Kindergarten teacher Dianne Fuller has her class in a full circle of attention.
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Rossford schools' full-day kindergarten program has shown positive results and has proven more valuable than its half-day counterpart, teachers and administrators said.
Teachers and parents have seen improvement in students' social skills, and under the new system, students spend more time interacting with their peers, they said. Also, teachers and administrators spend more time with students and have seen positive results in the children's development, they said.
"All the parents say they can see progress in their children's skills," said Alice Buehrle, a kindergarten teacher at Glenwood Elementary School. "Now we have more time for in-depth reading, math, science, and social studies classes. Before, we just had time for reading, but now we can do more field trips and bring in more speakers to our classrooms."
Nine full-day classes are offered in the Rossford schools district: four at Glenwood, three at Indian Hills, and two at Eagle Point Elementary School. All parents of kindergartners in the system have opted for the full-day program, even though the state requires only a half day.
"It is absolutely wonderful. We have so much more time for stimulating activities now that we have a full day with the students," said Holly Schmidbauer, the principal of Indian Hills Elementary.
The school district is expecting more kindergartners in the coming years.
According to a study released by an architecture and planning firm, last week, Rossford schools could gain 540 students over the next 10 years. And the school district has had a significant increase in the number of enrolled kindergartners in the last academic year. In 2003, there were 138 students and in 2004, there were 220 kindergartners.
Tricia Hastings, the district's kindergarten curriculum director, said research supports the fact that full-day kindergarten classes are more effective.
"We are quite pleased with the success of our program in that we have increased time on tasks for the students," she said.
A full kindergarten day includes the usual activities, such as calendar time, story time, sounds, art, music, and physical education activities. The students also have several scheduled breaks, including 15 minutes after lunch.
"A half-year of full-day kindergarten is proving to be more effective than a full year of half days, which is stunning us," said Diana Hersch the Rossford schools communications liaison.
The full day of classes is especially critical at the kindergarten level because "as long as the state continues to mandate more rigorous standards for our students, we need to make sure our students are prepared to meet those standards," she said.
Other school districts that have or have decided to adopt full-day kindergarten include the Swanton, Springfield, and Washington Local Schools.
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