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Valley Journals

Midvalley to offer all-day kindergarten classes

May 08, 2018 10:43AM ● By Julie Slama

Midvalley Elementary will welcome full-time kindergarten as an option in the 2018-19 school year. (Midvalley Elementary)

By Julie Slama  |  Julie@mycityjournals.com

Midvalley Elementary kindergarten teacher Ashley Ball is excited with the introduction of full-day kindergarten next fall.

“We can offer a full day of kindergarten with the same group of students so we can extend their math, reading, science, social studies and really develop their writing skills,” she said.  “Half-day kindergarten goes by so fast; it’s so short. This way, we can really get to know them better and develop those relationships.”

After piloting supplemental kindergarten this year with 26 of the 75 kindergarten students, Principal Tamra Baker sees great potential for next fall’s program.

“There will be more opportunities with writing, structured play, integrating more stations with activities and subjects so our kindergartners will get more educational enrichment programs,” she said. 

Currently, only students enrolled at the beginning of the year could select the all-day kindergarten option, so transfer students weren’t eligible, she said. Students’ families also had to pay the supplemental fee for all-day schooling and even with some available scholarships, it still limited students in the program, Baker said.

The all-day kindergarten option will be at no cost, thanks to a grant from the Utah State Board of Education. The grant, or Kindergarten Supplemental Enrichment Program, which was given final approval March 16, allocates $80,000 for the school to operate two sessions of full-day kindergarten for the 2018-19 school year. 

With enrollment going on in March, Baker was uncertain how many students would take advantage of the opportunity, but anticipated maintaining a class size of about 25 students in each all-day session as well as offering a traditional kindergarten morning class.

She said that some families may not choose the option as their children have the opportunity to learn from a parent at home with traditional opportunities and may be able to interact with other children in creative play. For those who don’t or are seeking an alternative, all-day kindergarten gives them that option. 

“We’re offering a safe, social environment where they can have extra time with a teacher that will reinforce what they’re learning,” she said.

Baker, who plans to apply for the grant annually, said already with the pilot program, students are excelling.

“We’re seeing real growth with all of our kindergarten kids. We have a strong team that has 95 percent of them hitting their reading benchmark levels. We’re wanting to do even more to prepare them for first grade in all the skills, especially writing,” she said.

Current kindergartners will be tested with the Canyons School District DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) assessment to determine their progress as well as the state’s Kindergarten Entry and Exit Profile, Baker said.

Current kindergartners say they could learn more if they were at school all day.

“I could do more math; it’s my favorite,” said kindergartner Lily Pernod-Nicholson. “We’re doing subtraction now.” 

While classmate Avrie Marchant also likes math and Braden Staker says he liked to have more recess, Alexa Loya-Santos said she likes everything about kindergarten. 

“It’s all fun,” she said. “I like my teacher and my friends. I’d want to be here all day every day.”