Valley parents choose day lengths for kindergarteners
February 11, 2009
Every spring, parents of future kindergarten students choose to enroll their children in either half- or full-day kindergarten.
There are only three full-day kindergarten classes in the district — one each at Snoqualmie Elementary, Cascade View and North Bend Elementary — and each has a long waiting list. Last year, Snoqualmie Elementary had 88 children apply for 21 seats.
“It’s very competitive,” said Cheryl Bachelder, a secretary at Snoqualmie Elementary.
Neither Fall City nor Opstad Elementary offers full-day kindergarten. Opstad students who would like to enroll can sign up for the North Bend Elementary program. If Cascade View enrollment is high, it will not offer full-day kindergarten. If this happens, Cascade View students can apply for the full-day program at Snoqualmie Elementary.
Schools with a lottery for full-day kindergarten assign each student a number. Regardless of the students’ placement, they will learn the same lessons in half-day as they will in an all-day class.
“We teach exactly the same curriculum,” Snoqualmie Elementary full-day kindergarten teacher Judy Crandall said. “I have the luxury of having just a little more time.”
Joy Orcutt, a half-day teacher at Snoqualmie Elementary, said, “half-day is short. It’s pretty much math, reading and writing.”
The two teachers went through a list of skills children need to do well in full-day kindergarten.
“They’re still only 5,” Crandall said. “They need to be able to handle a day without a nap.”
The teachers noticed different patterns of attentiveness among their students.
“I do feel that the little p.m. kids are tired,” Orcutt said. “At the beginning of the year, they were really quiet. I think they were just really tired. Now, they’re really chatty.”
But Crandall noticed the opposite.
“I always felt that p.m. was more active,” she said. “They’re all waking up. That’s why full-day should be for a student that can handle it. It’s about maturity.
“If they go to day care, they’re still getting that full day,” Crandall added.
For half-day students, learning does not stop outside of the classroom.
“Every day, I tell them to go home and play,” Orcutt said.
Washington state only funds half a day of kindergarten, prompting parents of full-day students to pay $310 per month for 10 months to finance the other half. If their child is selected, parents make a deposit over the summer to hold their child’s place in the full-day class.
Because the lottery is random, the number of boys and girls is not always equal. Last year, Crandall said she had an even split of both, but other years she has taught different proportions of boys and girls.
“In kindergarten, we get whatever walks through the door,” Crandall said.
Quite a few half-day students spend either their morning or afternoon in daycares around the Snoqualmie Valley. Buses stop at many of these daycares so busy parents do not have to drive them to and from school. School staff escort kindergarten students to the bus.
Other children go home to spend time with their families. Kristen Hedger decided to enroll her daughter Macy into half-day kindergarten.
“I just felt like the kids still need to be kids and that she’ll have 17 more years of school,” Hedger said. “I just wanted to keep her with me a little while longer. Plus, I feel like we do a lot at home.”
Hedger, a former kindergarten teacher, said she felt Macy was “up to par” on her learning and development.
“At home, I try to give her stuff that we can do hands-on — things that she doesn’t get to do sitting at a desk. We read a lot. We just do goofy things like go around with the tape measure. She makes long lists of how long things are,” Hedger said.
At Snoqualmie Elementary, Macy is “a social butterfly,” Hedger said.
By the end of the year, most elementary students are ready for first grade.
“The growth is incredible,” Orcutt said.
“It’s a shock when the new ones come in next year,” Crandall said.
The two laughed, saying that after teaching students about the calendar, how to push in their chairs and encouraging cooperation during playtime, many students have evolved to a new level of operating.
“It’s really rewarding to see,” Orcutt said.
Reach reporter Laura Geggel at 392-6434 .221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.