half day kindergarten..letter home today..what can i do? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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my daughter is 1 of 4 half day kids mixed into the full day kids.  there weren't enough half day kids for a whole class.  each day the kids have a 'special'. which is computers, art, music, library, and gym, 1each day.  my dd came home from school today with a letter saying that the teacher will pull the half day kids from their special in order to give them math time that they don't get because they leave early.  i really dont want to put her full day.  she is having a hard time with adjusting but just loves her specials.  she came home so excited that she got to show some of the kids how to use the mouse on the computer.  i spoke with the principal who said he would talk to the teacher.  where can i find out if i have any grounds to fight this?  any advice?

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#2 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 10:51 AM
 
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If your DD is making progress with math and (or) you aren't concerned about math, then I'd simply speak to the teacher directly and request that she continue to participate in the specials. If she does need the math instruction but you don't want to enrol her full time, then I'd suggest that it's something you'll work on with her at home or consider tutoring.   

 

I'm wondering why you didn't speak with the teacher directly as a first step. It's usually better for the parent-teacher relationship, rather than going over his/her head to the principal. Is there a reason why you think this is something you need to "fight" rather than find a path to achieve everyone's goals? There's a lot of pressure on the teacher to make sure all of his/her students meet curriculum standards. So it's not surprising he/she is focused on the basics - reading, writing and math - when trying to manage limited time with a student. I completely understand that the specials are worthwhile and shouldn't be missed, but you may have to make it clear that you aren't concerned about her progress in math and let the teacher off the hook, so to speak. 

 

 

 

 

 
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#3 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 11:30 AM
 
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I would talk to the teacher and see if she can schedule better.

 

To be honest- that is an awkward set up. BUT that said, they should be able to schedule it for a 1./2 day program and do 'extras' in the afternoon. Extra reading, centers, etc

 

I would not want her pulled from specials. Somehow the teacher should be able to fit math when all kiddos are available.

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#4 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 11:59 AM
 
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I'm not sure how you could schedule a whole class (presumably one of several sections of K) so that they do all their "extras" in the afternoon.   In most schools I"m aware of, the specials need to be coordinated between all the sections, and often between all the grades, and sometimes across schools in the same district.  IT's not just a matter of the teacher scheduling events, its most likely dictated by the availability of resources.

 

For example, our elementary school has two gym teachers, one music teacher, one art teacher, one library teacher, one reading specialist, one ESOL teacher.   Some of the smaller schools in our district share their music and art teachers and librarians with another school.   It's not necessarily possible either to schedule specials only in the afternoon OR to keep the afternoon only for specials.   


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#5 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i went directly to the principal because this is not the first time she excluded the half day kids.  their class does a reward system for good behavior.   they get to fill up a marble jar and when its full they get a marble party as a reward.  she has the kids vote on what their reward should be and then has the 'marble party' at the end of the day.  so these kids are expected to participate in a reward/good behavior program but will never ever get the reward.  i feel like i'm getting nowhere with her.  its not extra help in math that she's offering.  she's teaching the math curriculum to the half days in the am while the rest are in specials and then the full day kids get math later on in the day.

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#6 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 12:25 PM
 
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I understand that it's frustrating but this program is clearly designed for full days and so your child will miss things. You have to consider all the logistics involved. If this is a typical elementary, you're looking at sharing facilities and resources with several other classrooms (I know our elementary had 22 classes to juggle. Art, computers, gym, library and music are things teacher's can have little scheduling control over. If it's been determined that the kindergarteners go to the library Tuesday morning, well, that's when they go. It's not so easy to move them especially since librarians are often part-time workers in elementary. Same with the gym or computer labs. I'm assuming art and music are taught by others as this teacher is available to do math with the half-days during this time. If this is the case, then the kindies get their specials when the specialists are available to teach it.

 

This isn't preschool and so math is going to be a priority. It's expected that they choose to pull your child from specials to do math. I totally understand the teacher wanting any rewards to come end of the day as refocusing them can be difficult.

 

I hate to say it but I think you just have to accept that your child will not get to do everything half-day. There just isn't time. You might be able to strike a compromise with the teacher where maybe your DD doesn't get pulled for math daily. Maybe she can go full-days once or twice a week. You may find she adapts better going full-day and part of her struggle adapting is having to leave before the others do. Are there any other kindie options in your area that offer half-day only?


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#7 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 01:14 PM
 
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I agree with whatsnextmom. It sounds like you're upset that your child isn't able to participate in everything, but she's not there as long as the other kids. If she's in a full-day program and is only there half-day, it is unreasonable to expect that the teacher is going to keep the afternoon activities completely separate from the morning activities. Also, bringing the principal in so early int he school year before you've really tried to work this out with the teacher is just not starting on a good foot. Teachers are legally required to cover certain curricula, and math is included in that. It's not about excluding the half-day kids, it's about having limited choice in what they can do during the short time she's there in school. There is only so much that you can expect a teacher to do to accommodate only 4 students out of the entire class.

Does she have to go half day? I don't know if it's a choice, we don't have different length kindergartens here like that. Is she ready to go full day? Are there other schooling options you could explore? Perhaps this program isn't right for her or you. From what you said, it seems that you had one expectation for kindergarten and then the plan changed when only 4 kids were half-day, so maybe if you're not happy with that change, other options need to be considered.
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#8 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 01:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by samanthasmom View Post

i went directly to the principal because this is not the first time she excluded the half day kids.  their class does a reward system for good behavior.   they get to fill up a marble jar and when its full they get a marble party as a reward.  she has the kids vote on what their reward should be and then has the 'marble party' at the end of the day.  so these kids are expected to participate in a reward/good behavior program but will never ever get the reward.  i feel like i'm getting nowhere with her.  its not extra help in math that she's offering.  she's teaching the math curriculum to the half days in the am while the rest are in specials and then the full day kids get math later on in the day.


Hm. Aside from scheduling challenges with the specialist teachers and other classes, there are the other full-time students to consider. One of the benefits of attending for a full day is that the heavier academics in the curriculum aren't all squished into a couple of hours. It sounds like the teacher is trying to spread out those subject throughout the day to spread the load a little, so she has math in the afternoons. Were there typically half-day and full-day students in the kindergarten in previous years? If this is a little unusual for her, the teacher may be having to change her previous daily routine. She'll have to adjust to different scheduling and considerations for the half-day students. It can be a learning process for her too. 

 

The reward program is problematic for the half-day students and I can understand that it should be adjusted so they can participate in the rewards at least some of the time. (If there must be a reward system - that's a whole other issue). When you spoke with the teacher about  that exclusion, how did she respond? Did she make a change? It will give you some idea of how flexible she is. 

 

I think, though, you'll have to accept that if your DD is only in class for half the time, she'll only have half the experiences that the other children have. Since she'll be expected to achieve grade standards in reading and math for entry into 1st grade the teacher has to focus on those subjects. Hopefully, you can work together with the teacher to find a way for your DD to enjoy some of the specials, but I suspect that if she isn't performing well in math, then ultimately the principal will support the teacher on this. 

 

 

 

 

 

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#9 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 01:47 PM
 
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It occurs to me that you could also try to get your DD to see that she's getting lots of specials, but just not while she is in school. When she's with you for the other half of the day, you can point out that she gets to use the computer at home, do arts and crafts, go to art galleries and museums, visit the library, the playground, the park, the farmer's market... wherever you go and however you fill those extra hours. 

 

I understand that it isn't exactly the same as doing these activities with her classmates, but doing them with you and her siblings(?? if she has any?) and spending family time together is fun and important too. Possibly her disappointment about specials at school will be relieved a little if she realizes how lucky she is to be spending half her days with family still. 

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#10 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 02:02 PM
 
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Was there a numbers issue with having a separate full day and half day kindy?  With declining enrollment, sometimes schools have to smoosh everyone together, which makes it tricky.  In our district, 1/2 day kindy does NOT get specialist time except for library.  (No PE or music--computers are integrated into the library curriculum though they don't really do anything in Kindy)  When there's been an issue with not being able to fill a full day OR a half day kindy class, they do schedule the specalists in the afternoon so they can get all their academic time in.  I'm suprised that this was not done for the class already--but if they're having an enrollment issue and part time specialists, then it's likely that this is the only way they get specialist time at all.

 

Most school districts and states will take a very dim view of keeping specialist time at the expense of academic instruction time.  It's too bad that the principal didn't bother to explain things to you and just did the pass the buck of "I'll talk to her."  The teacher couldn't have chosen to do that without the principal's consent in the first place (at least, not in our SD!)

 

Public schools are often full of compromise.  I doubt that anyone is going to allow your child to have less on the book hours of instructional time (often a number set and mandated by the state) so she can do things that are NOT considered core curriculum/basics.

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#11 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 03:08 PM
 
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I agree with whatsnextmom. It sounds like you're upset that your child isn't able to participate in everything, but she's not there as long as the other kids. If she's in a full-day program and is only there half-day, it is unreasonable to expect that the teacher is going to keep the afternoon activities completely separate from the morning activities...Teachers are legally required to cover certain curricula, and math is included in that. It's not about excluding the half-day kids, it's about having limited choice in what they can do during the short time she's there in school. There is only so much that you can expect a teacher to do to accommodate only 4 students out of the entire class.

 

That's my feeling. Also, she may not have had to plan for half-day students or a split before, and the combined class may have happened at the last minute.

 

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You may find she adapts better going full-day and part of her struggle adapting is having to leave before the others do.


I've read that this is often part of the adjustment problem with preschools when a student only goes 2-3 days a week/half-days/some half, some full days. It's taken dd about a month to adjust to the early mornings and full-day K, same as when ds was in K.

 


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#12 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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all good advice!  next time i'll start here. 

this half day/whole day thing was a shock to me. didn't know about it untill the day before school started.  the half day morning class was filled but not afternoon class.  so they called everyone to see if they wanted to swap to full day.  only a few of us said we wanted to stick with half day. 

 

i took some advice frm here and asked the teacher if my dd could do 2 days of specials and math the remainder of the days.  she could bring home her math work on the days she has specials.  then we could reevaluate if its working.  hope this can work.  i also liked the advice about pointing out the specials she gets after she leaves school.  like she doesn't get gym b/c we're going hiking instead.   this is all so new to me....how to deal with issues at a school.  i guess i shuld have not talked to the principal so soon. 

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#13 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 04:42 PM
 
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Most school districts and states will take a very dim view of keeping specialist time at the expense of academic instruction time.

 

This.

 

Our city has both half day (free) programs and full day (parents pay for the extra time) kindergarten programs and the half day programs don't do specials. At all. There isn't time. They cannot cover what they are mandated to by law if the kids are off in computers and library and all that. It's why many parents opt for the full day.

 

Our state law says how much time must be spent of core academic subjects and what all the K's are supposed to know by the end of the year. I know that if you lived here, you would either need to let go of the specials or enroll her for a full day.

 

 


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#14 of 39 Old 09-19-2011, 09:12 PM
 
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This.

 

Our city has both half day (free) programs and full day (parents pay for the extra time) kindergarten programs and the half day programs don't do specials. At all. There isn't time. They cannot cover what they are mandated to by law if the kids are off in computers and library and all that. It's why many parents opt for the full day.

 

Our state law says how much time must be spent of core academic subjects and what all the K's are supposed to know by the end of the year. I know that if you lived here, you would either need to let go of the specials or enroll her for a full day.

 

 

Our district is the same. If you child is enrolled in the half day program then they do academics the entire time. They simply don't have enough time for anything else. The full day kids do academics with "specials" punctuated throughout the time to give them break/refresh/refocus. Many people think that the full day is the better option because it gives the kids a more traditional kindergarten experience with learning of various types. Your teacher must teach the kids math and probably doesn't have a lot of flexibility when because the whole school or multiple classrooms are being served by the special teacher. And doing part-time specials and math at home probably will violate state law about the number of instruction minutes, FYI.



 

 

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#15 of 39 Old 09-20-2011, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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my dd came home today and said she was pulled from music with the rest of the half day kids and had to do math instead.  

i also found out the other k teacher who has a mix of half and whole day kids has no intension of pulling her students from specials and sends any work that the kids missed home to work on.

 

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#16 of 39 Old 09-20-2011, 11:49 AM
 
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I actually think it's a sign of a conscientious teacher that she's taking the time that she'd normally have for herself for planning, down time, etc. to teach math to the half-day kids. Elementary teachers usually use the time that their kids are in specials for other things, and she's not getting that in order to teach your child. You seem to be viewing her as the adversary when what she's doing isn't particularly convenient for her either. I honestly think that you have to accept that in choosing half days, you're choosing for your child to miss some things. It doesn't sound like the teacher is singling you guys out, but she's trying to figure out how to make sure everyone gets what he or she needs. Many parents (me included) would be the opposite. While we engage in the arts on our own time, I'd much prefer my kids get math instruction to music or art.


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#17 of 39 Old 09-20-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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The teacher is also likely to be held personally responsible at some level for the performance of her students on state tests at the end of the year.

 

Those results include all her students -- not just the full-day kids, but the half-day kids too.    

 

Perhaps she wants to take personal responsibilty for those results rather than leaving them in the hands of the parents?  She doesn't know anything about how seriously the parents will take the at-home work, or how prepared the parents are for the teaching of reading.

 

I've been to a lot of PTA meetings about how the early childhood reading programs work in our district.  There's a lot of very technical stuff that teachers look at, watch for, and make sure to cover.   The process of learning to read and language acquisition and learning to write have been intensively studied, and my childrens' teachers have given me amazing insights into what is going on with them, what they're working on, where they need support or practice, etc.    I see the practice sheets and writing exercises come home, or I see the books that the kids are working on, and I think "Oh, that's nice!"  But then the teacher explains that there is actually a pattern behind the practice sheet, one that I wasn't even aware of (and I come from a family of teachers, so I know a lot about this stuff).  

 

It's a lot more than "here, honey, read these words."  It's about realizing the child isn't recognizing the difference between two sound combinations, and giving them practice in hearing and reproducing and reading those combinations.   IT's about seeing that a child might be having tracking issues that are visual-motor integration concerns.   It's about all kinds of stuff that I honestly scoffed at -- until I saw it in action with my kids with their very good, very dedicated teachers.   

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#18 of 39 Old 09-21-2011, 07:27 AM
 
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i took some advice frm here and asked the teacher if my dd could do 2 days of specials and math the remainder of the days.  she could bring home her math work on the days she has specials.  then we could reevaluate if its working.  hope this can work.  


 

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my dd came home today and said she was pulled from music with the rest of the half day kids and had to do math instead.  

i also found out the other k teacher who has a mix of half and whole day kids has no intension of pulling her students from specials and sends any work that the kids missed home to work on.

 


It seemed like you had reached a good agreement about the specials and math. Did you, your dd and the teacher agree on which specials your dd would continue to join? Maybe the teacher thinks your dd can miss music if she's getting private music lessons or thinks your dd would rather continue with the computer sessions (in your OP, your dd was excited about the computers) or something similar, so she's trying to priortize which specials your dd attends. Maybe she was covering something new or difficult in math today and she thought your dd should stay for the lesson, rather than go to music. Continued communication is really important. 

 

For math, you might ask the teacher about what she is planning to cover over the next couple of weeks. If your dd is amenable, you can work ahead a little with her. When she attends class, she and the teacher will be more comfortable about her math and there will be less pressure on both of them. Hopefully, this kind of tactic will make it less likely she'll be pulled from the specials. 

 

If you really believe that your dd would do better in the other teacher's class, then consider speaking to her current teacher and the principal about a transfer. I would be very careful though, and make sure that the other teacher really is letting all of her half-day students attend specials and that she would do the same for your dd. Gossip can be notoriously misleading. If the other teacher has some bright students who have already learned the kindergarten math curriculum (very common since there is a pretty wide range in kindy students), then she may feel she doesn't need to do math with them instead of specials. She may have a different approach with your dd.

 

 

 

 

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#19 of 39 Old 09-21-2011, 05:19 PM
 
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Just wanted to say that these are some great discussion points here.  We're very new to school (just switching over from home schooling), and my son will be going to kindy next year in our small private school.  They offer half or whole days, and I was leaning towards 1/2.  But now that I've read this and had a little time to think, I believe maybe full would be better for him.  At the very least, it's given me a set of questions to go in with an open mind with.  Thanks!


 

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#20 of 39 Old 09-21-2011, 08:38 PM
 
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sounds like, what's unfortunate is that the half-day kids *know* they are being pulled from the fun stuff. it would have been nice for it to be less obvious.

that said, have you considered doing a week of "full days" with your daughter, just to be fully informed on what the experience would be like? it might be a better fit that you think.

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#21 of 39 Old 09-21-2011, 08:44 PM
 
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Interesting thread. They are in the processing of switching everyone to full days here which I am just not good with. I've been trying to decide whether we will force the 1/2 day issue (because it's supposed to be optional to go full days), put ds in full days or just keep him home altogether so I find it interesting to see how it is working for others.

 

I guess my approach would be more along the lines of why are you doing half days. If you simply want her to have the school experience & are not too concerned about what is covered during that time I would ask that she stay with the majority of the students for the time she is there & then cover any areas she might "miss" at home. If you really want the teacher to be ensuring she is covering all of the academic things they are covering in the full day program what your teacher is doing seems fair.


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#22 of 39 Old 09-21-2011, 10:44 PM
 
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Interesting thread. They are in the processing of switching everyone to full days here which I am just not good with. I've been trying to decide whether we will force the 1/2 day issue (because it's supposed to be optional to go full days), put ds in full days or just keep him home altogether so I find it interesting to see how it is working for others.


I can understand your concerns. I felt the same way when our district moved to full-day just before my DS started. He was an older 4 and I worried. However, it was a much better experience than my DD had in half-day at the same school. He had 3 recesses and a lunch. He did more art, lots of messy science experiments, learned about their community, participated in school assemblies, put on a class musical performance, were able to have play stations sprinkled in amoungst the work stations, ect. The whole day was more relaxed, more playful and more fun for DS. He didn't have any trouble at all with it and he had just don't 3 mornings a week of preschool the year prior.

 

Half day can be better for some but only when it's a program MEANT to be half-day. Kids really don't like to be the kid who always leaves early. They know they are missing stuff. They know the kids are playing together after they leave. They come in the morning and see the art projects on the wall that they weren't there for. You get complicated situations like this one where the school rightfully feels responsible for the academic content but parents want some of the fun the other kids are getting.

 

The great thing is, you can always try full-days and see how it goes. A month in your child is struggling, try half-days. If that doesn't work, bring him home. As long as you stay positive with your child, it all works out.

 

 

 


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#23 of 39 Old 09-21-2011, 11:51 PM
 
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btw mama - getting used to school - having issues the first month is very common till about second grade. the first month is a huge adjusting period. 

 

our city has only half days. full days while initially hard to get used to would have been much more funner for dd than half days. 


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#24 of 39 Old 09-22-2011, 06:31 AM
 
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Half day can be better for some but only when it's a program MEANT to be half-day. Kids really don't like to be the kid who always leaves early. They know they are missing stuff. They know the kids are playing together after they leave. They come in the morning and see the art projects on the wall that they weren't there for. You get complicated situations like this one where the school rightfully feels responsible for the academic content but parents want some of the fun the other kids are getting.

 

The great thing is, you can always try full-days and see how it goes. A month in your child is struggling, try half-days. If that doesn't work, bring him home. As long as you stay positive with your child, it all works out.

 

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#25 of 39 Old 09-22-2011, 07:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by meemee View Post

our city has only half days. full days while initially hard to get used to would have been much more funner for dd than half days. 


one of the K teachers in our public school told me that all the K's have to cover the same material. So the half days kids WORK every minute they are they -- they are basically doing what we did in first but during a half day program. The full day kids get recess every day, have specials, play games, have a rest period etc. She said it is actually the more relaxed option. The half day kids get recess once or twice a week. They have almost no free play because there just isn't time for it.

 

She also said the teachers prefer teaching the full day program because it is far less work, with more breaks, than teaching 2 half day programs.

 

K programs vary widely from place to place and I'm only speaking about the programs where we live. I'm hoping that it will help parents asks better questions about their local options and find out what is true where they live.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#26 of 39 Old 09-22-2011, 09:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by tropicana View Post

sounds like, what's unfortunate is that the half-day kids *know* they are being pulled from the fun stuff. it would have been nice for it to be less obvious.

that said, have you considered doing a week of "full days" with your daughter, just to be fully informed on what the experience would be like? it might be a better fit that you think.



I'm not sure how the fun stuff could be less obvious. It's all the kids talk about. At least that's how it is with my kid. If I didn't know any better and looked at their actual schedule, I'd think that all they do at school is recess, music and art.

 

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#27 of 39 Old 09-22-2011, 04:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by samanthasmom View Post

my dd came home today and said she was pulled from music with the rest of the half day kids and had to do math instead.  

i also found out the other k teacher who has a mix of half and whole day kids has no intension of pulling her students from specials and sends any work that the kids missed home to work on.

 


I find it interesting that you are more concerned about her getting the enrichment "specials" than about getting the basic instruction for reading and math. The kids in the other K class missed out on stuff too, but you don't seem to mind them missing the academics.

We've already covered in this thread that there is not enough time in the 1/2 day for her to got both reading/math AND specials. What is your purpose in sending her to school? To get enrichment like the specials or to get the academic instruction? If she is not getting any exposure at home to those "specials" areas, like music and computers, I can see why you're disappointed.

The thing is, this teacher is between a rock and a hard place, and I worry that no matter what she does, you're going to be disappointed because your daughter is not going to be doing all the stuff the full-day students do. You either need to make your expectations more realistic or change to the full-day that meets your expectations.
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#28 of 39 Old 09-27-2011, 06:35 AM
 
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When you put your kid in a half-day program, you don't get to choose which "half" she attends and which "half" she misses. Specials are, well, specials, which means they are not part of the mandated curriculum. I would be pretty PO'd if I found out that a teacher was flaking on the mandated academics in favor of specials. If you want her to have the full-day experience, with specials, then you need to put her in a full-day program that allows for that. I would be thanking the teacher profusely for taking time out of her scheduled "down-time" (which is not down time at all, but for preparing lessons, correcting papers, parent conferences, which this teacher now needs to do after school, on her own time) to ensure that the half-day children are getting the mandated number of hours of instruction. 

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#29 of 39 Old 09-27-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

K programs vary widely from place to place and I'm only speaking about the programs where we live. I'm hoping that it will help parents asks better questions about their local options and find out what is true where they live.

Linda what you describe is what is true of the private full day Ks in our city except for a couple. one of the schools even factored in sensory play.

 

dd went from a GREAT play bases ps/dc to a mostly academic half day K program. i think her experience spoilt school forever for her. in 3 days time she came home complaining what kind of life is school life when art is only once a week, music once a week and science experiments once in a while. 

 

school is now only tolerable for her (however we dont have great options unfortunately in our city - she would have been better off with sudbury kind or hs which is not an option). 
 

 


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#30 of 39 Old 09-27-2011, 03:03 PM
 
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we only have 1/2 day in our town. it is all academic. i knew this would be the case -- that's why i opted to simultaneously enroll her in the pre-K at her great, play-based preschool where she has thrived as a 3 yo and a 4 yo. she's the only kid i know doing this -- but i have no regrets. she gets morning kindergarten, and then comes home for lunch and an hour and a half break, then goes to the pre-K for afternoon enrichment. she gets free play with other kids, time to paint and do other crafts, story time, circle time, snack time, etc. kinder is 5x a week; pre-K is 3x. the other two days i round out with awesome, free library programs.

 

she's very happy and seems to be learning new stuff all the time.

 

also, she's hungry (for the first time in her life, she's asking for food and finishing what i serve her. very nice!) and tired (going to bed earlier than ever before and without complaint).

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