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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're considering using public school for a few years in the elementary school years. I was told that most kindergartens in our town offer full and half day programs.<br>
So we just visited the school next door. 570 kids, 4 kindergarten classes, and only 11 kids do half day, the rest do full day. But get this, you have to PAY almost $3K to attend PUBLIC full day kindergarten. WTF!?! I am so not impressed.<br>
Is this the same with other towns' public kindergartens??
 

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I've heard of something like that, but I don't think it's very common.<br><br>
In our district, public kindergarten is only full-day. In some neighboring districts it is only half-day.<br><br>
As to whether full or half-day kindergarten is desirable is debatable. I think if full-day suits your schedule, if you like the program and if your child is ready for it, it's great... But many folks also like half-day too...<br><br>
At a guess, the half-day idea came from a time when most kids did not go to a preschool, but stayed home with their mothers... and kindergarten had very few academic expectations and was mostly just 'acclimating' to a school. Times have changed though and lots of districts are changing to a full-day kindergarten.<br><br>
Have you looked into other districts?<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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Kindergarten is not a right in MA. Some towns make everyone pay for it, some towns only charge for full day but half day is free, some only offer half day, others only full day, others both. Personally, I don't like the idea of full day kindergarten. I think it's a lot of time for such young kids to spend in school, and I worry that there is too much pressure for 5 year olds to be "getting an education." I speak as a former public school teacher, as the wife of a public school employee, and as a Waldorf-minded mother, just so you know where I'm coming from. (Waldorf schools don't teach academics until first grade.) That said, go with what you're comfortable with. If you can afford it and you want full day kindergarten then go for it. If you don't think your child is ready and/or you don't want it, then go for half day or skip it all together. Unless there are some special needs, he'll be fine in first grade regardless.
 

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I think the reason so many places are offering full day is for working parents who need childcare.<br><br>
Our town is 1/2 day only & we love it. I'm so glad it's not full day.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>veganf</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10732867"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">We're considering using public school for a few years in the elementary school years. I was told that most kindergartens in our town offer full and half day programs.<br>
So we just visited the school next door. 570 kids, 4 kindergarten classes, and only 11 kids do half day, the rest do full day. But get this, you have to PAY almost $3K to attend PUBLIC full day kindergarten. WTF!?! I am so not impressed.<br>
Is this the same with other towns' public kindergartens??</div>
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Our school system does full day, and there is no charge. You have the option to send your child for only half a day, but they will miss out on a lot of the curriculum.<br><br>
Because kindergarten is not required, some systems are trying to have it both ways - 'oh, we'll provide full-day, but you have to pay for it.' Those are the places, IMHO, who are providing the full-day option to satisfy the daycare set.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As for fullday being "daycare", I don't agree; it doesn't start until 9am and ends at 3pm, hardly long enough for a workday. (But they do have extra care options hosted by the YMCA from 7-9am and from 3-6pm...now THAT'S a long day!!!)<br><br>
Our oldest child in question is definitely ready for full day...but we'll also be paying for preschool for the 2 younger children next year and we weren't expecting to have to tack on an extra 3K to the school bill yet! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">:<br>
If we spend that kind of money, or more, we'd thought it would be at Sudbury Valley School, but we were hoping to wait a few years before starting there and "save" money by using public school through 2nd grade. Argh.<br><br>
I just find it really weird that there is publicly funded FREE preschool in the town, but they make you pay for full day kindergarten.<br><br>
As for academics, he's ready. He's reading basic stuff, and has started adding simple 3 digit numbers in his head (thanks to playing so many card games, LOL). And he often complains he's bored at home with his brothers. He's a very social person too, so he loves being out in groups with people to interact with.<br><br>
Now, for my second child, half day kindergarten may be just what he needs, so I'm happy for the option. I just don't get the whole paying for public school thing, when I know many towns fund full day programs. I guess we just live in a big town with wonky educational budget distribution priorities.
 

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I think in MA half day K is common, with full day being an option that you pay for, although some towns have switched to full day. It is largely a budget issue. With half day they can pay one teacher who has two classes (one AM and one PM) - with full day they need to hire another teacher and find another classroom. In my town, the full day <i>is</i> more of an daycare situation, in that parents would rather their kids spend more of the day in school, vs aftercare starting at noon. In my town because half day is the default they do not spend more time on instruction in the full day program - they need to keep the programs the same - so the full day kids get lunch, recess, rest time and a bit of extra time to practice skills, play etc.<br><br>
Personally I'd vote for a 3/4 day in Kindergarten!
 

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Many metrowest towns have a fee for full day Kindy. Ours is around $2000. I too think it grew out of a system that was primary half day kindy, when parents requested more services and were willing to pay for them. And, because many parents don't seem to want FT still.
 

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The publicly funded preschool is generally for kids with special needs; regular-ed kids are allowed to compete for any remaining slots through a lottery system. The state law regarding special education has different age rights than for regular ed. Depending on the disability and when a child qualifies for SPED services, the age rights for public school (as opposed to EI) start around age 3 and end at age 21. For regular ed the absolute right ends at age 16; if for example a regular ed kid commits an expulsion-worthy offense, they're out, whereas a special-ed kid would have to be sent to another school at the town's expense.<br><br>
Public school is compulsory (and therefore a right) for regular ed kids starting at age 6 and the first grade. So what towns do with kindergarten is totally up to them. Full-day kindergarten can be very expensive-- teachers' salaries are the biggest part of most town budgets, and you're looking at doubling the number of FTEs for an entire grade-- depending on the town's population, that can run into the hundreds of thousands. The fees are used to offset that.....and believe me, as a high school teacher.....they're by no means the only fees that the public schools charge! In my district, high school kids have to pay for each sport they do, a flat fee for any extracurriculars, and for a parking spot. Anything that's not a guaranteed right by state law is fair game for the town's to charge fees, and they usually do.<br><br>
I think personally, I'd keep my money and keep my kids at home. There's so much rush for standards and testing and frameworks at such a young age, and I think it's too much, too soon. None of the state-mandated testing counts for ANYTHING until high school, though a lot of high schools use the results of the eighth-grade tests to get kids into remedial classes before the high-school tests. The only thing the tests are used for in elementary grades is all those town rankings.....but your individual child's MCAS scores don't mean diddly squat. I know in math, the tests have actually hurt math education in a lot of ways, because they're requiring kids to know all these weird "alternative" methods for things like double-digit multiplication and topics like box plots, which are used for just about nothing in the real world or even in higher math. And in English, the overemphasis on the five-paragraph essay has hurt writing quality and creativity. It kind of sucks.<br><br>
I'll shut up now <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
re: MCAS, they don't start until 3rd grade, which is one of the reasons we'd be switching to private school at that grade level.<br><br>
re: public preschool - I realize it began as a way to serve kids with special needs, but our town has multiple preschool classes with the majority being regular students, although the town is so huge that it's still a lottery system. They deliberately schedule the lottery after most people would have to pay a deposit for private preschool, so I guess it cuts down on the number of prospective public preschool students that way.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>veganf</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10740995"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">re: MCAS, they don't start until 3rd grade, which is one of the reasons we'd be switching to private school at that grade level.</div>
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But please keep in mind that they're preparing kids for MCAS from day 1 of kindergarten. MCAS preparation is an on-going priority and focus of public school education in every grade, all the time. If you're concerned about MCAS dictating your children's education you're better off not going w/ public schools at all. That is not to say that I think public schools are terrible and only focused on MCAS preparation, but it is always there, more or less depending on how well the school system is performing. This is almost always in direct correlation to how white and wealthy the town is. (It is easier to teach a homogeneous group of kids who all have similar backgrounds, cultural identities, and no English as a Second Language kids than more diverse groups of kids. Though the argument is easily made that kids learn more real world stuff in diverse classes.)<br><br>
I hope this is clear. I have the flu.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>[email protected]</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10735398"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Personally I'd vote for a 3/4 day in Kindergarten!</div>
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I wish everyday was an early release day! 9-1 is perfect for Grades K-6, imo.
 

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Our town only offers 1/2 day public KDG. The after-school program (beginning at 12:15) is off-site, private, and pricey! One thing that hasn't been mentioned in addition to working families is that many SAHMs with older children also want all day KDG on site because then their kids' schedules are the same. It's a pain to go back to the school 2 hours later to pick up your other kids.<br><br>
We found our school's KDG not academic at all, very much like preschool (which in our case was a bit of a problem since our daughter was ready for more!). FWIW, we're at a top performing MCAS school and I haven't experienced any of the drawbacks people are saying. Maybe the MCAS pressure is felt more at middle or low performing schools? Our school is ethnically and socio-economically diverse and it's just a wonderful, cosy, supportive environment for the kids. They don't focus on the tests although they do have have lots of specialists focusing on small groups of students -- which I think is a bonus because many kids get tailored instruction.<br><br>
Overall, I think you can't paint the whole picture with one broad brush, you have to actually go into each school, talk with the staff there, and see if it's a fit with your family. I know the atmosphere at each elementary school in our town is really different.<br><br>
Good luck finding a solution that works for you!
 

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Our town (Barnstable) went from full day, free for everyone, to half-day free and pay for fullday when my ds started school (2002). I chose to send him half day -- one, because I liked having him home with me and two, neither teacher that was there full day was worth the money they were charging!!! We lucked out and a wonderful teacher was hired for the half day class. Since then there hasn't been a class just for these half day kids. They get lumped in with the fullday class and then go home at lunchtime. I don't like this at all and would not send my dd2 to kindergarten at the public school if it is still the case when her time comes.<br><br>
I've heard rumors that the school committee is/has voted for bring back, free full day for all, no half day, starting next fall. Not sure if it is true.<br><br><br>
NOTE: when I say "free" full day, I mean free, only in the sense that there isn't the $2,000 or whatever charge, in addition to taxes paid.
 

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Hikingmommy, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Though if a town is already doing well on MCAS, especially in relation to other towns with similar profiles, they can ease up a bit and focus on other, more fun and interesting things. Unfortunately, right now that tends to be rich white towns.<br><br>
I'm lucky. I teach math to 12th- graders (no MCAS after grade 10 in math), and music (no MCAS at all). So I get to do fun and interesting stuff all the time <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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We were willing to pay for full-day K for our son, whom we knew needed the socialization and extra time to just "hang" with friends. It was pricey, but we knew it was best for him. But, we moved to town at the beginning of the school year and all the slots were full, so he ended up doing half-day. He's withering instead of thriving. Think of all the stuff you learned in 2nd grade--they're now doing it in Kindergarten--capital letters, lowercase letters, reading, addition, subtraction. All packed into 2.5 hours per day. There is NO time for play, socialization or individual expression. This is a LOT for kids to handle in such a small space of time. After fighting with the school about finding ways to help him succeed (they're overwhelmed with kids who can't behave themselves, seriously, so they don't want to take time for a kid who "gets it" but is just really bored and would rather chat with his friends instead of writing in his journal), we've decided to either homeschool/unschool. And this is a good school district with good MCAS scores. What we've learned is that schools are just fine, but cannot adequately address every child's needs (and like I said, the schools are really overwhelmed with behavioral issues). So, to help our son succeed and be happiest, we're going to pull him and homeschool. If you have a choice, do the full-day Kindergarten--they have a much fuller, richer day than 1/2 day kids and your child will be happier.
 

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Hi! I am not from MA, but lived there for a year with dh after we left the military. He was born and raised in Southbridge. I saw this thread, and had to reply, b/c I had issues with 1/2 day vs. full day kindergarten. My issues werent the cost, b/c out here, no matter what you choose, it is just $80 to register. I had never heard of $3,000 for full day, and 1/2 day free. That is ridiculous! So, I guess if you don't have the money to pay, your child will miss out on the education you want to give them. Doesnt make sense to me.<br><br>
Out here, we are one of the only districts that I know of that offers the full day k. My SIL and mom work for a school district where it is only 1/2 day. When I went to register dd, I had it in my mind that I was only going to put her in the 1/2 day, since I thought it was such a long day for her to be gone, and when she is home, we are always doing extra activities that help her learn. We are always writing, reading, learning outside, arts and crafts, math, ect. But, when I went to register and explained I wanted 1/2 days, the teacher and the secretaries really tried to persuade me to full days, by saying that she would be only 1 of 3 children in about 100 kids that would do 1/2 days, and she would be behind and would miss out on all the fun stuff like recess, art, ect. So I signed her up for a full day. She comes home so whinny and tired, but she has picked up quick on different things at school, and even my father said that b/c of the full day, she is further along than I was in K. It is a tough decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It's great to get everyone's experiences on this subject, thanks!<br><br>
After visiting a few more schools, we've decided to try full day K at the school next door. We can always pull him out at any time and enroll him at Sudbury Valley School if it seems public school isn't working out. Crossing fingers.
 
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