Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0917edkindergarten17.html
Which kindergarten is right?
Child's needs factor into full, half days
The Arizona Republic
Lisa Le and Cheryl Phillips are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to how much school time is right for their 5-year-olds.
Every day, Le packs up son Christopher and heads from their Chandler home to Tempe. A few miles away, Phillips heads from Mesa to Gilbert with little Alexxis.
Both moms are willing to make the longer trek for what they see as the best education for their kindergartner, but their choice of schools is very different.
Christopher is in a full-day kindergarten program; Alexxis takes a two-hour, 40-minute half-day program.
Phillips said half-day kindergarten eases kids into school, especially children like Alexxis, who didn't attend preschool. But Le thinks Rover Elementary's full-day program offers Christopher a good transition.
Although the state doesn't fund full-day kindergarten in its public schools, most major Valley districts offer it, often at a fee.
And while some say full-day kindergarten is the best approach for all children, other educators claim some kids benefit more from less school time.
"It depends so much on the child and what they need and their attention span," said Debbie Pischke, who directs Peoria Elementary's kindergarten enrichment program. "It's a real tough argument."
She said English-language learners and special-needs children can get a lot out of a full-day program because, although students don't learn anything new, they spend more time on the skills they need to master.
But she agreed that some children probably don't need a full day of class.
"If you're taking your child home after kindergarten and can give them attention and take them to the library, they're probably better off," she said.