are not strong.
This is a smoke screen to cover up some of the other issues on which Landon has been meeting resistence.
Now the truth starts to come out.
Dr. Landon has been at the helm of this very successful school district for close to fifteen years. Why do people resort to conspiracy theories to argue against an educationally sound decision that all but one of our peer school districts has implemented?
It is clear that you have a vested interest, here. What’s your deal? Why are you pining for this? Reminds me of the special interest groups in DC.
Nope, no special interest. I don’t work for the public schools and am well past child-bearing years. Just a concerned citizen and educator who is dismayed by the accusations and underlying mistrust this issue seems to encourage in this town. I am pining for sensibilty and civility.
Educator – Thank you for your comments. I apologize on behalf of some of my fellow parents who are throwing verbal spitballs your way.
Thank you civil parent!
People don’t trust Landon because he is and will always be an overpaid bully. Success of the Westport system is not because of him. Ask the educators in Ridgefield who worked under him previously.
The school district was “very successful” before Landon get here and it will be “very successful” after he leaves.
More time in school is not necessarily beneficial.
I cannot believe that some people are using a 7:15-5:30pm/5 days a week daycare as the example of what is best for children! If a single parent has to work those long hours, the child doesn’t have a choice. But as someone mentioned, for a 5 year old to have the chance twice a week to be home in the afternoon reading books with a parent on the sofa or having those treasured “play dates”? Sounds ideal! Kindergarten isn’t all about getting a headstart on a lifetime of competition, I think.
Of course no one is recommending kindergarten hours be extended to 715-530. Larry’s point was simply that (with a quiet time; barely any of them nap anymore) the four year old CCDC students do quite well, and are playing with each other with high energy levels at day’s end.
My child attended K-6 grade in a nearby town. Kindergarten had alternate long (with half the class) & short days i.e. M & W long, T, Th & everyone was short on Fridays. Switching mid-year with those who had long days on T & Th, this way the teachers could spend some quality time in a smaller classroom setting.
Long days didn’t matter to my child since they transitioned to an after school day care, after a few weeks it became routine.
If five full days means that my children will have more time for traditional kindergarten activities (social time, play, art) in between the push-down academics, then I am okay with it.
I won’t name names, but I know of at least one parent vehemently opposed to five full days who is also so eager to make sure that school is academic. I can’t quite get a handle on what she wants. And while I can’t say she speaks for everyone as I know many who long for what kindergarten looked like for us, I imagine there are plenty of people who oppose five full days but cry foul when they feel their precious children are not learning enough.
Actually, each time the margin was 4 to 3 not exactly a wide margin.
I was referring to the parents that came to testify in person and the others who wrote letters, etc. I wasn’t talking about Landon’s little puppets.
If this jackass continues to push his agenda I will NEVER support ANY budget increase. Obviously he has more budget than he knows what to do with.
And by the way, Jim Marpe was one of his puppets.
That guy pretends to be on the other side, but he actually plays for the same team. Just another tool!
Only Kristin and Sandy Felice were members who put children before politics.
That he is !!
People on the losing side of an argument often resort to insulting the motives and character of those on the other side. I’ve never seen the horns on Dr Landon’s head that you keep talking about.
Board of Ed members have always been scared of Landon and do as they are told in most situations.
Wow! Tough crowd. Everyone is entitled to their opinion so why not be respectful? I too was at the meeting last night and am in favor of five full days. I have children in the WPS and an incoming kindergartener. Bottom line for me is that the curriculum is changing and is far more rigorous than in the past. The expectations are higher throughout all grades. Longer days will allow our teachers the time they need to teach in a less rushed way. Have you been in a kindergarten classroom lately? It is structured at times (as it should be) but the children are learning through play and fun activities. They don’t sit at desks and do worksheets for 6 hours a day. No, it’s not like a play based preschool and many of the activities are teacher directed. But, then again, it’s not preschool. Despite what some people think, Dr. Landon is a bright man who cares a lot about our children and our schools and supports his administrators and teacher. Nobody is perfect but shouldn’t we have some faith in our educators?
BTW, I am a stay at home mom by choice, I don’t play tennis and am sorely in need of a manicure. More importantly, I love spending time with my kids.
As someone who’s new to town with one child past kindergarten (who attended 5 full days) and another one entering kindergarten (who attends a 5 full day pre-school) I think it should be up to the parent, not the educator to decide what’s best for their child.
What I am more concerned about, that was mentioned previously, is Westport adopting Common Core Standards. We just moved from a school system where my child was taught Common Core for a year and he was BEHIND in math when he began at Westport. Whether or not the days are longer doesn’t seem as important as what the students are being taught.
Just to add a historical reference to this discussion, this is the an article (2007) from the the move from half day to its current schedule.
Looks like full-day K has been a work in process for years. One quote references what will K look like in 5 years – a full day program. Well here we are people, Elliot is getting his wish. As he said last night, it is only 4 more hours of school and 2 valedictorians were in a full day preschool. I am sorry, but what dumb comments from a man in his position. Completely immature. I find myself wanting to keep the current schedule not just because I think it is developmentally appropriate, but I think that the basis for a full day is centered around testing and tied to salaries. We are to blame that we created this environment and now our kids have to suffer. Today, I heard a mom today say to another mom about how her elementary school son is stressed because of the CMTs. Really? It just makes me sad. Plus, I seriously can’t get over his comments… Seriously Elliot? Really?
We’ve had valedictorians for years with only 1/2 day K. And most went to Ivy league schools! The number of Staples kids accepted at Ivys won’t go up because of full day K. How about some down time or fun time at home for these young children?
In Westport?! Unheard of.
It sounds to me that if someone doesn’t get their way on anything in this town it must be because they’re up against an ogre and his henchmen!
How about realizing that maybe there are several paths to the same destination- getting our kids socialized, civilized and educated. And it starts by us acting socialized, civilized and educated. In person or on an anonymous blog!
Glib nastiness comes across as glib nastiness- I don’t think we want our kids to learn that from us- whether they go to half day or full day kindergarten!!
Have you listened to Obama and the dems the past 5 years? I would say our dear leaders are the most nasty, it starts from the top.
Nemo – hear, hear. I came to Dan’s website for the first time this morning and am disappointed by the insults being thrown around by those on one side of this argument. Parents on both sides sincerely think their position is the best for their kids; if everyone would try to remember that this would be a much more productive discussion (and with much less spittle).
Connecticut is one of 46 states that has adopted the Common Core State Standards. It’s not optional and requires a more rigorous and demanding curriculum, even for Kindergarden students. Common Core clearly defines what students are expected to know and do at each grade level and all public schools will be held accountable through national standards-based testing. Westport doesn’t get to choose whether they want to adopt the Common Core or the assessment tests – it’s mandatory! It’s not a choice of whether Westport K teachers will teach the Common Core curriculum in schools, it’s how they will able to teach it. The standards require long hours of instruction in literacy and math. Active, hands-on, play-based learning takes more time than “drill and grill”.
Well said JustTheFacts! The students that need it will also benefit from early intervention.
I imagine Westport surpasses already Common Core State Standards-
Any initiative put in place that effect the entire state, Westport is going to be ahead of the game on.
Perhaps but not necessarily. When I moved to Westport from Queens in 1976 the Westport curriculum was about a year behind what I had been taught in NY. Now, that was a million years ago, I acknowledge. But don’t assume that other kids in other towns and states aren’t smart and hard-working, too.
I suppose that the common core only applies to K, since that is apparently the only grade that needs and additional 4 hours of instruction to meet the standard…. or will all of the other grades ask for an additional 4 hours per week too?
Also, nothing in the common core seems to indicate a need for more instructional time because most of what is indicated- we already do, or can be done with small modifications in the current curricula. For example, there was a lot of discussion about the need to “shift” from what the kids currently read in K- 75% fiction, 25% “informational text” to the new standard 50% – fiction, 50% “informational text”…. that does not require an increase in instructional time… someone just needs to go to the library and swap out The Three Little Pigs and Hop on Pop with books about Butterflies and Rainbows.
Concerned parent: The proposal for Full day K was part of an larger plan proposed by the Director of Elementary Education, Cynthia Gilchrest and the elementary school principals to increase instructional minutes at the elementary level. The integration of ITL and library across all grades will allow for additional instructional minutes grades K-5. The plan also includes a proposal to reduce total PE class time for 5th grade by 10 minutes (so each class would be 40 minutes rather than 45). The most obvious place to add instructional minutes is at the K level since we currently have a hybrid schedule of 3 full days and 2 extended days. In order to teach the curriculum in a developmentally appropriate way – one that is relaxed and allows kindergarteners with plenty of time to explore, wonder, play etc., the teachers need that extra time.
One more thing to consider – there are currently 4 or 5 states (including CT) piloting a program to add an additional 300 hours of instructional time in the school year. Who knows what the future will hold.
Shoe salesmen will try to sell you more shoes, interior decorators will try to to sell you more furniture and educators will try to sell you more education. It is time for educated consumers to decide when enough is enough. A teacher will never tell you they need less time to teach- so unless we want our kids in school 40 hours per week, all summer long medicated to kingdom come- it is time to draw a line in the sand.
I am sorry you have so little faith in the people teaching your children. Perhaps you should consider another option. Never mind that the teachers and administrators in Westport have our children’s best interest at heart, they actually have personal lives – families of their own and interests outside of teaching our children. Are you really comparing our educators to sales people? I find that incredibly insulting. They don’t get paid more for trying to persuade us to buy into a change in our educational structure. They are paid to develop and manage a high quality education for the children of very demanding parents. They do the job we ask them to do and then we don’t bother listening to them because we are so convinced that we know better. Tragic.
Yes- you are right- educators here are also parents- and as an educator and a parent I do not support the change. Others have mentioned on the blog that if you as the teachers privately, they do not support the change. Could I teach my students more if I had more time? Possibly… Would they actually learn more…. Probably not.
As for the “my way or the highway” stuff… It is probably not worth responding to- other than to say that for the parents who really want full day- there are lots of other options – in private school.
To ananomommy – It’s incredibly rude to tell parents in favor of full time K to leave the public school system. We’re not the ones who called Westport’s public school teachers cowards and liars; you are. Why you want your children taught by people you don’t respect is baffling.
To concerned parent – in addition to other improvements, the common core curriculum adds more math to the K-3 years, which is something I’m happy about.
Common Core State Standards PDFs for Grade k-2 and Grade 2-12
My concern is what will the implications of those changes be. Right now it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to go from 75% fiction to 50% fiction. But how does that affect the students in the long term? There is no evidence that the Common Core Standards will be beneficial to the kids further down the road. I’m not trying to stand in the way of innovation, but Westport is not a broken school system. In fact one it’s one of the reasons we moved here. And as someone who just moved from a school where they were using Common Core I think the education my child is receiving here is far superior.
I realize these are state standards, but that doesn’t mean as parents we shouldn’t be allowed to voice our concerns and possibly make a difference in changing things.
The Common Core curriculum standards were adopted by the state of Connecticut (along with 45 other states). Westport and every other CT school district are required to align their curriculum to the Common Core Standards. Westport has been working on that for the last year or more by implementing Singapore Math, creating a balanced literacy program and reviewing and re-writing curriculum as needed. The standards apply to all grades – K-12 – and are more rigorous and demanding. The intent is to teach our children the 21st century skills they need to succeed. I think one misconception is that the standards are simple and easy to understand because, after all, there’s an app for that! Please don’t be fooled. Before I formed my opinion on FDK, I talked to a lot of administrators to try to understand the changing landscape of education and the challenge of the common core. What I was told was that translating the standards and adapting them to curriculum is a complex process, even for experts in the field. The standards do not vary from school district to school district. What may differ is the amount of resources or money to support the rewriting of curriculum or provide professional development to teachers, paras and administrators. We non-educators should not assume that we are better able to interpret the standards, the type of curriculum needed to meet the standards and the time teachers need to implement that curriculum than our dedicated, well educated and highly experienced educators and administrators.
K parent – very helpful post; thank you.
I have to chime in her…I stood up and spoke the year they approved the Full Day K schedule…I was SOO thankful they approved it. My oldest child had a great experience and could have handled the full day 5 days…(We must not forget, it’s not just about learning the entire time, it’s about social skills, doing fun projects…maybe even learnign a language, and the most important, it give the teacher more time for one on one evaluations and support!)
I now live in Monroe and my little on is in Kindergarten..Last year spent good money on a really great daycare..and was excited to have my youngest finally in “School”..OH WAS I MISTAKEN!!..They have half day Kindergarten with a “KinderAcademy” which is really just an after school program here in Monroe…and my kindergarten experience is so different I don’t even know where to begin…The teachers just Do not have enough time to cover to work one on one with the kids with the exception of evaluations…so evaluations have rolled around, my little one could not focus, and would not do her reading..so now she has to go for extra reading help….If this was a full day situation, this would not have happened. Thankfully the future children of Monroe Public Schools with be able to attend kindergarten Full Day, and there isn’t hardly a peep from the public aside from remarks about what took so long! A refreshign change from the constant battles of Westport…My grandmother said it best…No one in Westport Gov’t is happy unless they are fighting over something!!
You are one of a very small minority. My experience with my three kids, and parents of other kids, and other family members, and friends, and neighbors (you get the point) is the complete opposite. Full-day K is just too much and actually has a negative effect on the entire learning process for the kids.
To Westporter4ever – that’s great news. And consistent with the experience of the vast majority of parents in the other towns in our area (Westport is the only town in our DRG not yet to have yet passed full time K).
Dept heads, principals, Bd of Ed, and other administrators always do as they are told by Landon. They will lose their jobs otherwise. Ask them in private if you don’t believe me. This has been going on for years. Check the transcripts of Bd of Ed meetings. These folks never disagree with Landon. Especially when he invites/orders a group of principals to attend and speak to Bd of Ed. Talk to the teachers privately for real information.
Teachers have far more contact and difficulty with parents who bully them than with the superintendent. The vicious tone of several of these comments is testament.
The difference being that the parents are not their boss. Landon is. So, your argument is not really valid.
Are you new to Westport?
I have lived in Westport for over 20 years. Is that considered “new”?
To Fact checking – great point. I’m sure if you asked a bullying parent if she is “the boss of” her children’s teachers she would say, of course. And as you say, the nastiness of some of the comments posted here by parents against full time K gives us a flavor of what some teachers must have to deal with.
Sounds like Teach2 has a lot of info that most of us don’t have access to. (People being fired for disagreeing with you know who!!)
I have only heard and read about how well the school system is doing! Tops in academics, tops in dramatics, tops in musical programs, tops in sports, tops in every area you can think of (Robotics, culinary arts, math teams, blah, blah blah..)! Not to mention the National merit scholars and Siemans Westinghouse scholars- how many do surrounding communities have- they don’t just happen- some one has to hire the teachers and coordinators to make things happen!!).
Teachers are trying to get into our system- not bailing out!
So I guess we can all say that our handsome, gifted and brilliant children are succeeding in spite of Elliot Landon, Westport’s teachers and the School Board (made up of interested volunteer town residents- who become frightened, timid followers of a hired professional- neither Democrats nor Republicans are not immune the newly recognized and dreaded “Landonitis”) .
Does anyone seriously think our kids will be damaged by a few more hours in school!! Does anyone seriously think that calling people names and making unfounded allegations is an acceptable way to make a point.
If a few people on the blog got their way we will be reading in the Westport News how property values in Westport are dropping because the schools in the surrounding communities are attracting away newcomers to the area!
For what it’s worth, Westport’s school rankings have been slowly dropping and Weston’s has been rising at a fast rate. Just saying.
Westport used to be several spots above Weston. Over the years, Weston has crept forward and is now ranked above Westport:
Your position is confusing: 1) Westport’s school rankings have been dropping; 2) by all means, let’s NOT add 4 more hours to the Westport kindergarten school curriculum.
Kids are succeeding because of the teachers and parents here in Westport.
Well said. There were many years when the P&Z regs were so restrictive because, of course, everyone wanted to be here. Once new restaurants were opening in Fairfield and SoNo and not in Westport, they woke up and relaxed the regs and now we have some new places. I have a friend who was looking at houses in Westport and once she found out that there was no full day kindergarten here, her family decided to move to Darien instead.
If full-day K is the reason your friend did not come to Westport, it is probably for the best. How petty and absolutely ridiculous, especially considering the fact that full-day K does not have enough substantial evidence to back up its ‘benefits.’
I’m sure that she would agree that it is for the best, although the “petty and absolutely ridiculous” seem more relevant to your response than to her decision to provide her child with a better kindergarten experience.
And not surprisingly, you choose to ignore the second half of my sentiment where I explain why I personally feel it is “petty and absolutely ridiculous.” If that is the ultimate deciding factor for her in choosing a town where she will raise her children, it is concerning. Because full-day K is still not a proven entity.
A simple google search of your name indicates that you have opinions — expressed with pointed hostility — on many issues. Not sure what your background is, but no one has expertise in all the areas you choose to comment on. Full day kindergarten is the standard and has been successful across the state and the country – Westport needs to catch up.
Whoa, hold on a second. Have you forgotten about Cliff Clavin?
You do not need to be an “expert” to comment on issues and for many of the issues I do comment on, I research and explore. It’s not very difficult to become educated if you have the time (semi-retirement has its benefits!). Move on, Fact checker…you do not fact check well and your checking days are over.
No need to be so nasty, Frank. Not everyone who disagrees with you is “petty and absolutely ridiculous.”
Because CT has adopted the Common Core, EVERY school in CT – including Westport – must align their curriculum with the core standards. IT’S NOT OPTIONAL. The Common Core has very specific standards that must be met and it requires higher standards of academic proficiency of all children, especially kindergartners. As a result, teachers need more classroom time for academics. Parents who are concerned that our kids (especially our youngest) are going to have more structured instruction time are absolutely right. This is a reality for schools nationwide, not something that Westport has chosen or has control over. Because greater blocks of academic time will be required, if Westport does not move to full day K next year, there simply will be less time for non-core activities like art, music, PE and free choice. There will also be less time for teacher-directed individual work, experimentation, exploration and fewer opportunities for play. Supporting full day K is our best option to help our children receive the highest level of public education possible.
Just because it is mandatory, it doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. The idea behind the Common Core was well intentioned and, I think, a positive one. But as always when it comes to the public sector, it was poorly executed and has been a major disappointment. In my personal opinion.
Read the compelling arguments by the most esteemed educators and psychologists in our country. A longer schedule and the increased rigor of the Core Standards curriculum that has been proposed will have negative effects in the long-term in every area of our kids’ lives, academics included:
The Crisis in Early Education
The Wisdom of Play: How Children Learn to Make Sense of the World
Crisis in the Kindergarten
Pressure Cooker Kindergarten
My view: Obama, Romney need to know one thing about early childhood education – start over
Why Kids Hate School
I have so much to say that it will be hard to be brief, but let’s start with the fact that my only child is graduating from high school this year and as a psychologist I spend much of my days with young children who go to schools.
Young children are very diverse in their developmental needs. For each parent who will tell you that full days was great you can find one to tell you it was a disaster. Many parents say, “They can handle it.” I can’t tell you how I abhor that expression, because children “handle” war, divorce, concentration camps, starvation, neglect, abuse….
But over and over, in this chain of discussion, some have tried to present the research. If we all agree to avoid the stance:don’t bother me with the facts I have my opinion, then the evidence in the research is mildly compelling: little is gained by having middle class and affluent children in school all day, and there is much to be gained by having children regulate and design their own learning and exploration outside of school.
What children will gain by spending all of each school day in school is primarily what adults need from them. What children will gain by having time outside of school is what they need for themselves. Let’s not fool ourselves, for the most part children spend all day in school to advance adult ambitions. And there is little linear connection between direct instruction of academics in kindergarten and future school success. What matters is the ability to self-regulate, delay gratification, monitor one’s behavior, tolerate frustration, and communicate one’s needs and concerns. Those factors predict long-time school success, assuming no learning difficulties, not being taught to read , write, and calculate at age 5.
As far as the Common Core goes, let’s have a frank talk about those standards. These are standards designed by non-educators. The standards have not been tested and no one knows if they will actually improve education. The testing aligned with these unevaluated standards is equally as un-researched. However, despite all the lack of knowledge/research our children will be subjected to testing and curricular modifications that guide instruction (would you give your child medicine that has not undergone rigorous research? or even buy a child safety seat without researching such things?). You can be sure teachers will be teaching to tests even when their experience and intuition say “This is ridiculous” because now teachers will be evaluated based on their student’s test scores. So of course 4 and 5 year old children need a more rigorous instructional model even though we have no idea if it will make them better thinkers and learners.
In contrast we know that free exploration and play does increase all sorts of skills.
Additionally, teaching young children to read and calculate at an early age does not lead to a more intellectual, academically challenged, talented, or studious young adult. Play does correlate highly with all sorts of important later-in life skills.
Lastly, in a conversation I had with the authors of the primary grade Common Core standards, I discovered that they do no have great confidence in those standards and are spending lots of time trying to teach teachers how to teach academic skills playfully. Let me tell you doing academics playfully is not play. Playing a game with dice, is math, it is not play. Teachers are pressured every day to make the primary grades look like the rest of elementary school. Just because young children can “handle it” does not mean all this pushing down of the curriculum and instructional strategies into the earliest grades is good for them or our future .
So, if you want what is best for young children then the entire concept of kindergarten needs revamping to allow those who flourish with all the structure time to flourish and to allow those who need other types of educational experiences time for those.
OH one more thing, Many years ago, when we fought this battle, the thing that really clued me into the fact that the full day kindergarten concept was not about children and learning, was when a second recess was “optional” How can we discuss young children without also discussing fresh air and exercise, digging in the dirt, making noise, etc. Who wants their 4 or 5 year old sitting inside all day? And what does this do for health and the issues of obesity. I can assure you, in the best independent schools, where children enter kindergarten at an older age, they get two recess periods, and they go outside every day unless it is raining.
Again, PE which must be shortened to get more “learning” time is not play, so saying that children get exercise two times most days, one little recess and a PE class, to move around is essentially ignoring what is good for children.
Jill, you have hit the nail on the hand. Holy cow. Nice job.
And by hand, I mean head. Oops.
Bravo!! Thank you so much for articulating all of that!
Jill – Any chance you want to speak at the Board of Education Meeting on March 18th? This is better than any of us could have said. Thank you!
Though I am happy to comment, my voice is probably not welcome and may not be helpful. However, I will be sure to write to all the BOE members and state my case. You are welcome to use use what I have written, as well. I am happy to discuss my thoughts with you further if you like.
For those of you who doubt Jill’s comments about recess being important, read the recent Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics on its importance.
Thank you for the emails!
JillG, it’s a shame that your post repeatedly, albeit eloquently, implies that parents who claim to support full time kindergarten for their kids are lying (to themselves, or outright) and that they simply want to make their own lives easier. Parents on both sides of this issue want what’s best for their children. This debate would be quite a bit healthier if we could stick to facts and not ascribe nasty motives to the other side.
“K Parent” wrote this “Bottom line for me is that the curriculum is changing and is far more rigorous than in the past” in a comment up above. Does it bother any one besides me that the word “rigorous” is in any way associated witha kindergarten curriculum?
In this town? Absolutely not. Parents need to CHILL the eff out and just leave it at half-day. Our parents are so competitive and pretentious and obnoxious — why do you think our town has the reputation it does???
If our town does have the bad reputation you mention, one possible reason could be found in the nasty tone of so many of the comments, above, from those against full time K.
Though it is true that our school system/town demonstrates enormous hubris in presenting itself as so great, rather than just focussing on constant genuine improvement, it is also true that many of the problems our system currently faces come from state level mandates. The current state head of education for CT and the governor demonstrate little regard for what is best for children and what produces the best teaching and learning environment. The problems our town face are pervasive. We are jumping through hoops to meet very poor, maybe harmful, state and federal mandates. There are some wonderfully courageous superintendents in other states who have begun to push back. Check out Bedford, New York, for example. For our town to change course, move away from unproven testing and standards as the road map to good teaching/instruction and appropriate learning objectives, while at the same time embracing practices that produce creative thinkers and life-long learners ready to take on the responsibilities of adulthood in a democracy, we need to unify into a cohesive voice of well informed citizens. Until then what you see is what we will have much more of in the years to come.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jill G. Everything she says is backed up in the article links I provided above. The Common Core Standards were developed without the input of educators. It’s INSANE. As Jill G says, the backlash has already started. We can jump on a bandwagon that experts have already deemed destined to crash or we can set our town apart as a leader, not follower, in educational reform. The academic K model was proven to be misguided in Germany years ago. Why are we decades behind the research?…
“Long-term research casts doubt on the assumption that starting earlier on the teaching of phonics and other discrete skills leads to better results. For example, most of the play-based kindergartens in Germany were changed into centers for cognitive achievement during a wave of educational “reform” in the 1970s. But research comparing 50 play-based classes with 50 early-learning centers found that by age ten the children who had played in kindergarten excelled over the others in a host of ways. They were more advanced in reading and mathematics and they were better adjusted socially and emotionally in school. They excelled in creativity and intelligence, oral expression, and “industry.” As a result of this study German kindergartens returned to being play-based again.
China and Japan are envied in the U.S. for their success in teaching science, math, and technology. But one rarely hears about their approach to schooling before second grade, which is playful and experiential rather than didactic. Finland’s children, too, go to playful kindergartens, and they enter first grade at age seven rather than six. They enjoy a lengthy, playful early childhood. Yet Finland consistently gets the highest scores on the respected international PISA exam for 15-year-olds.”
I have lots more where that came from if anyone wants more data and professional insights.
If you want to be well informed about the common core and/or remain/get actively engaged in promoting strong education see http://dianeravitch.net/2013/03/07/breaking-news-new-group-to-oppose-corporate-reforms/
Also for local news about how CT education is going check out Jonathan Pelto http://jonathanpelto.com/
Warning this last blog might make you sick with disgust for how our leaders are mucking up so many young lives and the lives of teachers.
It’s amazing that students from Staples ever got excepted to college in past years, since they only had 1/2 day K.
If you haven’t signed the petition to keep the K schedule as is, please do! If you aren’t sure you want to sign, please re-read Jill G’s statement above. Then sign it, and then have your husband sign it, and then forward it to your friends. Let the BOE know that most parents are not interested in signing up their 5-year-olds for the Race to Nowhere:
I have been reading the rash of comments generated today and I have to admit I am very confused. Why are folks so angry? If we just look at all the factors involved we will find that though we all want the best for young children there are diverse pressures at play. why can’t we have different points of view without hostility? and why must we agree? I personally am not in favor of full day kindergarten because every need expressed as an educational need can be fulfilled outside the classroom, young children are developmentally diverse, there most certainly will not be adequate fresh air and exercise. I am also not in favor of an intervention that is guided by adult needs rather than the needs of children. Schools need more time to prepare children for testing that is not yet researched and is of questionable developmental appropriateness, and to better teach to a “rigorous” curriculum. Parents need children in school full time because their children have lots of energy and need to socialize easily in a safe school community. Parents need child care that is affordable. Will children be happier, smarter, better able to handle academic pressure, and will they be better life long learners for having spent more hours in kindergarten? I doubt it. Will they, conversely, be less happy, less equipped to handle school , learning, social pressures, and will they be less likely to grow into life long learners if they spend two more days per week in school all day. I have no idea. But I can tell you that as children have had less time to play freely, explore their limits without adult supervision, and have had less time to use symbolic play to develop skills and make sense of their world my private practice has grown and flourished. children are more anxious and more dependent than ever. They are more stressed and feel more vulnerable than ever. I am not convinced that the extra time in school will serve them well. BUT I am also sure that the hostility and anger I have read through this morning will neither serve our community nor the children we love in a positive way. If we start with what is good for children and why, I am sure we can come to a compromise that works well (where a compromise is defined as a solution in which everyone walks away a bit dissatisfied.
JillG – I respect your opinion. But my opinion is different: in my opinion, and backed by the studies I’ve read, an additional four hours per week (160 hours per school year) will be highly beneficial to our kids. In particular, they’ll have had more time to learn to play with / interact with / negotiate with / solve problems with / and get along with groups of their peers.
(And then when they grow up, perhaps they’ll be less likely to leave the types of nasty posts on blogs that some of those against full time kindergarten have left here.)
I am sorry that my thoughts were misunderstood: implies that parents who claim to support full time kindergarten for their kids are lying (to themselves, or outright) and that they simply want to make their own lives easier.
I did not mean to say that parents are selfish etc. What I meant, quite respectfully, is there are many pressures and issues that need to be considered in making the full day decision, and not all of those issue specifically concern the educational needs of very young children. That does not make those concerns selfish, trivial, or unimportant. Moreover, what I was trying to say is if we could leave emotion out of the discussion, even just a bit, stick to the research on child development, learning, etc we could come up with a resolution that leaves fewer bruises on our collective skin. At the same time I was saying I have an opinion, as a psychologist and educator, which I am entitled to have, It is not my intent to belittle others or suggest that there is no validity to opposing positions. If this issues was clear cut we would not be in the midst of a debate, yet again.
I think “deep reading” of the full day kindergarten research is mixed, that most of the research that has been done has been conducted in communities with high rates of poverty or at least low SES, and the definition of “full day” is broad. If we put pros and cons on a big spread sheet, I do not think we would find a clear winner. Moreover, it is not so much about full day kindergarten, per se, but how the day is used. What efforts can teachers make in a group 20 children (for round numbers) to promote strong social problem solving skills, while , at the same time, teaching a rigorous academic program? How much support and training do teachers get to promote strong social skills and resilience throughout the day? Despite best intentions academic pressures most often prevail. Few kindergarten teachers embrace a full academic day, but they are under enormous pressures. Lastly, because young children are developmentally quite diverse their needs for socializing in groups, their ability to tolerate adult imposed structure, and their need for self-directed investigation of their world varies profoundly. This too puts pressures on teachers, because their students are not always “with” them. I would say, however, that most children hold it together all day, and then those for whom this setting is most stressful, come home and completely fall apart. At that is my biggest concern. Though a robust child with a certain type of temperament and social skill set will thrive in the intensity of full day K there are those for whom it really is a hardship. Therefor, on my imagined spread sheet I would also like to include hardships. What hardship are there for all involved in having full day K and for maintaining the current plan? Once all the information is on the spread sheet, then let’s talk and LISTEN. I believe a fair solution will bubble to the surface.
JillG – a very thoughtful post.
I would suggest the following: since most parents favor full time K (compare, e.g., the larger number of signatories to the petition in favor of FT K in Westport vs the petition against, despite the fact that those against have resorted to having out of town relatives sign their petition), why not initiate FT K in Westport, and then parents who don’t care for it pick up their children early on two pre-set days a week? Wouldn’t that satisfy the most people? This is what’s been done in other towns (though, in other towns, after a few weeks hardly any parents continue to pick up their children early).
Forgot to type in my pseudonym.
– Civil Parent
As always, I’m totally with you Jill G., as are the top educators and psychologists in this country.
Here is a letter to our BOE from
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education, Lesley University, Cambridge, Mass.
Edward Miller, Founding Partner, Alliance for Childhood; Former editor, Harvard Education Letter; Wellfleet, Mass.
March 13, 2013
Dear Ms. Whitney and the other members of the Board:
We have been asked to comment on a matter currently before the Board of Education related to kindergarten, to which we have devoted many years of study.
We understand that you are considering increasing the amount of time devoted to academic instruction in your kindergartens in order to boost the chances that Westport’s five- and six-year-olds will meet the Common Core State Standards. Those standards were written by committees appointed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers; they were adopted by the state of Connecticut in 2010, soon after they were revealed to the public.
You should know that the committees that wrote the Common Core Standards for kindergarten and the early elementary grades did not include a single early childhood professional or classroom teacher. The exclusion of teachers and child development experts from the standards writing process produced a document that is fundamentally flawed. Grave objections to the standards that were raised by hundreds of concerned early childhood professionals were ignored.
Efforts to increase the time devoted to academics in order to meet these kindergarten standards may raise children’s scores on standardized tests in the short term. But they are likely to undermine the deeper, more important aspects of learning that cannot be reduced to numbers, as well as children’s love of learning and their long-term chances of success in school and in life.
These standards conflict with almost everything we know about learning in early childhood. Adhering to them leads to didactic teaching and testing of literacy and math skills that is both ineffective and harmful to young learners. It tends to crowd out crucial areas of children’s learning, including active, hands-on exploration and development of social, emotional, problem-solving, and self-regulation skills.
There is little evidence that standards for young children lead to later success. Many countries with top-performing high-school students provide rich play-based, active learning experiences—not standardized instruction—until age six or seven.
We urge you to reject any effort to change your kindergartens based on a mistaken belief in the value of the extremely flawed Common Core State Standards for kindergarten.
Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education
Founding Partner, Alliance for Childhood
Former editor, Harvard Education Letter
Ms. Carlsson-Paige also said this: “One of the most important ways we can help children build an understanding of concepts we want them to learn in school is to provide them with long blocks of time that allow them to get deeply engrossed in play.” Her focus as well as Mr. Miller’s Alliance for Childhood is about the lack of play in kindergarten not full day per se. Play is disappearing from kindergarten because the schedule doe not allow enough time in Westport. Nowhere in the Alliance’s article, “Crisis in the Kindergarten” is there a reference to the length of day. In fact both Ms. Carlsson-Paige and Mr. Miller mention increased scripted play that comes from television viewing which occurs more likely during time at home rather than school. It appears that whoever contacted them, has misled them about the proposal before the Board of Ed. The energy of those opposed to bringing Westport kindergarten in line with our peer districts is better spent on advocating for more time for play and appropriately implementing the common core in kindergarten.
Exactly. Many of us in favor of keeping the schedule as is have taken that position due to the makeup of the proposed schedule. 240 minutes of school time are being added and 225 instructional minutes are being added. If the proposed schedule included an increase in choice time and recess each day, which is what kids this age need most, I would be in favor of it. We ARE first and foremost advocating for a more play-based kindergarten. When administrators presented their curriculum on March 4, it became clear than play is not a high priority and engaging kids doesn’t seem to be either. The new Core Standards curriculum includes 50/50 fiction to informational text in K, with this example of how to assess K students: rather than have them write a fun story, they will be asked to read some information about plants and then write about what they learned. Library is being integrated into the classroom. No more going to the library and indulging in the joy of picking whatever book you want. Now the library experience must be directly tied to the curriculum (and is not even in the schedule; it’s up to the teacher when kids will get to go to the library). When 3 longs days were implemented, the schedule included 2 choice times and a recess (or two recesses and a choice time) during each long day. In my kids’ elementary school, somehow one of those free-play sessions disappeared from the schedule. Unfortunately, we can’t trust our schools to avoid the trend toward teaching to the test and cramming more academics into our K kids’ schedules. Also alarming to me is the plan to reduce literature in language arts in high school to 30% (and increase informational text to 70%). I’ve lost faith in our educators here, so if I can guarantee Monday and Friday afternoons are free-play time for my 5-year-old and the schools can’t, I want the schedule kept as is.
(Btw, the only research I’ve seen on full-day K being beneficial is in low-income areas; and as another commenter said, our 30-hour schedule pretty much is a full-day schedule anyway.)
I do wonder why anyone would want to implement the common core curriculum? Do you know what it is and why it is better than what presently exists? Do you know how our youngest students will benefit? I am concerned that folks talk about the Common Core as if it was something known, when, in fact, we know nothing about it, it has been tested far less than the next car you plan on buying, it comes with no safety instructions, and the amount of consideration for whether or not our students should be subjected to the common core pedagogy has been far less rigorous than the focus you will put into planning your next big social gathering or the upgrades to your house. Just because “everyone ” is embracing it does not make that the right thing to do.
Perhaps you can check with the 45 states that adopted the standards. You could also try to work with the school system instead of posturing in a way that implies that you know better than the professional educators.
As a professional educator it is my job to think about and learn about this issue. I spend many hours each week researching and thinking about it, talking to the authors of the common core, etc.
However, I am curious to know, why did you choose to attack me? I was just asking a question, and stating my view. What is the good of the attack and how will it promote understanding and open dialogue?
As my mother infuriatingly asked us when we were kids: “Just because your friends are jumping off the Empire State Building, will you do it?”
Infuriating, for sure! My suggestion to check with the 45 states that have adopted the common core was not an “attack” but rather in response to your statement “I do wonder why anyone would want to implement the common core curriculum”. I also think that working with the system rather than against it at every chance, is preferable. Again, a suggestion, not an attack.
OK, so here is some additional information you might find interesting. http://dese.mo.gov/divimprove/assess/documents/asmt-sbac-ela-gr3-sample-items.pdf
Be sure to scroll down until you get to the essay This is a timed task the children have 70 minutes to do a writing task at the computer. The task is supposed to be for third grade students. If this was a three of five day assignment in a third grade classroom, with thoughtful time for editing, exploration, and discussion, it would be great but this is a 70 minute assessment. Among other developmental problems is the fact that third grade students are not developmentally adept at good keyboarding, the amount working memory functioning required for success probably exceeds the developmental norm….. Because this type of task is beyond the developmental level of most 8 year olds it means teachers will have to spend far more time teaching the skills, which will not easily be secured.
And let’s not forget that teacher evaluations are tightly tied to their student’s performance on this test. Whatever the BOE and Dr. Landon may say about how our curriculum already has all the rigor needed, with just a tweek here and there, I do not see how they connect the dots. Lastly, and what galls me the most is that the Common Core Standards and this test designed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have not been tested for validity. They/We do not have any idea if it actually assess what it is purported to assess (for example will weak performance on this assessment really measure complex writing skills, or typing skills, or working memory functioning, or note taking). This present generation of school-aged children are the pilot group. But at the same time they are the pilot group their performance, in many cities and states determines graduation, placement in advanced classes, and teacher effectiveness. That make no good sense to me. And, by the way, in communities where not every child has access to a computer in school this testing process may take as many as two months to complete, meaning for two months a school climate will be permeated with testing. Do you know if even right now EVERY Westport student in a given school can be working at a computer at one time? If not then that means that school which presently has a bit of time set aside each day for two weeks for testing will have to stretch that testing lock down over more days or more hours. I really would rather my child be in school learning and exploring meaningful skills and tasks rather than taking and preparing for testing, and I am very troubled that for our children to succeed on this test of dubious validity far too much time will be spent focused on what it takes to perform well on the test.
The common core standards were not written by educators: http://commoncorestandards.com/faq/who-wrote/
I admit to not understanding why the Common Core curriculum strikes such fear in some people. It is NOT a radical change from current teaching or testing. Evolutionary, not revolutionary. From what I can see, it adds a little bit of much-needed rigour to American schools. Here is a link to a site where you can link to several documents with information about the curriculum:
Second, CT decided to adopt the common core curriculum three years ago in 2010; the matter was decided a fairly long time ago. Rather than re-debate that fact and pretend it didn’t happen, can we please accept the reality that CT is a common core state and work together to make that a successful improvement to our kids’ schools?
Finally, I get the “if your friend jumped off a bridge would you” rebuttal to the argument that other states have signed onto the common core curriculum so therefore it must be good. But in this case, we need to remember that something very unusual has happened. 46 American states have agreed on an imporant issue. How often do the deep red, deep blue and deep purple states of our country agree on something so broadly? Or agree on anything? Isn’t it likely that a curriculum that achieves such broad approval it worthwhile?
No, Jill. The consensus among educators is that full time kindergarten provides a superior experience for children.
The half-day vs. full day studies do not apply to Westport. The only 2 shortened days (Mondays and Fridays) are 70% of a full day and the rest are full days in Westport. A very unique schedule. Kindergarten is almost 30 hours already in Westport- the same as other full day kindergartens in other school districts.
Yes it is always been an interesting point about how many hours children in Westport already spend in K. As far as the researcher’s points I have to emphasize that as the curriculum is currently presented there are no long spans of time for play and there will not be . There will supposedly be more time for leisurely exploration of academic content/skills. As I have already said, playing a number/counting game with dice is not the play that these experts are referencing. As I have also said, it is just this point that I am concerned about. Not the length of the day, per se, but how the day is spent. Ask any kindergarten teacher who has been around since before the current K schedule and they will all tell you that the students are doing more academic work in a “leisurely” fashion, perhaps, but the students are not playing
They weren’t playing in the “old schedule” either. Only the most veteran teachers who had first choice on scheduling of specials were able to have a block of time for play. The vast majority of kindergarten teachers complained in closed-door meetings about the rushed and fragmented schedule. Encourage parents to spend their time and energy arguing for a play-based approach and pleading with parents to limit screen time on computers, ipads, iphones and television.
There are social ramifications to leaving school early. It is like putting a target on your child’s back.
Alternatively, it is a parent’s prerogative to sign a waiver such that a child does not even need to attend kindergarten at all. One might just skip kindergarten altogether, play all day, go to the library, read lots of books, visit nature museums, explore the countryside and the city, etc and then do after school activities with kids (swim lessons, play dates, clubs whatever),. It would be interesting to see how such children would fare. Does anyone think that children who had many rich opportunities for socializing, but missed formal schooling during kindergarten would be weaker high school students or less resourceful adults?
Also, if it is true that the majority of parents see full day five day K as a good thing, and the BOE is certain of that, why the conversation? Is it really just a few desperate hold-outs? What are the numbers and who took the poll?
Another question, how can it be that we are all so certain of our “facts” and be reporting different facts? Where are the data proclaiming full day K as superior? Who are those researchers? And who are those saying not necessarily? My reading is that it is, as has been stated, not the time so much as the process and content. If anyone knows how to influence the school system to make K (really K-2) play, process, and project based that would be great . It would give Kindergarten teachers a chance to really work on important self regulatory skills, social problem solving, skill in delaying gratification, exploration, vocabulary development and communication skills. All skills that would help children thrive for the remainder of their school experience. Kindergarten hasn’t looked like that in probably 30 years…. But now the intensity is troubling, thus the letter from Jill’s resources. The BOE has little control over what happens once the vote is in favor of full day or part days. Curriculum and instruction is up to educators and unfortunately, at the moment,administration educators are buying into the top down approach, pushing pedagogy that is best aimed at older children, into the primary grades. 13 years ago I asked the BOE and I would ask the same now: Where are the watchdogs, protecting young children from excessive academic structure and protecting access to play? It can’t be the parents because they are often deemed intrusive in such matters. ….
My “Exactly” comment above was in response to this one from Jill G!
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