In the state of Idaho kindergarten is not mandatory, and most programs that are offered are only half-day, which is something that could soon change to a full-day of learning.
Governor Brad Little’s K-12 Education Task Force creates a list of recommendations and members are continually narrowing it down until they vote on which to pass on to Little.
One proposal sparking a lot of excitement among educators is greater opportunities for optional all-day kindergarten.
A.H. Bush Elementary first grade teacher, Maria Cortez, being one of them.
“They come better prepared from kindergarten with the basic skills of being able to sit quietly, being able to hold a pencil, being able to use their scissors to cut and to glue. Learning to work well with other people, we don’t have to focus so much on that, and we can focus on their reading skills and writing skills as a first-grade level to help prepare them for the rest of their education,” said Cortez.
Cortez has been teaching for 23 years and says that she’s always been able to notice the impact kindergarten makes on a child.
“When a child doesn’t come prepared with that, we are going to work with them we’re going to do everything we can. We try to get support into the classroom but it’s an extra challenge for us as educators but not only that but most importantly it’s a challenge for the child who is trying to play catch up,” said Cortez.
The class teaches kids as young as five-years-old to develop essential skills for future success.
Joshua Newell, principal of a.H. Bush elementary, a school that only offers all-day kindergarten to their students, has seen the impact the extra hours can make.
“They would forget the next day, I mean kindergartners are five-years-old. So as they go home, they get to doing their own thing and playing and having fun, and they forget. The next day we’d have to come back, review, which there’s some of that anyway, however, with the full day here, we feel like we get to fill in those holes, and do a better job at it and help our kids more, because that’s really what we’re all about,” said Newell.
Cortez says that students in kindergarten are at the age where most learning occurs and that the interaction they receive is also great for their language and vocabulary development.
The K-12 Education Task Force is scheduled to vote on the final list on November 4th.