Northwest NEWS

March 13, 2000


All-day kindergarten would require curriculum improvement

   I don't see how the Northshore School District can afford not to have all-day kindergarten.

   My daughter (now in 5th grade) went to a Northshore School District school in Bothell for kindergarten. Despite the fact that she could add and subtract numbers under ten before she entered kindergarten, all that the students were required to do by the end of the year was to be able to count to 20. But all they did all morning, it seemed, was paint.

   Discouraged, we returned her to the private school where she had been for preschool, for first and secnd grade. She was far behind her classmates, particularly in reading and writing.

   When we moved three years ago, we moved her to another Northshore School District school in Woodinville. We are still appalled with the kindergarten situation and will be sending our son to private school for kindergarten, having learned our lesson last time.

   However, Northshore School District changing to all-day kindergarten will do absolutely no good, if all that the students do is paint for six hours a day instead of three hours a day. The whole system needs to be revamped, with a first grade equivalent curriculum at age five--like the rest of the world.

   Some parents worry that an all-day academic kindergarten would be too much for their youngsters. But most children are in preschool or day care these days anyway, and for those who aren't and for those parents who are worried that their child is "not ready" for all-day academics at age five, I say, put them in school and they will adjust soon enough. The rest of the world does.

   We also need to do what is termed "year-round schooling," like the rest of the world. In third grade, my daughter's class spent three months reviewing second grade math because most of the students had forgotten so much over the nearly three-month summer vacation. My daughter was bored to tears.

   Some years ago, two schools in Mountlake Terrace switched to the year-round schedule. They went to school the same number of days each year, but they didn't have the long summer break, and their test scores increased by 20% in just two years. But that's another topic for another day.

   The Northshore School District also needs to offer advanced classes for the top 10% of their elementary students like they do in junior high and in high school, and/or allow advanced students to move up a grade for specific subjects. The top 2% served by TAG is not sufficient.

   One year, my daughter qualified in the math portion; the next year, she qualified in the language arts portion. She couldn't get into TAG but has been bored at school, and it has been like pulling teeth, to no avail, to get her some advanced work to do, particularly in math.

   So, yes, let's have all-day kindergarten. But there's no point if the curriculum doesn't improve--like the rest of the world.

Robin Wade, Woodinville