Archive for Thursday, March 24, 2005

Plans made for all-day kindergarten

March 24, 2005

By the 2006-2007 school year, kindergarten students in Eudora will no longer go to school for only half a day, according to Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza.

USD 491 administrators and the Board of Education have begun planning for all-day kindergarten classes to begin in the fall of 2006.

Kobza said that because of state standards the district is required to meet, all-day kindergarten was a necessity.

"When we look at the content that we need to teach, it just can't be accomplished in half-day kindergarten," he said.

That content includes algebraic and geometric equations on a more advanced level than most parents would remember learning in kindergarten.

But Kobza said there were benefits to the program besides helping to meet government education standards. He said children in a kindergarten age group would benefit from the increased exposure to learning in a structured environment.

"Students at that age are sponges," Kobza said. "The more time we have to expose them to a systematic form of knowledge, the better off they'll be."

He said working parents could also see all-day kindergarten as an advantage because, for many families, it would mean not having to have a kindergartner in daycare for a half-day.

Although the all-day kindergarten program could save some parents childcare money, it could have the opposite affect on the district. In full-time enrollment numbers, which are used to determine each school district's yearly budget, a kindergarten student is counted as only one-half of a full-time enrolled student. Kobza said that even if a district chooses to have all-day kindergarten the formula does not change, and he didn't expect that it would in the near future.

Another step USD 491 has taken to better prepare its youngest students for school is the creation of a brochure to educate parents on what their children should know before they start kindergarten.

The information is divided into sections including pre-academics, social skills, adaptive skills, language skills and motor skills.

The pre-academic guidelines say that a student should know his name, address, phone number and birthday. He should be able to write his name and recognize some upper and lowercase letters, colors, shapes and numbers. A child should be able to count to 20 and recite the alphabet. A student should also understand positional concepts such as up, down, top and bottom.

Socially, a new kindergarten student should be able to have appropriate social interactions including being able to share and take turns.

Some of the requested adaptive skills the district would like all new students to have are to be able to use the restroom independently, wash and dry hands, zip up a coat and tie shoes.

According to the pamphlet, a kindergarten student should have the language skills to use sentences of at least five words, and have an understanding of past, present and future tenses. A student should be able to use personal pronouns such as I, he, she, they and we.

Motor skills that should be learned before kindergarten enrollment include how to hold a pencil, use scissors and string beads. A student should be able to cut, paste and color, and should be able to skip and gallop for a short distance.

The brochure is titled "Pre-Kindergarten Expectations." It is available for parents to pick up at Nottingham Elementary, local daycare centers and the Eudora USD 491 School District Office.

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