Half day or full day Kindy - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-30-2010, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been going back and forth about this decision for my DD2, who will be going to K in Fall 2011. I need to register her next month for kindy. She turns 5 in May, is a chatterbox and extrovert (I am somewhat of an introvert and get tired when I need to interact all day). In our district, half day kindergarten (2.5 hrs 4 days a week, and just under 2 hrs one day a week!) is fully funded, and parents who enroll their child in full-day K must pay additional tution. Yes, this is public school. (it's about $3300 for the year).


Here is my issue: I have been a SAHM since DD2 was born. DD1 will be in 3rd grade next year. I am feeling guilty about wanting to send DD2 to school for the full day, when I don't *need* to. But to be honest, I am tired! I want some time to myself (6 hours sounds heavenly) but I feel selfish thinking this way. Plus...I know (from half day K experience with DD1) that many kids in half day K do lots of play dates to fill their afternoon time. I feel like my afternoons will be spent either driving DD2 to afternoon activities or hosting other kids at my house, neither of which sound very appealing to me!! I'm sorry, am I just being selfish? Financially, we have been saving for this, so we can afford full day if we wanted to. The question is, do I want to? Any advice or BTDT?

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#2 of 8 Old 12-30-2010, 10:49 PM
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We've done it both ways though never had to pay for it. My eldest did half-day when she was in kindie. My DS had full-days because the district changed to that format the year he started. Whole days were actually much better for DS because it allowed kindie to more of what WE remember kindergarten being... lots of play time, songs, recesses, arts & crafts, ect. They had time to actually teach science and history because they had time. My DD's half day was straight reading, writing and math.


My only concern with your situation is that it's a fee based program on top of the regular day. This means the academics will still likely be crammed into the "free" portion of the day. I worry than the fee based part will be mostly daycare. I'd want to have specifics as to what exactly they do during that part of the day before deciding.

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#3 of 8 Old 12-31-2010, 06:09 AM
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My kids did half day K, and if it were up to me, they'd have done full day, but our district doesn't offer it, one of the very few in the area that doesn't.  They were completely ready for full day K, even though they were some of the youngest kids in the class.  Half days were a waste.  By the time they got do school and got unpacked, it was almost time to go home.


We are in a very academic district.  Essentially, they try to cram in during the half day what other districts do in a full day.   So my kids got homework all the time, and were pretty much expected to be reading by the end of K.  We are both educators, and had no trouble teaching our kids how to read, but it was mostly us teaching them, not the school.  For other families, this is a problem.


It would be entirely worth the money to pay for full day to me.

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#4 of 8 Old 12-31-2010, 06:19 AM
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I didn't have an option, K was full day only here.  I was initially not thrilled because that's a LONG day for a 5 yo (7:50-2:40 here), but after a few weeks he was loving it so much that I warmed to the idea.



There were days he was tired, and we had to pull back on other things becasue of the long days, but overall he did really well and it wound up working out fine for us.



Now next year he'll be in 2nd and little sister will be in Kindy, and what am I going to do with myself with a quiet house from 8-2:30?  Oh, right.  Do my WAHM job that I usually struggle to do with kids around, but in SILENCE!  lol.gif



I can't believe you have to pay for a public school program. 



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#5 of 8 Old 12-31-2010, 09:42 AM
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They had the same thing when we were living in Colo for a year when my son was in kindy. It was either half day or pay $300 a month for full day. We couldn't afford the $300 and I also had a 1 yo then so it wasn't like I was going to get any type of break by having my kindergartener gone a few extra hours so he went half day afternoons.

Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

My only concern with your situation is that it's a fee based program on top of the regular day. This means the academics will still likely be crammed into the "free" portion of the day. I worry than the fee based part will be mostly daycare. I'd want to have specifics as to what exactly they do during that part of the day before deciding.


Actually, what happened at DS's school was that the half day teacher decided she was going to make sure her kids had the same achievement as the full day kids. There was one teacher who taught the morning and afternoon classes and two classes of full day. So while the full day kids got recess and had time for art, etc. the half day kids were getting everything crammed into a couple hours and not getting any recess. I think DS went from 12:45 to 3:15 and that still is pretty long to go with no break for 5 yo.


My friend from there who had a son in the morning class the same year as my son sent her younger son to the all day program and they both liked it. We moved back home and my youngest went all day last year and he did fine too. (He also turned 5 the fall before K, just like your DD will.) So I'd say if you can afford it, do all day. It sounds like your daughter would be fine with it. 

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#6 of 8 Old 12-31-2010, 10:32 AM
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I did full day kindergarten for both of my children.  I started out with half day, and then moved to full day with my first child, because she wanted to stay.  She was in a private school, however, because the kindergarten option for public school was 2.5 hours, but the half day option for the private kindergarten was from 9am - 1pm which seemed more reasonable to me.  The kids ate lunch and then had recess then transitioned into quiet time, so you could pretty much come and get them anytime after 12.  Full day kindergarten ended at 3, but basically in this school you could drop them off as early as 7 and pick them up as late as 6 because before school care was covered in the halfday option, and before and after school care was covered in the full day option.  Both my daughters started asking to stay after 3, because that was when all the fun stuff happened.  They got different teachers and they did more things like games and crafts, and there was more time just playing outside.


If you are counting on the 2.5 hours to get things done, it's easy for that time just to fly by, so if you have to run errands, be ready to go as soon as the kids get to school.  The benefit of it is that you won't have to pack a lunch everyday for the kindergartner. :D  If you volunteer in the classroom, you won't have a lot of time to get much done, and in our school system, if there is early release or a late start, the class time gets cut down even more, so your child might only be going for an hour and a half.  I think it really depends on what your child will get out of it.  I don't think there will be a lot of time for fun and socializing in a 2.5 hour program--it seems like there is a lot more free play time in longer programs.  So I think it just depends on what your child wants out of this interaction time.  With my kids, it was all the "non-academic" time that they enjoyed, and if they just weren't in the mood to go to school one day for some reason, or I wanted to do things with them, I'd keep them home.

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#7 of 8 Old 12-31-2010, 11:21 AM
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Full day may help cut out the tough transition from K to 1st.  If she doesn't do well in full day after a few weeks you can also probably also switch her to the half day class.

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#8 of 8 Old 01-01-2011, 07:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, this is all great insight and advice. I think I need to look at what is best for each of us, rather than feeling guilty about considering sending her to all-day K. I know she will really enjoy all the non-academic, fun things about K, and I'm not really sure she would get all that much of those activities in half-day. From what I observed with DD1, who went to half day K, they really do try to cram all the reading and writing into a short period of time, and it really didn't seem like they got to play much at all. I've noticed that one of the full day K classrooms even has art easels! (but sadly, no blocks or housekeeping/dress-up area like back in the day). I also think DD2 would love the extra PE, music and recesses that all-day K has. She is the kind of kid that would enjoy bringing lunch to school. She really is an active, chatty little person and while I think she will be tired making the transition to full-day, she would adjust in time. Heck, her preschool this year is 2.5 hours, 4 days a week.  Half day K would only be an additional 2 hours a week from this year's schedule. 


I think you all have given great examples of what has worked for your kids, and have helped me feel less guilty about putting her in school for the full day. There is the issue of what is best for DD2 (who would probably be just fine in either option) and what is best for me (who probably would be better with full day).  I do plan on volunteering in both kids classrooms (we do a co-op preschool now and I am there once a week, as well as once a week in my 2nd grader's classroom). And yes, I would like to have some time for quiet in my own home, for projects that I can get done without feeling constrained by the 2.5 hours (when I add in time to drive to school for pick up, it ends up being only 2 hours 15 minutes for me). I'd love to be able to go to a yoga class, join the Y, or just be home in the silence, as a PP mentioned.


And yes, I suppose we can try full day and move to half day if it's not working, assuming there is room in the half day class. (also, assuming there will be room in a full day class - some years there is a lottery for the full days spots!) 

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