Visalia schools begin all-day kindergarten program for kids

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The extra time allows teachers to spend more time with students and addressing their needs and the changes will affect all 25 elementary schools at Visalia Unified this year. (KFSN)

A South Valley school district is starting the school year and making a big move.

Visalia Unified is implementing all-day Kindergarten at each elementary school.

The kindergartners at Shannon Ranch Elementary School in Visalia are in one of six kindergarten classes at the school and for the first time, they'll be staying class until 2 p.m.

"Over the past 5 or 6 years, we have had some of our school's transition into all day kindergarten," Jacquie Gaebe with the district said. We had one school about 5 years and last year we had another six come on board and what we found is those students were doing fabulous."

The district thought that if it benefited those students, it would benefit all kindergartners.

So, they made the move and implemented all-day kindergarten at all 25 elementary schools at Visalia Unified this year. Most of the kids attended after school programs anyway.

Gaebe says over the past several years kindergarten standards have changed with an increasingly rigorous curriculum when it comes to reading, writing and math.

"What we were finding is with that rush today," Gaebe said. "We didn't have as much time to build that conceptual knowledge to build on enrichment activities."

Activities like science, music and art. Also, the extra time allows teachers to spend more time with students and addressing their needs.

"How to follow direction and how to take care of things and be kind to each other and I think sometimes when we're rushing with the academics in a half day it's hard to get all of that in," kindergarten teacher Julie White said.

The move required a hefty investment from Visalia Unified with provided lunches, more bus routes and portable classrooms.

But White said she's excited.

"I think it's going to be exhausting and I think they're going to be tired and sleep really well for their parents but as far as learning I think it's going to be the best thing," she said.

Visalia Unified joins with a majority of other districts in Tulare County that already implement all-day kindergarten.
Related Topics:
educationeducationtulare countyVisalia

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