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Kindergarten Enrichment Needed

'We have to move forward, prepare and be excited.'

Huntington resident Bianca Beck writes about the switch to half-day kindergarten.

The risk of losing full-day kindergarten in the Huntington School District has been all consuming to me the last 3 months.

I don’t pretend that I look at this subject without partiality. I have a kindergartner and my youngest child starts kindergarten this fall. As I’m “knee deep” in this stage of my family’s life, I am experiencing how crucial it is. I’m not looking back and I’m not looking into my future. This is my present.

Any pre-conceived plans that I may have had for the 2011/2012 school year are out the window with the adopted budget. But “when life hands you lemons make lemonade."

I pleaded my hardest for the district to retain full-day kindergarten. Yes… this is a very difficult budget year we have been dealt. Leaving the BOE meeting when the budget was adopted my fight was all drained. We have to move forward, prepare and be excited for our children’s monumental step this September – entering school.

The way our schools work is that our children enter a grade ready to tackle the challenges of the year ahead. At year’s end they have learnt, grown and are again ready to tackle the challenges of the next year of school.

Kindergarten is different. Children enter with a variety of educational and social experiences. In this critical year our children are prepared for learning. They learn the alphabet,  count and write to 120. They start reading and mathematics. They learn how to behave in a school environment.

How can 2 ½ hours a day prepare them for Grade 1? The duration of the day alone means that Grade 1 will be an incredible shock at the precise time our kids are deciding how they like school – a decision they will carry the next 12 years and beyond.

I want my youngest son to enter Grade 1 prepared for the workload and the intensity of the day. My first priority is kindergarten enrichment.

My youngest is in an excellent 4 hour per 5 day a week universal pre-K program. Heading into mainstream schools for kindergarten he will go from 4 hours to 2 ½ hours a day. The curriculum will be more intense in kindergarten. But at the end of that 2 ½ hour school day he will want more.

I need to find an enrichment program that the school can bus him to and one that offers not only playtime but academic enrichment. Many facilities have no K enrichment programs as it has not been required by the community before. I commend these facilities for scrambling to put something together for September.

The transportation office has advised me that it will only bus children to licensed facilities in my school's busing routes. If this is true then I won’t have all the enrichment programs in my community available to my family. Huntington should do right by its community and support more kindergarten enrichment programs, wherever they are in our district, and offer all children busing to all facilities.

Ilene Fucci May 15, 2011 at 10:20 AM
Huntington Jewish Center will be starting a Kindergarten Enrichment program for September. It is being started as a result of our district going to half day. HJC offers a wonderful nursery school and I would guess that this enrichment will be terrific. Susie Meisler is the director of the nursery school and everything she does is great.
KaryD May 15, 2011 at 11:43 AM
The point is there is not enough money in the district. They cannot afford to bus students for enrichment programs. Work with your children on the alphabet, counting and reading together on the weekends. Take them to the parks, enroll them in sports. They will be fine. Parents have to start taking responsibility for some of the learning, especially in the early grades. They don't need to go to Kindergarten for counting and the alphabet.
Bianca Beck May 15, 2011 at 12:20 PM
KaryD - I completely agree that parents have to be pro-active in their children's education. For me the requirement for enrichment is two-fold. I think my son will be bored after 2.5 hours of school and will want more. I could find programs to take him to but there is the problem for working parents. Parents who need some program on the other side of the school day. The community is lacking in these and I know many facilities are setting them up. But how are parents going to get them to these programs if they work? I am concerned that the number of placements in these facilities will not be ample and that only ones in my school bus route will be available to me.
JSC May 15, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Do you know if "only busing within one's school bus routes" is one of the parameters that Jay Finello has recently set up? I heard that he was going to be setting up the qualifications for allowing parents to sign up for busing since it was after the April 1 cut-off date. I'd check back with transportation again and ask, or better yet, call Finello's office. Parents are running around uninformed (not their fault) and confused about what is going on!
Bianca Beck May 15, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Hi JSC - I did speak with the transportation office this week. My information is from them. I do hope they take another look at the busing options. My concern is how working parents are going to make the 1/2 day K work since there are very few options for the other side of the school day and if busing isn't available it adds another level of complexity. Things are constantly changing at this point so I will be checking back frequently with the transportation office and the facilities that are establishing programs for K enrichment.
Debra Patane May 16, 2011 at 12:45 AM
St Patrick's in Huntington offers full day Kindergarten, and although you'll be paying for it, it can be worth piece of mind : knowing your child is at one place and not having to transition to two different places ( the bus routing makes me nervous- this year they were a mess at the beginning of school- does anyone remember that??) Something to consider.....
Toniann Mangan May 16, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Are you concerned withyour child's eduction or is this a childcare issue? School districts are not childcare. Kindergarten is not a mandated program, so I think it is commendable that they are keeping a 1/2 day program. I agree with the above post, if your issue is childcare it would probably be a wise choice to enroll your child in a full day program elsewhere. It would also be more cost efficient than to have sitter for the 2nd half of the day.
Michele May 16, 2011 at 01:41 PM
St. Patrick's school day ends at about 1:30!!! That is practically the same thing as a half day for working parents. Never mind the fact that the school does not have the same standards for education as NYS public schools do. While I am not happy about the half day kindergarten option, it is only for 1 year. I know that Kindercare is in the Flower Hill bus route and they have a Kindergarten program for anyone living in that area. They also have a before & after care program for older children. It is a great place. My kids will be there in September.
Debra Patane May 16, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Michele, St. Patrick's day ends at about 2 pm and they also offer afterschool enrichment at the school. Parents can pick up their children at whatever time suits their schedule. On the issue of NYS state standards, it must adhere to all the same standards and testing as does the public schools- it is an accredited school by the NYS state standards- check out their website for yourself. I am just offering a solution-if only for a short time- for those who may want to consider a full day with afterschool care if needed instead of the kids getting schlepped around
Michele May 16, 2011 at 04:58 PM
Debra - I don't have to check out the website for myself, I had a child who attended there a few years back. The difference in the amount of rigor between St. Pat's and Flower Hill was astounding. They are not being challenged to the same degree in Catholic school. Fact is that for elementary schools, most catholic schools are not as rigorous. Some Catholic HS are different (Chaminade comes to mind) and extremely challenging so that is a different story. I am not trying to bash the catholic schools, but as an educator myself and as a parent who sent 1 child to St. Pat's, I speak from personal experience.
DCG May 17, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Noah's Ark in Centerport has an established 1/2 day Kindergarten Enrichment program. They are working with the district and exploring options to provide busing. Noah's Ark is having a Kindergarten Open House this Saturday, May 21 from 11 - 2. For more information, check out their website at www.noahsarkcenterport.com or call 427-4504.
Stephani June 01, 2011 at 04:45 PM
West Hills Montessori has begun enrollment for their 1/2 Day Kindergarten Enrichment Program. My son currently attends West Hills Montessori and it's an amazing program. The Enrichment Program will be from 9-12 and 12-3 AND they have a before an after care program for working parents (up until 6pm!) Additionally, it's located on thebeautiful 18 acre property of West Hills Day Camp - so the children have access to multiple playgrounds, fields and other outdoor activities. The 1/2 day program will include music, science, art and computers! Here's the number for anyone interested (631) 427-6700 or info@westhillsmontessori.org

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