Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Coming Soon: Extended Day Kindergarten

Last night the Trustees approved an expansion of our kindergarten program to include an extended day option.  This capped weeks of meetings, discussions, and countless emails & community communications.  We're very excited about the changes.

The final form of the program will continue to evolve over the next several months.  Asst. Supt. Of Curriculum and Instruction Nancy Davis will be leading the team to finalize how it all works.  There a few key points, though, based on the many discussions we've had so far:
  • Go Deep.  The program will focus on allowing kids to explore, to go deeper into content.  This is specifically not an attempt to "cram more into the day". 
  • Half Day Option   There will be an option for parents who want to have their child attend half-day kinder also.  We heard from quite a few parents who didn't want a full day program, and we are intent on meeting those needs also.
  • Help those who need it.  One thing we have seen with the pilot we've been running at Gardner is that English language learners see a benefit from this program through about third grade.  It's not a permanent advantage, but it does seem to help, so they will benefit from it.
  • Challenge those who can.  At the other end of the scale, we have a number of exceptionally bright children who arrive ready to learn, and ready to challenge themselves.  We are excited to work with those kids to help them get their education off to a fantastic start by allowing them to explore their interests and capitalize on their natural curiosity.
We will continue to discuss this program over coming board meetings.  One area of interest for me is to see how we define our measurable outcomes.  The benefits of EDK are expected to be as much social/ emotional as educational.  Mrs. Davis and her team will be considering how they plan to measure those outcomes to ensure we are gaining the best value for the money being spent.

I'm excited about this program, because it represents a modest change but one that the community clearly supports.  My communications were running about 20:1 in favor of EDK.  I will look forward to hearing from those parents about the experience as their children move through our first EDK program.