Committee Recommends Full-Day Kindergarten

One of the arguments in favor of full-day kindergarten is the advent of Common Core standards that will initiate more-rigorous academic focus at every grade level.

A committee has recommended full-day kindergarten for Geneva, and a vote could be taken as soon as Feb. 10 to put it in place for the next school year.

The School District 304 Board of Education heard a presentation Monday from Director of Curriculum and Instruction Andrew Barrett, who headed the committee that is studying the options.

The four options generally were to keep the present half day, go to a full day every day, go to a full day with parents having the option of a half day, or going to a tuition-based full-day system.

The cost will be about $350,000 a year more than what's spent now, but full-day kindergarten will have benefits that far outweigh other options — including the present half-day kindergarten and supplemental programs offered today.

Initial costs would be for a teacher, teacher's assistant, additional bus routes and one-time start-up costs — for desks, moving and other materials — of about $13,000 per school.

One of the arguments in favor of full-day kindergarten is the advent of Common Core standards that will initiate more-rigorous academic focus at every grade level.

“Our kindergarten students don’t just have to change. Everybody has to change," Barrett said. "That’s why there’s an opportunity now."

About 75 percent of schools across the country have made the change to full-day kindergarten. St. Charles, Kaneland, Batavia, Oswego, Indian Prairie, Wheaton and West Aurora already have made the shift.

Full-day kindergarten is equitable, supports academic development, addresses parent inquiries, supports the neighborhood model for local schools and provides true prerequisite for our unit district, Barrett said.

"It's the best opportunity to support all our kids, the academic rigors, the social-emotional learning, and it has a commitment to equity in it," Barrett said.


George January 13, 2014 at 10:36 PM
It's about time...great news for the kids of Geneva! Well done. Definitely worth the investment!
Sylvia Keppel January 13, 2014 at 10:51 PM
As far as I know, Batavia does not have full day kindergarten. That will likely come up, however, especially if Geneva approves it.. I hope Geneva resists the push for full day kindergarten. The research on early childhood education, including Head Start, has shown that any academic advantages a chld may have from these programs disappear by the 5th grade (and more often, earlier), leaving NO lasting benefits. In fact, the only lasting effects are negative behaviors, including aggression and disobedience. The research is easy to find. Here is a good summary: http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/2008/nov08/all-day-kindergarten.html . You will not find ANY research that shows long-term advantages from pre-K and full day kindergarten. Young children benefit most from time at home with a parent. Full day kindergarten is taxpayer subsidized daycare that should be avoided for the benefit of the children.
No more taxes January 14, 2014 at 08:57 AM
Sylvia the reason kids regress is that the teachers teach down to the lowest kid and any advantage is lost when they go from full day daycare to a short 2.5 hours of kindergarten. That said St. Charles has parents pay and it is optional. Not sure why Geneva isn't doing that or if that is still under consideration. The best time to learn is when the brain can soak all the info up. What we should do is offer a second language early and take it out of the high school when it is too late.
Sylvia Keppel January 14, 2014 at 02:05 PM
No more taxes, if you read the research, it is not going from daycare to half day kindergarten that is the problem. The studies show that Head Start and full day kindergarten students show academic advantages that quickly disappear, often by the end of 1st grade, definitely by the end of 5th grade. There are NO long-term advantages to extra schooling for young children. In fact, there are disadvantages in their social/emotional outcomes that don't disappear when you take children out of their homes and put them into institutionalized settings at a young age. Young children do indeed learn quickly, but formal, structured classroom settings are often too much for them to handle. It seems the reason why Batavia does not offer full day kindergarten through the schools, but has an after school "enrichment" program through the Park District (with tuition paid by parents), is that the issue was raised of the constitutionality of charging for the extra half day by the school (free education is constitutionally guaranteed). Rather than deal with the headache of legal wrangling, they worked out a program with the Park District.
George January 14, 2014 at 04:23 PM
Well...by your logic Sylvia...why is there full day 1st grade? Why don't 1st graders only go for 2 1/2 hours? You mean to tell me that full day is not beneficial one year but then 12 months later it makes sense? 2 1/2 hours is not enough...
No more taxes January 15, 2014 at 09:56 AM
Sylvia, Kids can handle the schooling, we coddle them too much, at such a young age they don't even know it is school, it is fun for them to learn, I went and read the studies you referenced and looked at others and am disappointed in the lack of results either way. For every bad study there is a corresponding good report on daycare. The behavior results are miniscule and the causation could be something other than daycare. The kids who I saw that struggle in daycare were from single parent households or came from a bad parenting situation. Daycare was not a cause but could be made to look that way in a study unless you also divide the students into singe parent and two parent households when publishing the results. Also regarding the studies they don't differentiate between high or low quality daycare. Or good schools and bad schools. I would thing CPS students would struggle and lose the benefits of daycare but if you send your child to a private school they may continue to learn at a higher level.
Sylvia Keppel January 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM
George, older children are developmentally more ready to sit in a classroom setting. It is a function of physical and emotional growth. Just like babies learn to walk at different ages, children are ready for school at different ages. It may happen gradually or suddenly (like walking), but usually happens by a certain age. That's one of the reasons school is not mandated until 6 years old (until recently, it was 7 in IL). Really, 7 is a better minimum, as many children, especially boys, are still not ready at 6. While some children may be ready for full day kindergarten at 5 yrs old, research shows that many are not, and pushing them into it can be detrimental, especially when there are NO lasting benefits. When you stop to think about it, all of this kindergarten discussion, with all of its expenses and possibility of harm, is really for schooling for 5 yr olds that is not even mandated.
Sylvia Keppel January 15, 2014 at 01:10 PM
No more taxes, the studies show that while early childhood education may have some benefit for "at risk" (e.g., low-income, single parent households), those benefits disappear quickly. So the government (read: taxpayers) is throwing away billions of dollars on programs that have NO lasting effect. Not one study has shown ANY benefit beyond the 5th grade. Even those advocating these programs have to admit that. They try to correct for income and other factors, but the studies still show NO lasting effect. And not every child thinks school is fun. How many little children start their day in tears? How many children are inappropriately labeled as ADHD and drugged because they just aren't physically mature enough to sit still? How many children are inappropriately labeled as "slow" because their brains haven't made all their connections yet? Frustration is not fun. One of my daughters didn't start reading until she was 7. Until the switch turned on, she couldn't do it. She could name the letters, write the letters, but couldn't connect the letters with sounds. It was just a matter of time. Now she loves to read and write.
Sylvia Keppel January 15, 2014 at 01:17 PM
Oops. My last comment should read, "NO lasting POSITIVE effect".
No more taxes January 16, 2014 at 12:59 AM
Sylvia, I'm sure for every negative study I can find a positive one or more http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/11/lifelong-benefits-of-preschool/one. I believe your child's struggles may be influencing your viewpoint. My brother is dyslexic so I understand reading issues. Most kids in Geneva are ready for Kindergarten because they have been exposed to early learning in preschool which makes it easier for the K teachers. Those few that did not have any preschool may have it harder or will have to catch up. 2.5 hours of school is not enough and the kids can do more and will benefit from it. Regarding "no lasting positive effect" which you repeat. How do you measure for that? My son is 5 and has taken music lessons. When he is 10 how do I study that? If he maintains his private lessons he will progress. If I leave it up to Geneva Schools he will regress. He is regressing or not progressing as fast this year because he learned phonics last year. Spent time this year doing the same thing that he knew already. Wasting his time and not moving forward. So preschool prepared him but the school system let him down by repeating what he already knew. So my argument is not against preschool but for more of it, and more advanced kindergarten on up. Then you would see the positive effects.
Sylvia Keppel January 16, 2014 at 04:31 AM
NMT, that study you cited did not bolster your point. For one thing, the methodology was flawed. The number of children in the Perry study was 123, with 58 children in the program, 65 in the control group (not part of the preschool program). They had 2.5 hrs of preschool per day for 2 years, AND 1.5 hrs of home visits per week with teachers working with mothers on the socioemotional development of their children. Studies have shown that the latter work to improve interaction between mother and child does have benefits, unlike standard preschool. And this study in its calculations makes the huge assumption that all outcomes will be positive or non existent. They do not allow for negatives: "Baker, Gruber and Milligan(2008) investigate the effects of Quebec's universal childcare program and find a number of adverse effects of this program on children's socio-emotional skills, possibly casting doubt on use of one-sided p-values in this paper." When you start with biased assumptions, the "research" starts to unravel. Read the paper, especially the footnotes. It's laughable how many assumptions they make. Even so, the most they can say is that there is very little, if any, positive benefit, mostly in behavior (which you might expect with the one-on-one working with parents), and more for girls. There was no more time spent in the classroom than the 2.5 hrs of half day kindergarten. You can try to find more studies that support your assertion that more school, earlier, is better for kids, but the good, large studies, even the government's national Head Start study, do not bear this out. "Lasting effects" are measured in different ways, depending on the study. They compare the test subjects to control groups that are not subjected to their program. If there is significant difference in measured outcomes, maintained over time, there is lasting effect. If your child already knows what they're teaching, why not seek to have him double-promoted? And my daughter didn't "struggle", she just took her time. Her older siblings started reading at the typical time. If she had gone much longer, we would have sought evaluation, but being a seasoned mom who knows her children (and a little something about growth and development), I wasn't worried. 6 yrs old is still too young for some children to read.
No more taxes January 16, 2014 at 09:30 AM
Sylvia https://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/04/universal-preschool-is-a-sure-path-to-the-middle-class/ Arne Duncan wrote this, now he may have political motives but he did run the Chicago Schools and is the Secretary of Education. Kind of refutes everything you are saying but it is his opinion. I would suggest we just use a common sense argument and forget the studies. Is it better for kids to be socialized and learning or home watching cartoons or playing Xbox? "Actually my son does learn a lot on Octonauts:) From my own experience watching kids learn at the preschool level I know they are progressing and learning. I know my son is learning now and has the capacity to do more and that 2.5 hours is nothing. And he actually said that himself last week. I would also think that if we made full K optional but then when entering 1st grade have the kids test into grade 1 classes and put the higher scoring kids in one class and the lower scoring in another instead of random. The odds are the full day kids would end up mostly in a higher level. This advantage would then propel them every year onward and then would be measurable. My argument is that we don't do this. Kids are just put in 1st grade with any old teacher and then all mostly taught at the same level which over time mitigates the effects of an early start. Environment, parenting, natural ability will all play a greater role then preschool or the extra half day of K. Just saying it won't hurt the kids and will help.
Sylvia Keppel January 16, 2014 at 03:41 PM
NMT, that article certainly is political opinion. Studies are necessary when opinions differ. My common sense (backed by studies) tells me a child does best in his/her early years when cared for by a parent who loves the child. Young children learn most by observation. Which is better, to have a child "socialized and learning" from his equally immature peers in an environment where he quickly learns aggressive behavior to survive and keep his toys, or "socialized and learning" by watching mom or dad in daily tasks, behaving as he ought to one day, and benefiting from individualized love and care? If you let your young child sit around watching tv and playing Xbox all day, I feel sorry for your child. I'd hope most parents love their child enough to know this is not good. Playing, eating, sharing, going on errands ("field trips") are normal parts of a day with a child. It may not seem significant, but the child is constantly learning from each interaction. Would you rather have him learn from adults or other 4 yr olds? If you push for separate classrooms at the beginning of 1st grade, what happens when the benefits of full day kindergarten wear off by the end of the year? Do you retrack them into the lower group? Do you boost up other kids mid year who catch up? Remember, studies show academic benefits fade out quickly. Now, I would argue that some kids should be given added attention when necessary (like honors classes). When I was in kindergarten many years ago, I was taken aside with a couple of others to do more advanced reading work. I was indeed bored much of the time otherwise; but that's the price of public education in a one-size-fits-all model. It is very difficult if not impossible to meet all students' needs unless you track like you suggest, but in the early years you would have to change the model to allow for fluidity between levels to match the rapidly developing minds. I don't know of any school doing such a thing, because of the logistical nightmare, but if you could find one that works or figure out how to implement this, I would think it would be beneficial.
No more taxes January 16, 2014 at 11:59 PM
Sylvia, In a proper preschool children are learning how to socialize and are taught by professionals and are not learning from 4 year olds. I think you just insulted every preschool and kindergarten teacher. But I'm not one so that's ok:) The preschool we used taught children how to wait in line, how to ask questions, how to work together and play nice and share. Kids that misbehave learn consequences. Preschool does not cause bad behavior. There may be kids in preschool that are there because the parents don't have time to spend with them or are single parent households so the causation is that not preschool itself. correlation vs causation... If you think 1st grade is ok for full day but not earlier that is where we differ. Never said I let my child play xbox or watch tv all day. I was saying that many other parents do. He will never get video games. I'm waiting for that argument from him. We are not talking about you or me but the averages and the masses. While you may be a great mom and take the time to teach your child every day there are more parents that do not. More two parent working homes, single moms or parents that are not capable or willing to teach their children. I am also talking about learning in school, not doing everyday tasks which are the parents responsibility. Which schools spend too much time and money on too. I do know that my child will be reading soon. He is learning math. He learned about MLK today and actually remembered it and could converse with me about him. So I imagine how much more he would learn if it was not just 2.5 hours a day with how much of that time is actually spent learning? I do agree that public ed needs to be altered but that will not happen soon. Colleges too are outdated and need total revamping which may occur earlier if degrees don't result in jobs/careers. I have looked to private schools but am not sure it is affordable with what we pay in taxes already for schools. It is something we are considering. I guess we will never agree with each other on this subject or the studies but that is ok. No harm done. All in all we are each looking out for what is best for our children Full day K is coming too late for mine so this argument doesn't really matter for me. I actually do more in the 1/2 day not used with music, sports, mandarin, museum trips that will benefit him more later. Hope I'm right. I do agree with you on your Batavia tax issues. Behind you 100% on that. Geneva is just as bad. Enjoyed the conversation.
btown95 January 18, 2014 at 01:33 AM
You two can argue all you want, but full day Kindergarten will be a state mandate in a few short years.


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