“You better enjoy ’em while you can,” a man says as he passes my son and I playing at the park. “I know, ” I reply glancing at my son, “it seems like yesterday he was a tiny baby. I wish he wouldn’t grow up so fast.” I have had this conversation with many passing strangers. I have always treasured the time that my son and I share. And I have to admit, he is growing fast. Now that teething, toilet training and temper tantrums are old memories scribed in the baby book, it is now time to start the next volume of my son’s lifeâ€¦education. I’m not talking college just yet; I’m talking about the foundation on which the building blocks of education is builtâ€¦kindergarten.Order now
But now I have to make a decision as to whether to send my son to kindergarten all day or the traditional half-day. Despite the trend of full-day kindergarten programs, my son will attend kinder-garten for only half of a day. Although formal education will be part of my son’s early development, it will not be a replacement for day care and it will be used in conjunction with the education he receives at home. Most of all, my son will not attend full-day kin-dergarten because I want to let him be a kid. He is already growing up way too fast and he has plenty of time in the years ahead to get an education.
According to Dianne Rothenberg’s research, “the majority of five-year-olds in the United States today are more accustomed to being away from home much of the day” “Full-Day or Half-Day Kindergarten”. But that’s the majority. My son is part of the minority; he is at home for much of the day. Since my husband and I work opposite shifts only four hours of in-home day care are needed. Economically, all-day kindergar-ten would be more feasible because I could eliminate most of my day care expense. Con-sequently, this would become tax payers’ day care expense. Full-day kindergarten re-quires more teaching staff and classroom space; more teaching staff and classroom space requires more funding. “This year, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening D declined to fund a $60 million proposal for statewide all-day kindergarten, saying it was too expen-sive and too controversial” “All-Day Kindergarten Boosts Reading”. All-day kinder-garten is viewed to be more of a public day care rather than an educational program.
Research conducted by Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory shows con-siderable advantages of all-day kindergarten over half-day kindergarten. More high school graduates, higher grades, less absenteeism, and better attitudes towards school are all contributed to all-day kindergarten. However, all-day kindergarten was originally in-tended to help disadvantaged children; “to make a positive difference in these children’s school and life experiences” “Research on Early Childhood Education”. Children “may come from homes or day-care centers where they had little access to educational toys or booksâ€¦when a child who comes from a home already rich in those things, is not going to make much of a difference” qtd. “All-Day Kindergarten Boosts Reading”. My son is “rich in those things.” From books to videos, crayons to markers, and toys to video games, he has it all. He already knew letters, numbers, colors and shapes before attending preschool. Considering this, half-day kindergarten would be a sufficient supplement to the education my son already receives at home.
Although my son is intellectually ready to attend all-day kindergarten, he lacks maturity, patience and an attention span, which is fine with me because I know he’s act-ing his age. Opponents of all-day kindergarten also agree that “full-day programs by be-come too academic, concentrating on basic skills before children are ready” “Full-Day or Half-Day Kindergarten”. I do not expect my son to behave like a six-year-old first grader or become a doctor at 16 like Doogie Howser a T.V. show in the late 1980’s. “Experts urge teachers, administrators, and parents to resist the temptation to provide full-day programs that are didactic rather than intellectually engaging in tone. Seat work, worksheets, and early instruction in reading or other academic subjects are largely inap-propriate for kindergarten” “Full-Day Kindergarten Programs”. Half-day programs, on the other hand, don’t allow enough time for teachers to delve in to deep subjects with students, keeping lesson plans more appropriate.
Early childhood development is important in shaping the lives of youngsters. However quantity cannot replace quality; more hours spent in class at a young age does not guarantee later success of a child’s academic career. Curriculum and lesson plans need to be age appropriate and not overwhelming. Kindergarten is only the starting point of the long journey through education–not the only point. There is plenty of time for math, science and history. For now, let kids be kids. Don’t let them grow up too fast.