the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, Ridgewood now joins the great debate ;Full-day vs Half-day Kindergarten. Lets face it in the Village we have many parents who seem very pro-full day because it saves money on day care . We also have another group that believes it better prepares children to acquire basic skills for learning . Still others like the teachers union see it as job producing and more yet want to give their kids a leg up on global competition.
The detractors feel its nothing more than additional baby sitting ,that the results do not really justify the extra time ; that kids need time to be kids, and parents should act like parents . Some feel that too much control is given to the schools and that one sided points of views will be pushed even further stunting creativity and intellectual curiosity .
But first lets take a look at the history ,Kindergarten dates all the way back to the 1800s when it began as a full-day program.Half-day Kindergarten actually began during WWII when schools across the country began to cut their kindergarten classes back to a half-day in order to free up additional labor.
Full-day kindergarten reappeared in the 1960s as an intervention to help disadvantaged children catch up to their peers through additional schooling. But, now it has gained popularity among middle class two income families. Over the past 30 years, where the percentage of children in full-day programs has grown from 10% to just over half of U.S. kindergartners.
The rationale for full-day kindergarten has been and continues to be that the more time children spend in school, the more they will learn. Detractors however have warned that an early emphasis on academic learning, at the expense of play time, could harm children emotionally and academically in the long run.
Lets face it we constantly hear how “Millennials ” are the most over educated and under performing generation. Spending there days watching reality TV ,playing video games and questioning why they have to work at all. They are buried under a pile of student loans with degrees in under water basket weaving .So it would seem at lest for Millennials” more time in school has not worked at all.
This all brings us back to the quality over quantity argument and clearly for many “Millennials ” its been as the saying goes ;garbage in ,garbage out.
While many studies show academic gains for full day Kindergarten can be fleeting , others show significant gains for disadvantaged children particularly ,’English is a second language types .
A new study from Chloe R. Gibbs at the University of Virginia holds some preliminary good news for proponents of full-day kindergarten.Though the implications of the study won’t be clear until the students studied are much older. The Gibbs study showed most notably, the advantage for Hispanic full-day students over other Hispanic kindergartners is nearly twice that seen in the overall sample.
Other studies have suggested that children in full-day programs scored higher in reading and math than their half-day counterparts at the end of kindergarten, those gains had evaporated by the end of 1st grade, the researcher reports. This was true for both girls and boys and black and Hispanic children. In fact, Hispanic children who attended full-day kindergarten programs performed worse at the end of 1st grade than children who attended half-day kindergarten.
An interesting note in the Gibbs study and this very much applies to Ridgewood ; Because full-day kindergarten classes have long been used as a way to give high-need students an extra boost, full-day students have historically been comparatively disadvantaged. As a result, any difference in the groups’ outcomes may be due to full-day kindergarten or may be caused by other differences in their lives outside the classroom — such as disparities in access to learning opportunities and academic support at home — typically associated with living in poverty.
Which gets to the heart of our point in a Village like Ridgewood with a huge diversity of opportunities for learning ,friends, doing ,playing and experiencing . Our fear is the full-day kindergarten will actually decrease the diversity of opportunities for some people and again that one sided points of views will be pushed even further stunting creativity and intellectual curiosity .
We have no way of knowing, unfortunately only time will tell , but as many promoters of school budgets in that past have issued the battle cry ; “do it fir da kidz”. So what ever you decide on November 8th the decision should be should be made based on whats best for your kids or your grand childern. You know your kids better than anyone and they probably need you more than you think .