All-Day Kindergarten: A World of Good

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We have partnered with Idaho Falls School District 91 to bring you this valuable information on early childhood development!

All-day kindergarten has become a hot topic among parents recently. It’s no secret that most have a strong opinion on whether or not they will be sending their child to kindergarten for a full day versus a half-day. I have a degree in child development and, at first, I felt that it wouldn’t be developmentally appropriate to have children in a classroom setting for that long when they are 5 years old. Also, isn’t it basically just to offer full-day childcare for working parents? However, the research brings some comfort to those of us that will be sending our children to kindergarten in the next few years.

Over the past several years, Idaho Falls School District 91 has noticed a decline in the number of students entering kindergarten ready to learn. Many children entering kindergarten are lacking in learning readiness skills, which include knowing their letters and colors. While statewide, 41% of kindergartners were at grade level on the fall Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI), the district was only at 31%.

District 91 currently offers all-day kindergarten programs at four of its elementary schools and they have had an opportunity to analyze how these programs have affected the students. Temple View Elementary School went from only 27% of its kindergarteners learning at a grade level on the fall 2020 IRI to 74% on the spring 2021 IRI. That is an incredible increase! All-day kindergarten appears to have been successful in closing those learning gaps. 

“Our experience shows all-day kindergarten helps prepare children to be successful in school,” said Superintendent Dr. Jim Shank.

“All-day kindergarten programs close learning gaps, and give children the academic, social and emotional foundation they need to be confident learners in elementary school.” 

I have a 4-year-old son and will be looking at kindergarten registration a year from now. It starts a new chapter in my motherhood journey that appears so much busier than our current life. The thought of sending him to school is so scary to me—let alone to an all-day program—but I am feeling more at ease after learning about the positives and research that is going into this program!

The decision to move to all-day kindergarten is really focused on setting children up with a strong foundation as they begin school.

District administrators, elementary school principals, and a committee of kindergarten teachers have recently been looking at how to make all-day kindergarten available throughout Idaho Falls School District 91. They have been successful in identifying space within their schools for all-day kindergarten, analyzing staffing and curriculum needs, and researching furniture and technology needs. There is so much that goes into making this a program that will be successful and run smoothly. The district will use general funds, K-3 literacy funds, special education funds, title funds, ESSER, and federal grants to make it available throughout the district.

The Idaho School Boards Association informs us that, “research shows kids who attend full-day kindergarten have better academic outcomes in first grade and show greater gains over the course of their kindergarten year than their counterparts in half-day programs.” They have also seen that there is a lot of support when it comes to full-day kindergarten programs. Over 68% of Idahoans support increasing funding to school districts to provide these programs. 

So, even if you decide to not send your child to all-day kindergarten, do you think they are ready? What are the things they need to know to thrive in kindergarten? District 91 has given us the skills they believe your child will need to help them be successful in kindergarten:

  • Recognize letters
  • Recognize numbers 1 to 10
  • Count from 1 to 10
  • Recognize colors like black, white, yellow, green, red, blue, orange, and purple
  • Recognize shapes like triangle, circle, square, hexagon, rectangle
  • Write their name

I still have time with my son to prepare him the best way I can for when he enters kindergarten, and having this checklist helps me know what I need to be focusing on with him over the next year.

I know many moms, like myself, find it difficult to think of sending our children out into the world where we no longer have full control over what they learn, how they learn, who they interact with, and what decisions they make. Deciding on public school, charter school, or homeschool is a personal matter, but one that I hope we all will spend time researching. All-day kindergarten may seem intimidating and overwhelming, but I can honestly say that after learning about the research that has gone into the decisions and implementation of this program, I feel better about it.

We all want our children to succeed in their academic journey and, even if it’s not for everyone, I believe all-day kindergarten can be so beneficial for so many children who need that support early on to be successful.

Kindergarten registration for the 2022-23 School Year is now underway in D91 and the district is pleased to offer all-day kindergarten to all students at all schools in the 2022-23 school year. Learn more and register your child at this link.

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