I got an interesting call last week.  Someone from our elementary school called to get my thoughts on a whole-day kindergarten option. 

Right now our school district only offers half-day kindergarten, either morning or afternoon.  This is a big commitment for the family chauffeur (in our case, that’s moi) because the buses do not run at mid-day, so when you have a child in kindergarten, you have to drop them off (for afternoon kindergarten) or pick them up (for morning kindergarten) right smack-dab in the middle of your day.  This has a way of complicating matters when you want to meet a friend for lunch or spend the day at the mall — important things.

We moved here when my son was in kindergarten, and I was horrified to learn of the half-day-only program.  I was moving 45 minutes away from my social life, which was significant at the time, (my, how times have changed) and I had been planning on visiting my old friends during the day when my son was in school.

Unlike preschool, where they have childcare available after school hours, the public kindergarten offers no such perks (unless you register for the daycare program, which requires more of a commitment than I need).  So basically, I was living on a pretty short leash that year.

What I’m trying to say, in my charming roundabout sort of way, is that if I had been offered a full-day kindergarten option at that time in my life, I would have been all over it.

So when I received the call last week asking if I might be interested in a full-day kindergarten option for my 5-year-old daughter next year, I jumped on it with both feet.  Right?


I chuckled and told the lady my story.  And I concluded that, ironically, now I am not so interested in this possibility.

Is sticking close to home so that I can pick up my daughter at 11:15 every day going to be inconvenient?  You bet.  But am I willing to put her in school until 3:00 every day so that I can have my freedom?  Nope.  Not anymore.

My reasons are two-fold.  For one thing, my daughter is not like my son was at this age.  I think he would have handled full-day kindergarten just fine, although we did enjoy our lazy schedule that year.  (He went to afternoon kindergarten, and my girls were not in school at all, so we were able to sleep in and hang out until I drove him to school at 12:30 every day.) 

My daughter is not wired the same way.  She currently attends preschool five mornings a week, and I think it’s too much for her.  Many days she asks to stay home.  I regret putting her in all five days and probably won’t make that same choice when it’s time to enroll my youngest daughter in preschool.

But also.  When my son was five, I didn’t yet fully grasp the concept of how fast they grow up.  As my son heads to third grade next year (*faints*) and my youngest daughter bids farewell to the terrific twos (they really aren’t so terrible!) and my oldest daughter heads off to kindergarten (GAH!!), I am simply not ready to part with her all day, every day.  So half-day kindergarten it is for us.

Fortunately, this time around, I know several neighborhood moms who have children going to kindergarten next year, who hopefully will be able to help me out if I need care for my daughter after school on occasion.  But for the most part, I won’t be running around as much as I do now.  I will definitely miss the after-school-care that the preschool offers.  It’s on an as-needed basis, which is SO convenient for me.  But all good things must come to an end, as they say.  The all-powerful, all-knowing they.

Perhaps I’ll get more housework done when I’m home more often.   Bwaaahaaahaaaa…

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24 Responses

  1. I wished for half day K here. I missed my daughter very much. I also think it was hard for her for awhile. She was so tired.

    I think having the first half of the year half day is great and then gradually moving to full days by the end of the year is a good idea. I wish they would have done that here.

  2. I’m sooooooo not ready for Kindy. My daughter’s birthday falls in late October, so she won’t be heading off until she’s almost 6. That’s plenty early for me. In the meantime, we’re gradually adding a day a week at preschool, although I’m not convinced that we’ll go more than four days.

  3. When both of my boys went to kindergarten, we were living in a school district that only offered full-day kindergarten. But between three recesses, nap time, snack time, and free play time, it was really more like daycare with some learning thrown in. I also assumed I would spend my days doing “more housework”-*SNORT*

  4. I’m SO with you……
    Yes, it would be convenient, but it’s all about the kiddos and full day at five is just too much for them (my opinion ONLY). That first grade year comes WAY too fast…… It IS a funky year time wise, but we all get through it.

  5. There are parts of me that totally agree with you. My son was in full day Kindergarten two years ago, and my daughter is in it now. Both were six (or almost 6) when they started. I missed them tremendously in the beginning of the year.

    However….It may be where we live (in MD), but the expectations are so high for these kids that I’m glad they have all day to learn. As a previous teacher, I do like all day kindergarten when it is done well, but I think it is very school and teacher dependent.

    After all that, I have to say that as a mom, my kids are growing up way too fast. I work hard to slow it down where I can. If 1/2 day kindergarten had been an option, I might have opted for it too.

  6. I would like the full day option, but I agree that it is situational. My son will be almost 6 by the time he is allowed to go to kindergarten, so I think he would be ready for full day.

  7. My son will be in K this fall also. We have applied to some “magnet” schools for him. The thing that kills me is that the school district only will cover the cost of 1/2 day K and these magnet schools are full day. So even though these are public magnet schools, we’ll have to PAY $300/mo. If 1/2 day were an option I’d probably take it just to save the money. I can’t believe we’ll have to pay more than some of my friends pay for private school K! It was going to be taken to court to see if it was even legal, but thus far I haven’t heard how that ruling went.

  8. In Florida the Kindy program is full day. I know that I will miss my DD. She is currently in a pre-k program which is half day. So I have managed to do all my errands and get back to pick her up (and my son) in time. My oldest rides the bus and arrives home when I get home with them, so it’s been great.

    I will say that my daughter is always asking about spending ‘all day’ at school. In fact we are on spring break now and she asked this morning if she is going to school. When I said no, she pouted. LOL But I guess that is part of growing up. Not that I am too thrilled with that concept, but it’s gonna happen, huh! LOL

    I will say though that I have had thoughts of home schooling her. I don’t know if it’s because she is my last child or what, but it’s been depressing knowing she will be gone for most of the day. I know if I did this though my boys would want to be homeschooled too. I don’t know if that would be good or not? I am certified to teach k-12 though, so who knows.

    Thoughts to ponder, huh.

  9. My daughter has two more years until she goes to school. However, I was sad to learn that full-day is my only option. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who wants them home as much as possible (at least most of the time).

  10. My first three kids all went to half-day kindergarten, but our school district changed to all-day a few years before my youngest started school. I really struggled with this as he was my last child and I really felt like the school was taking away my last year having him home! Fortunately, our school made half-day kindergarten an option, as long as the parents would pick them up after lunch. They were still in the classroom with the full day students, but the school assured me that half-day students wouldn’t be missing out academically since the afternoons were spent reviewing what was learned in the morning. I chose to have him go half-day for the first few months and finally switched him to full day late in October.

  11. Interesting how your view has shifted.  I enjoyed reading the replies.  As a former public school/full day/K teacher, I can see how the increasingly high expectations could call for full day program.  But, I also remember how the younger ones were SO tired in the afternoon and had a harder time handling it all.  I like Janel’s idea about transitioning from half to full.

  12. I too am amazed at how many of my opinions have changed over the years.

    We don’t have a choice either, so it will be full-day K for dd. she’ll be a young one, too, but she is so excited for school that I’m sure she’ll be fine.

  13. I completely understand your feelings about the K issue. A few or five years ago our school district went to full day Kindergarten. It’s just SUCH a long, long day for those little guys, even though they (the all knowing they) say the kids are learning to read and write faster. Maybe.

    I still wish the half day options were available.

  14. Timely post – I am struggling right now with this. For my first child – fulldayK was the right choice. Not so sure for my child next year. Given the 4K pricetag vs. free half day…. am I mourning the loss of my baby or does she really not need to go fullday. ?? Do I want to give up that precious freedom that fullday gives me or am I thinking of her best interest. Decision needs to be made soon.

  15. Both my two oldest sons went the half day route (Six is still in it now) and that was my first choice all the way. I think that being in school from 8:45 until 3:30 every day is WAY too long for them.

    And I also felt that with all the time and effort we put into things at home before school started, the only thing they were really there for was the socialization and they didn’t need to be there all day for that.

    I agree with you that they grow up way too quickly. It’s nice to be in a position to be home with them.

  16. I definitely think that full day K is completely dependent on your child. Both of my kids are fall/early winter b-days so they are older and I think could handle full day K. However, I know a couple kids who are not ready for school at all and it is a big jump going from nothing to full day. I say you gotta know your child and then decide what is best for him/her.

  17. E has done pretty well this year with full day K. But then again she has been in a full day daycare setting since 6 weeks old. I agree with some that it depends on the child and I have to admit that E is reading really well has some math concepts down already. I don’t want to rush her, but so far full day K has agreed with her.

  18. I wish our district had full-day kindergarten. The half-day program has no recess because of all the academic requirements, and with the specials each day, the schedule seems pretty crammed full to me.

    Plus my son will be pulled out for speech and OT each week, missing even more classroom time. I am hoping to convince them to have him go all day and spend some time in the Learning Support room to decrease the time he will miss from the regular kindergarten class.

    (Note: my son will be 6 1/2, as we opted for an extra year of preschool services to allow him to develop more socially and emotionally. Between special ed preschool and part-time daycare, he has had a full day since he was 3 1/2.)

  19. I’m with you! We’re actually going to put my son in private pre-K5 and one of the reasons is because I know that he’s not ready to go 5 days a week all day long (our school district only has the all day option). He currently goes to pre-school 3 days a week from 9-1 and I think that making the jump to 5 days 8-3 is way too much. He’ll be one of the older kindergartners when he goes (his birthday is in June and he’ll be 6 when he starts), but I think that this is the best decision for us.

  20. I feel all day school for a child that young is far too long. As much as I’d like the all day freedom, if I had the option I wouldn’t take it. Golly gee, they have their entire lives to spend 8 hours away from home…why start them so young? 🙁

    🙂 Nell

  21. It all depends on the kid. My youngest (1st grade now) did well with all day kindergarten. She loved riding the bus with her sister & all her friends were also in full day. She did have one in half day & that girl switched to full day in January because she was so bored. My only problem was she was starving the second she got off the bus. As long as I had food or made something quickly, everything was ok. I was amazed at how much she learned as well. My oldest (5th grade current) had a 2.5 day program. She went all day M & W & then Friday morning. It worked great for us because she could handle the full day + she was my oldest so enjoyed the days off as well. We got to sleep in, lounge around, etc. Most of the kids that struggled with it, got used to it by the third or fourth week. If for some reason, you have to go full day, just wanted to give you some hope that they usually will adjust & have food ready right at bus drop off time, lol.

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