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Posts Tagged ‘#FullDayK’

kindergarten

Photo: Ksenia Chernaya, Pexels

Parents can’t always count on kindergarten. That’s the moral of a story told in the Atlantic.

“At age 5 and 6, children are at a crucial stage in brain development,” the Atlantic’s article says. “Educators, advocates, researchers, and state officials largely agree that full-day [kindergarten] programming is beneficial for children, both academically and socially. Studies have shown that kids enrolled in full-day offerings make greater advances in literacy than those enrolled in half-day ones. These gains are maintained for years.”

In other words, free, full-day kindergarten programs ought to be easy to find.

However the growth of kindergarten in public schools, the article explains, has “happened gradually. It arrived in the 19th century as a privately funded educational venture. By the start of World War I, the grade had become part of all major city public-school districts, and by 1965, more than 2 million children across 40 states were enrolled. Most early kindergarten programs offered only half-day coverage, but in the past several decades, full-day programs have become more common. The grade got more attention in the early 2000s with the introduction of the No Child Left Behind Act.”

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

In most of Massachusetts, full-day kindergarten classes are a free part of what local public schools provide.

But as our past intern Cheyanne Nichter found when she researched the issue, there are 38 school districts in Massachusetts that have charged tuition for full-day kindergarten during the last few years. Nichter’s work helped us develop a fact sheet on full-day kindergarten tuition costs.

Kindergarten enrollment, as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education explains, “is encouraged but not required in Massachusetts. All school districts are required to provide free half day kindergarten to families but many provide a full day option (either free or tuition based).”

Charging tuition for kindergarten creates a financial burden for parents and an inequitable situation since the amounts parents pay vary by district.

In Acton-Boxborough, for example, kindergarten tuition was $4,500 in the 2019-2020 school year. There was no kindergarten program in 2020-2021. And the tuition for the current 2021-2022 year is $3,750.

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“Melrose Mayor Rob Dolan said it took snow-removal savings from a nearly snowless winter for the city to be able fund free, full-day kindergarten back in 2012,” Wicked Local Melrose reported earlier this month.

“And while most kids in the commonwealth do have access to full-day kindergarten — 93 percent, according to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — for many it comes at a price, one that not everyone can pay. The result: some children across the commonwealth are reaping the benefits, and others are not.”

That’s a shame because as Amy O’Leary, director of our Early Education for All Campaign, told Wicked Local, “We know that full-day kindergarten makes a difference… It’s really about more time for quality instruction, more time for teacher and student interaction, learning the routines of the day. If you think about two-and-half hours versus six hours, there’s just more time for instruction and learning at your own pace.” (more…)

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