March 9, 2018 | EST. READ TIME: 3 MIN

All-Day Kindergarten Program a Big Hit

Reposted with permission from the Watertown Public Opinion

With only two months to go before completion of its first year, the all-day, every-day kindergarten program looks like it will be in place in Watertown’s five public elementary schools permanently.


Appearing before the Board of Education last week at Watertown City Hall, Jefferson Elementary School kindergarten teachers Jenny Flatten and Yvette Foust, along with Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Gregg DeSpiegler and Watertown School District Instructional Design Coordinator Tricia Walker, called the implementation one of the most positive developments for not only the students, but the teachers as well. It didn’t take long for the benefits to become apparent.


“We (teachers) looked at each on the third day of school and went, ‘I love all-day kindergarten,’” Foust said.


One of the reasons the love may be apparent is the increased time teachers have to cover material. Under the previous half-day setting, teachers indicated they sometimes felt rushed to cover the necessary subject matter in a mere 3 1/2 hours. Now, with seven hours in the day, the students and teachers can cover more material.


“In the past, the priorities became language arts and math, as it should be. But that meant we didn’t have time to consistently cover social studies, science technology and other areas that are beneficial for our students,” Walker said. “With a full day, we are able to put those things back into a day and help students recognize how things fit together.”


Walker added that students can now explore topics in a deeper manner in a workshop structure.


“Students are doing more exploring of concepts, developing their application of skills and practicing their knowledge in different ways,” Walker said.


The extra time has allowed this year’s kindergarten students to advance far beyond kindergarten classes of previous years.


Providing an example, Foust said, “Last year, our standard was to count to 20. Already in January, we were counting to sets of 30.”


Social development among students has also advanced beyond previous years thanks in large part to a 20-minute daily purposeful play period added this year. Through different activities such as putting on a puppet theater show, Foust said the students are developing social and logical capabilities.


“We’re really seeing good things in the social areas. The kids are learning to solve their own problems through play,” she said. “They’ve come so far socially in learning to work together.”


The all-day setting also allows students to feel more involved in their schools.


“The students feel more connected to our school because they get recess, lunch and can attend everything,” Flatten said.


Although the first year of all-day, every-day kindergarten has not been without hiccups and adjustments, the teachers agreed that students are in a better place at this point than they’ve ever been.


“The students seem like pros. You’d never know it was their first year,” Flatten said.


In turn, the teachers seem to have developed greater job satisfaction.


“We’ve always loved our jobs,” Flatten said.


As if on cue, Faust completed that thought.


“We love them even more now,” she said.