Full-day kindergarten is in its first year of implementation in the North Branford schools and Shawn Parkhurst, principal of Jerome Harrison Elementary School, shared a Powerpoint presentation with the Board of Education on Dec. 20.
Parkhurst not only shared the general schedule of a kindergartener’s day, but he also shared the differences compared to past years. He noted the biggest difference is that the day is no longer rushed.
After arriving at school, kindergarteners make their own way to their classrooms for a morning instructional block, which is about two hours long, though Parkhurst said next year he’d like to “move lunch a little later so they have a longer learning block to start the day.”
After lunch and recess – two things kindergarteners didn’t enjoy in a part-time program – there is time for a read aloud before the afternoon instructional block. The students then attend a special, which is another addition with the full-day program, before ending the day with another read-aloud and a wrap-up. Parkhurst noted that full-day kindergarten has also allowed for the time of read-alouds.
“The longer instructional blocks have allowed for adequate pacing of literacy and math,” said Parkhurst. “It’s not a race anymore and they have the time to learn.”
With more instructional time, Parkhurst said the goals were increased. Last year at this time, kindergarteners were expected to recognize five sight words, but this year, the expectation is 15.
Parkhurst noted that writing is a large component of the common core standards and the full-day kindergarten has allowed for more writing instruction. He shared several examples of students’ work.
"The teachers are the real heroes who make it happen," said Parkhurst. "It’s the teachers who deserve the credit."