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Q: 1) Which do you think is better: full-day or half-day kindergarten for a five-year-old? 2) My daughter has been in a gifted and talented school since she was two years old. I will keep her there at least until she can start kindergarten (when she is almost six in the year 2000). Her school at this time goes through grade six. What things should I consider when I decide to keep her there or send her to public kindergarten?
A: Every year more and more children are attending full-day kindergarten. The length of the school day, however, is only one dimension of the kindergarten experience. Other important issues include the nature of the curriculum, the quality of the teaching, and the needs of the family and child. Three hours of a high quality program are superior to six hours of a very average program.
Research studies do show a positive relationship between students who attend a full-day kindergarten program and their academic and social success in later school performance, especially in the first three grades. One of the major advantages of longer day programs is the additional time children have to do all the things that kindergartners typically do.
In making your decision between the private and the public school for kindergarten, the most important consideration is finding a program that meets your child's needs. You need to look closely at the curriculum at both schools. You should choose the program that is concerned primarily with the development of the whole child. Avoid the kindergarten program that concentrates a great deal of the class time on developing your child's academic skills and asks the children to do a substantial amount of workbook and seated activities. Five-year-olds are not ready to be chained to their desks. Select the program that features plenty of hands-on activities and leaves a major part of the day free for play and child-chosen activities. If both programs have equal merit, we would advise you to place your daughter in the program where she will attend elementary school since kindergarten programs are designed to tie in with the first grade curriculum.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.