Area Schools Prepare For Full-Day Kindergarten

Chelsea Beckman has been a teacher at Bath Elementary School for six years, but as she gets ready for this school year, she faces some new challenges.

"We are going from a half-day kindergarten program to a full-day program," said Beckman. "I'm definitely nervous because this is going to be a brand new thing for me."

It will be new for Bath schools and other schools throughout the state who are moving to full-day kindergarten classes this year to fall in line with new state legislation.

The legislation states that in order to receive maximum kindergarten funding, schools must have a full-day kindergarten curriculum.

Bath Superintendent, Jake Huffman says his school district has looked at moving to full-days for a couple of years, but the changes in legislation sped up the process.

"The expectations of kindergartners today are a lot more than what they were ten, 15, even 20 years ago," said Huffman. "It's just a huge push academically to be where we need to have kids at."

That means completely reorganizing the kindergarten schedule at Bath Elementary, adding in lunch times and courses, like art, music and physical education.

"We also did some professional development prepping our teachers," said Huffman.

For Waverly Community Schools, which is also moving to full-days this year, it is a chance to plug in a new reading program they normally wouldn't have time for.

"[The new program] requires 120 minutes so we were concerned," said Shawn Talifarro, Principal of Colt Early Childhood Educational Center. "Once we realized we were moving to full-day kindergarten, we knew we would have ample time."

Some school districts, like St. Johns, have already started full-day kindergarten programs and say they have been very successful.

"It has been wonderful," said Kerry Beal, Principal of Oakview South Elementary School in St. Johns. "It actually frees up more time in first grade because our kindergartners have had a full year of experience having lunch and recess."

To help make the transition to full-day kindergarten a smooth one, Bath Elementary School sent out informational letters and also held a meet-and-greet so students could meet the teachers.


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