Leaving behind a half-day kindergarten program for a full-day one is a transition for students, teachers and parents alike. In the last legislative session, a bill was passed to create funding for kindergarten state-wide which opened the door for a longer school day. For all kindergarteners this fall, Osseo Area Schools will begin a full-day kindergarten program at all sites, which many see as a positive change. With more time, the students will be able to do many more activities. More time with physical education and music classes as well as work in the computer lab give kids the ability to grasp new ideas and instead of going to these classes once a week, they will be able to integrate them into the schedule every other day. Socially, the kindergarteners will now engage in lunchtime and recess, stimulating the potential for inter-personal relationships with fellow classmates. Brian Siverson-Hall, Executive Director of Community Engagement, says, “There will be higher levels of learning by the time they enter 1st grade because of the all-day format.”
A parent whose student has already experienced all day kindergarten weighed in. Jocelyn Cornick’s son Matthew attended Fernbrook Elementary last year as a kindergartener. “I think it gives them a broader range of challenges. It gives them the academic side as well as more time to develop socially, and the all-day program allowed him to experience the physical education and music side of education,” Cornick says.
Deb Hilstrom, a kindergarten teacher for 34 years, sees great benefit in the full day program. Hilstrom teaches at Weaver Lake Elementary, a STEM school and one of two magnet schools in the district. “We are excited because we have a lot to fit into our day, we have to follow the district curriculum—reading, math, art, science and it’s really hard to get it into a half-day program, so you can have much more time to go into these areas,” Hilstrom says. With more time in each area, the door has been opened for an enriched kindergarten class.