Written by Morgan Stein
Kindergarten classes in the Sulphur Springs School District, Castaic Union School District, and Saugus Union School Districts are making the change from the standard half day, called transitional kindergarten, to the full day of class.
The Sulphur Springs District made this change two years ago, and now only offers full day kindergarten. The Castaic District now also only offers full day kindergarten, while the Saugus District still offers both options. The Newhall School District will be offering a full day kindergarten session at one of their schools, Wiley Canyon starting this year.
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District administrators are optimistic about the transition
“I think it’s important to recognize the importance of children developing their vocabularies, learning how to use words in context as well as increasing the number of words they know,” said Christine Hamlin, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at the Saugus District. “Full day kindergarten allows children to develop their vocabularies, not just in reading and writing activities, but in music and the arts as well. It’s a much more well-rounded program.”
However, some teachers have mixed feelings about the adoption of the full day.
“I actually think the kids enjoy the full day. We do fun activities in the afternoon. The kids do very well. It’s also great for second language learners to be exposed to English all day,” said Rio Vista kindergarten teacher Kathy De Chellis. “But we used to have a teaching partner you would share the room with, and we would help each others’ classes. With the full day, you lose the extra adult in the room.”
Joyce Carson, a retired kindergarten teacher from Sulphur Springs Elementary School, remains cautiously optimistic.
“Children are like sponges; they are capable of learning so much,” said Carson. “Kindergarten is a great time for enrichment, as long as there is a balance of academics with social skills, arts, music, and movement. But kindergarten shouldn’t be turned into a giant daycare. There still need to be standards. It can work if it’s done right.”