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.