Clovis kindergarten students are going full-time

CLOVIS, California

Kindergarten students at four Clovis Unified schools are sleeping less and learning a lot more. And just like the big kids in first grade ... they're going to school full-time.

It's the first week of school and kindergarten students at Temperance Kutner Elementary in Fresno are hard at work.

"We have a 15 minute recess in the morning and a 25-minute lunch-recess. All other time is strictly academic," said the school's Principal, Randy Hein.

Kindergartners here put in a five or seven-hour extended school day as part of Clovis Unified's targeted early intervention program.

Hein said, "What we want to do at our school is make sure that every single one of our students -- if they start behind, then they get caught up, then they accelerate, then they are really leading the pack."

87-percent of students at Kutner come from homes where English is not their primary language, which can often set them back and hinder the learning process.

Hou Tchiang said, "They take that time to think a little bit more; so they need a little bit time to process and then translate it back to their primary language."

Each child's skill level is assessed to determine what strategy will be used to help him or her learn ... and teachers receive special training.

"If you have 35 different children, you have 35 different ways that they are learning so you really have to be the expert," said Hein.

The extra class time is used to focus on each child's needs, with special emphasis on vocabulary, reading and writing.

"They are paying attention, they're listening ... they're doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing," said Tchiang.

Extended kindergarten is optional, but every child at Kutner is participating ... and after one year of the program, the school has seen significant results, with some students reading at two or three times the state-mandated grade level standard.

Principal Hein says it's due to that extra time ... helping each child succeed. "For them to feel that they are smart and know that they are smart, that makes a world of a difference."

Healthy eating is also an important component of the program -- kids are provided both breakfast and lunch.

Weldon, Pinedale and Jefferson Elementary are also running extended-day/early intervention kindergarten.

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