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Is all day kindergarden too long - how do they cope?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
My dd is due to start kindergarten in the fall. 1 of my concerns is the long day: 6 1/2 hours of school plus a 20 minute bus ride each way. Isn't this too long for a 5 year old? Can anyone share how their kids handled this? The most she's had to deal with is 2 1/2 hour preschool and that took the whole school year to get used to. I have serious doubts that all day k is a good choice. Thanks.
post #2 of 17
I think it really depends on the child. My dd attends a private language-immersion school. She started full-time in the 3yo program to learn the language that she is now taught in. She loved it from day 1. Asked to go even on the weekends, sometimes. She is a very attached child and for those first few years was like glue to me when she was home, but happily separated to go to school... and has always loved school from the beginning. She still co-sleeps (at 8yo), but is not glued to me when she is home anymore. For her, she went from being with me 24/7 to going to school full-time, with a one-hour drive each way, and had absolutely no problem at all transitioning to that. There was really nothing to "cope" with because she loves school and loves being at home.

I'd say the only thing we had to "deal" with was her going to bed earlier. She's a natural night owl and likes to sleep in. She never protested about it, though.

That is *our* experience and you will get other posters telling you it was the exact opposite for them. It really, truly depends on the child.
post #3 of 17
My DD who had gone to full day Preschool/Daycare (2-3 x per week) was tired, but I don't think it was entirely the full day. A lot of it was the academics and just adjusting to a different environment. She definitely went to bed earlier and needed the rest. Honestly, I prefer full day over 1/2 day b/c I think (at least at our school), it's less pressure. They get more recess time, more time for specials, etc. The 1/2 day program has to cover the same academics as the full day program in 3 hours...they do a great job, but those kids work non-stop (and don't always get recess and rarely get specials).
post #4 of 17
My oldest son went to full day (7.5 hour) kindergarten for six weeks before we pulled him out to homeschool for the rest of the year. It was definitely too much for him. He has high sleep needs, even now in 1st grade is often tired and has trouble getting up even after 11.5 hours of sleep. He has the emotional maturity now at 7 to just say, "Man, I'm tired." but at 5.5 was a weepy mess every morning and every afternoon from exhaustion. He did not do preschool.
However my youngest son is starting all day K this fall and I have no doubts that he'll do fine. He doesn't need as much sleep, has been doing 2.5 hour preschool for 2 years, and is beyond ready for kindergarten. He'll be there 8-3 with us driving him to and from school.
The bottom line is you know your own kid. If you have serious doubts about all day K, you're probably right. Are there any half-day programs available?
post #5 of 17
I don't believe my ds was ready for full-day when this year started. He struggled with the 2 1/2 hr 3 day week of pre-school.

We spoke with the administration and arranged a half-day schedule for him initially. His teacher has been wonderfully flexible and little by little he felt comfortable enough to go longer. He now goes full-day and seems to like it very much.

He does get pretty tired and needs wind-down time after school but it's been ok.

I don't know if this is a possibility for you but this arrangement worked very well for us. Good luck!
post #6 of 17
I don't think there is any reason for full time kindergarten. I wouldn't do it unless I had to.

But, your question depends so much upon the personality and needs of the child.

It's too long for my kids and for most kids I know. But, some kids do great with it.
post #7 of 17
Originally Posted by amcal View Post
I don't think there is any reason for full time kindergarten. I wouldn't do it unless I had to.
Many districts and states do not give you the choice.

Here's my positive take on all day kindy:

Kindergarten is now really a 1st grade curriculum. Most schools now expect that each child be reading by the end of the year if not significantly sooner. We had half day kindergarten, which was a 1st grade curriculum crammed into 3 hours a day, which has never before been even expected of kids a year older. The consequence was that there was no time to break up the day. Now with full day, they are not adding to the expectations of the children, but giving them a slower pace to do it. They get twice as many recesses (more time to figure out the social picture), and twice as much art, music, and PE.

A lot of people find the first month or more of kindergarten tough. We solved it by moving bedtime forward more than an hour (DD did wrap around care, so was gone 9 hours a day). After 6 months or so, we were able to ease up a bit. My daughter thrived. Full day would have been even better.
post #8 of 17
I was worried about that too until my son actually went. He was tired at first. But it's not like they drill them all day long. They get a PE class this way and music class and more recess. And the kindergarten teacher has a special place for the kids to go if they need a break or a rest.
post #9 of 17
My now first grader did fine with it. He had the option for enrichment once a week at his preschool and having a 5 hour day gave me an idea of how he would do. I got him to bed at a reasonable hour and let him play at the playground or chill out at home after school, always with a snack and a drink right away. He made the transition rather well. My second son is starting this year and I'm not sure how he'll do. He still naps (whereas my first son quit napping at two years old) and has a totally different personality. He, too, is doing enrichment at his preschool once a week and seems to be doing okay. I'm also going to try and sign him up for a camp towards the end of summer to get him back into the mindset of being in a group and learning before school starts.
As others have said, there are plenty of extra things to do during full day kindergarten. Recess, gym, art, computers, library, music are all nice breaks from academics.
post #10 of 17
Both of my kids did full time K. DD is now 1st grade and DS is now 4th. But, both had experience with full day preschool beforehand (though only 3 days/week), so I don't know how much that contributed to the fact that this really wasn't that difficult for them.

Their school is 7 hours, plus we have a 30-45 minute commute each way, so yes, it was about as long as a school day gets. Plus 30+ minutes of homework each day.

They were definitely tired at the beginning of the year, but quickly adjusted to the routine. We did keep other activites to a minimum for the first few months and tried to keep the rest of their time as unscheduled and fleixible as possible so we had some "catch up" time. But by spring semester DS was perfectly able to handle full day school and little league baseball twice a week.

I do think a lot of it depends on the child and on the family as a whole. I really like what a full day gives the school the time to offer. I think there is more time for sports, art, music, even recess changes if the days are longer. I would rather have more hours at school and more opportunities rather than a real rush to get in all the basics and less flexibility.
post #11 of 17
Behavior wise, my son would have done better with half-day K. Ds just can't keep it together for a whole day and his behavior usually deteriorates after lunch time.
post #12 of 17
We only have half day and I wish it were full day. My kids were more than ready, even though they were the younger kids in the class.

Half day is a total waste IMO. The time there was ridiculously short, and when they got done unpacking, taking off outerwear and listening to announcements, it was practically time to start getting ready to leave.

They also got insane amounts of homework. We're in a very academic district, and they expect that kids are going to be reading, etc., by the end of K. Since they had so little time in school, they'd just send it all home.
post #13 of 17
My 5 1/2 year old DD does a full day at a Montessori charter school (8:40-2:00). Personally, I'm a huge fan of a full day in a Montessori class because they really need a 3 hour work period to "get in the zone". DD is in kindy, so their work period is 2 hours and two or three times this year I have come to pick her up at 2:00 and the teacher directs me to the library nook where she had fallen asleep. DD loves sleep. She has never had sleep issues and knows that when she is tired, she goes to bed. When she starts 1st grade it will be 8:30-3:00 and I believe they have a 3 hour work period. I can tell you that in the beginning of the year she would seriously fade right after lunch/recess and sometimes would "opt herself out" of the cultural lesson for the afternoon.

On the other hand, if she was not going to a Montessori school, I would probably have opted for a half day program for her. My 4 1/2 year old DD hasn't napped for about a year, so she would do great in a full day program (with energy left over!)

The only homework is to read with your child every night and practice sight words from time to time.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
I hadn't even considered the homework factor. What experience did you all have with home work in kindergarten? Also, What kind of curriculum is offered in kindergarten? Is k today more like 1st grade in years past?
post #15 of 17
Personally, I am in no way a fan of all day K, and completely happy that my ds will be in half day next year. For us it is about having that extra time to explore his interests, play freely, work on concepts more in depth and just ease into public education and see how it works for us (we have not ruled out homeschooling/private school at this point if we are not comfortable with how the school system works out for our ds.)

Now from a professional stand point (I actually taught K before my ds was born and had all day for four years) it works out fine for some students, especially those who were in daycare or whatnot all day before. For many students it is a bit too much. However, it did give me an opportunity to expand on concepts and do extra "project" work that was more difficult to fit in when I taught half day K. It has positives and negatives, obviously and it really depends on the child and family structure.

Bottom line though is that sometimes you don't have a choice when attending public school and you have to make the most of what you are offered. You never know how each child is going to handle it until you try it! Your child may surprise you, many kids do!
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by JSerene View Post
I hadn't even considered the homework factor. What experience did you all have with home work in kindergarten? Also, What kind of curriculum is offered in kindergarten? Is k today more like 1st grade in years past?
The wonderful K teacher our kids had was very experienced. She told us that what kids are expected to have mastered by the end of K today is at least as much as they were expected to have completed in first grade fifteen years ago, and I think that's correct, at least in our district.
post #17 of 17
My dd goes to full day K (7 hours), plus she has a 1 hr 15 min bus ride each way. She looks pooped when she gets off the bus at the end of the day, but she perks up once she has a chance to play and unwind. When I help out at her classroom, she is pretty happy and energetic, even on the days that I help out near the end of the school day. So I don't think the full day of school is as draining as the long bus ride. What we have had to sacrifice is after school sports activities because otherwise, we would never be able to have a family dinner together at home. We do our non-school activities during the weekend.

Granted, she has been in full-time daycare since she was a baby, so her issues are different from your issues.
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