Recently, there have been a few articles regarding the full funding of Kindergarten in the state of Arizona, as seen here and here. Currently the state funds Kindergarten for half a day, while some districts find ways to fund the other half. Some of these funding structures include charging parents tuition for the second half or using Title I funds to cover costs.
As I read through various stances on the issue, I found myself agreeing with the importance of funding full day Kindergarten, what I like to call “full funding of the foundation”. Kindergarten is often the foundation for many students as they begin their educational journey. As I reflect on my own class make up, less than half have any prior preschool/prek learning experiences. A full day of Kindergarten is a chance for most students to learn about their own social emotional needs, how to problem solve, how to engage with others & how to persevere & explore while learning new content.
Now to air all biases, I have dedicated my career, the last 7 of 8 years to teaching Kindergarten. Teaching primary is my passion, seeing the growth students achieve as they explore and own their own learning excites me. Kindergarten is such a crucial experience in a child’s educational journey, an experience that all children should have, regardless of a family’s ability to pay tuition or by virtue of the school you are enrolled in.
To shed some light on the experience of full day Kindergarten, I turned to the experts, my students. Their responses are below:
“Well, if I didn’t go to school for the whole day, I don’t know if I would be an artist!” -K
This child was referencing the art class that the students attend once a week for 45 minutes, something not easily feasible in a half day structure.
“Learning how to read has been fun, now I can read and write stories!” – K
“Problem solving journals are my favorite! If we went to school for half of the day, would we have time to do that?” -D
“I have fun with our science, like using our 5 senses, & watching Pumpkin Jack change.” – S
This child was referencing our “rotten science”, seeing what happens to our class Jack- O-Lantern over time.
“Well, we learn all day long, I am not sure learning a half a day long would be much fun!” -M
“I get to make up games with what I learn, like sight word tic tac toe. I can practice sight words and have fun!” -T
“I really like “book day” (library) Mrs. M reads us a book and I try to find books we have read in class!” -J
As conversations around full day funding of Kindergarten are brought to the table, it’s tremendously important that stakeholders speak to the importance of the foundation Kindergarten provides.
As students begin to work through college and career ready standards, learning to read, expressing themselves through writing and speech, and demonstrating fluency and flexibility with numbers, it’s important to be the voice for those students.
In my experience, when it comes to learning and growth, students are both capable and eager to do so, are we doing them a disservice by only providing, a half day to accomplish this?
As I see it, this shouldn’t be a conversation of WHY should we fully fund Kindergarten, rather WHEN will we start.
For more information & infographics about the fully funding Kindergarten and how we compare to other states, check out the resource found here!