Weilenmann gears up for all-day kindergarten
All-day kindergarten is coming to yet another school for the 2016-2017 school year.
Weilenmann School of Discovery is set to implement an expanded kindergarten this fall, following in the footsteps of the Park City School District, which will also offer all-day classes for kindergartners.
Melinda Kaufman, lower school director at Weilenmann, acknowledged that the Park City School District’s move prompted Weilenmann to evaluate its own kindergarten offerings.
"I think a big reason was because the Park City School District did make their decision to go full day," she said. "Although we pull kids from Salt Lake, Park City and the Heber area, we do have a lot of kids that come from Park City. We felt like, to be competitive with the district, we wanted to look carefully at doing that."
In addition to levelling the playing field with the Park City School District, Weilenmann chose to implement all-day kindergarten because of the academic advantages associated with a longer day of classes for young students. Kaufman said extended kindergarten is a great way to prepare students for first grade, and many of the benefits students will reap have been shown to be long-lasting.
The longer day will also allow the school added flexibility to design its kindergarten curriculum.
"In a half-day program, which was only three hours, it was very tightly scheduled — once you have recesses and lunch, there’s not a lot of time left, and it felt really cramped," Kaufman said. "With a full day, we’ll have a lot more flexibility for interdisciplinary projects and curriculum. And we also have a lot of specialists and it gives us more flexibility there to schedule those specialists."
Kaufman added that the kindergarten curriculum will be a mix of rigorous study and play time.
"We still really value the outdoor play and that down time for kids to explore and be creative," she said. "There’s a balance between the academics and being able to just play and get the social skills that they learn by interacting with each other in a supervised way."
Kaufman said that most parents are in favor of the change, though some are unsure their students are ready for all-day classes. The school has not ruled out offering a half-day kindergarten class for parents who want their children enrolled in one.
Kindergarten teachers, Kaufman added, have been overwhelmingly supportive of all-day classes.
"They’re excited to have longer time with the kids, being able to build those relationships and have more time for programs and activities," Kaufman said. "They’re looking forward to how much they can get done."
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