Teachers, district give an ‘A’ to all-day kindergarten | RecordCourier.com

Teachers, district give an ‘A’ to all-day kindergarten

by Caryn Haller
Shannon Litz/The Record-Courier

In a class of 27 students, all-day kindergarten has provided Meneley teacher Kathryn Oxoby the time needed to not only teach the three R’s, but manners and social skills as well.

Thanks to a $3.1 million Comprehensive Striving Readers Literacy Project grant, Meneley, Jacks Valley, and Scarselli elementary schools offered free all-day kindergarten for the first time this year.

“I love it. I absolutely love all-day kindergarten. It gives us a chance to hit all areas of academics as well as development in social skills,” Oxoby said “It’s a well-rounded experience. I don’t have any cons. I have nothing but positive things to say.”

In half-day kindergarten, teachers had less than three hours of teaching with their students, forcing them to fit as much learning as they could into very little time.

In all-day kindergarten, Oxoby said she is able to spend more time reviewing and solidifying the information in the young learners’ minds. It also allows more time for music and movement which aids in learning skills.

“We’re able to review things so kids have a solid understanding before they move on to the next grade, ” she said. “It allows us to go back and revisit the things we’re teaching. It also allows us time to work on developmental activities as well. We’re not in a hurry”

Oxoby has a degree in early childhood education, and has been teaching kindergarten for six years. She said a solid kindergarten foundation is essential to a child’s future learning success.

“I feel early childhood education is so important. It’s like if you were building a building, you need a strong foundation,” she added. “I like it because we’re the introduction to public school. I’m passionate about all my students feeling good about school, and being ready to move on.”

Oxoby has also noticed an increase in her students’ progress reports.

“Kindergarten teachers are seeing increased levels of reading, writing and math,” she said. Some people have the idea kindergarten is a glorified daycare, but kindergarten curriculum nowadays is what first grade used to be. We are writing sentences, we are reading, and we are composing and decomposing numbers. Kindergarten may not be a requirement, but it certainly is necessary.”

Another advantage to students being in class all day is that it sets the stage for first grade.

“When they get to first grade, they have the stamina to stay all day. It allows them to hit first grade running,” Oxoby said. “If I had my wish, we’d have universal preschool and all-day kindergarten in all schools.”

To accommodate the increased number of students, Meneley added an extra kindergarten class this year, and will add an extra first-grade class next year.

Meneley principal Becky Rugger said the school was fortunate to receive the striving readers grant.

“I’m a die-hard kindergarten teacher. It’s in my heart and soul,” Rugger said. “Kindergarten sets the foundation, so the opportunity of having all-day kindergarten has been amazing.”

Rugger said the opportunity has been good for the students as well.

“They have to learn, but they also have to get the socialization,” she added. “Having them here all day they are more connected to the student body and the school.”

Douglas County School Superintendant Lisa Noonan said Douglas was one of four counties in the state to receive the striving readers grant.

“We were really excited to have done so well in our proposal to be selected as one of the counties,” she said. “If we can put money in kindergarten, let’s get them literacy-rich in the early years, so we don’t have children who are frustrated and shutting down in grades three, four and five.”

In order to provide all-day kindergarten for the entire county for free, Noonan said the district would need $600,000 per year from the state.

Piñon Hills Elementary School offered one class of tuition-based kindergarten this year, and Gardnerville Elementary School will offer one tuition-based class in the fall.

Parents interested in enrolling their child in the Gardnerville Elementary class need to contact the school and pay the deposit as soon as possible. The cost per week is $75.

“There’s still hope for next year. We have to see what the Legislature will do,” Noonan said. ”If the Legislature gives us more money for state-funded all-day kindergarten, we will refund the deposits.”

Parents of children who participated in all-day kindergarten will be receiving a survey in the mail about their experience.

“We’ve had really positive feedback from parents so far,” Noonan said. “We hope they will fill out the survey and send it back. We can always find ways to improve upon it.”

For more information, call the district office at 782-5135.