In rereading my previous post on the problems with Alternate day Kindergarten, I realized that I missed a crucial point. http://teachingmybabytoread.blog.com/2011/03/03/my-beef-with-alternate-day-kindergarten/ One of the most critical problems with the Alternate day schedule is that you can’t take two days worth of reading instruction and cram them into one day. Most five year olds just don’t have the attention span for that.
Half day Kindergarten is around three hours in length, but this varies from state to state. In California for example, Kindergarten was closer to four hours long, and it was also against the law to require one Kindergarten teacher to teach two classes. States and school districts also differ in the amount of instructional time they require for reading and mathematics.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that in half day Kindergarten children receive one hour and twenty minutes worth of language arts instruction. With high interest materials, and an energetic teacher, most five year olds are able to pay attention for this length. Usually teachers schedule reading at the beginning of the school day, when kids are fresh.
Alternate day Kindergarten means taking two half days and smashing them into one long day, every other day. But is it realistic to expect teachers to now schedule two hours and forty minutes of reading instruction for five year olds? This could technically be accomplished, but most little five year olds would have checked out half way through. And no matter which way you look at it, they are now receiving reading instruction less frequently (two days a week, instead of five), than on the traditional schedule.
So what can we we do? School district officials are not changing to these schedules because they want to, but because they have to. There is simply not enough money. I personally, have written to my state legislators every year asking them to better fund our schools. As a voter, I always vote to pass school levys and bonds. As a parent, I homeschool my child on the off days, to make sure Bruce can reach his best potential. I’m a true believer in Kindergarten, and the importance of teaching children to read as early as possible. I hope that with better times, will come a return to the traditional half day schedule.