Half Day Kindergarten Still Exists

Friday, December 29, 2017

Any other half day kindergarten teachers out there?!  Yes, we still exist.  Crazy right? Yes, I still teach in a half day program.  When I tell people this, I get lots of questions.  I feel like half day teachers rare creatures who should be displayed in museums.  When I say I teach half day, people look at me like they can’t believe I survived some apocalyptic educational event.   I have a lot of mixed feelings about full day vs. half day.  But I thought I’d take the time to answer the questions I get asked most frequently. 

Don’t you wish it was full-day?  My short answer is no.  Personally, I do not feel like 5-year-olds are ready to be in school for a full day.  Especially 5-year-olds who have never been in a school setting before.  We do not have PreK or preschool offered in our district, so our reality is only about half the students in our school attend a formal preschool program/daycare.  Also, our kids can start Kindergarten before they are 5 (our cut off date is October 1st).  Realistically, we’d have 4-year-olds who have never been in school before expected to be in school all day long likely with no rest time and high academic expectations.  No thanks.  Now of course, I would love more time to teach content and get to do more fun projects, etc.  But without a PreK or a TK (which isn’t a thing where I live, but I would LOVE to teach…just sayin’), full-day kindergarten just isn’t for me.  Don’t even get me started on what is developmentally appropriate *insert eye roll here*.

Are your standards/expectations different than full-day programs? Another big NO.  We have to teach the same standards as every other public K in Pennsylvania just in 2.5 hours.  It’s doable but challenging.

How does a half day program work?  In my school, we have 4 sections of Kindergarten taught by 2 teachers.  We each teach an AM and PM class.  AM starts at 8:45 and ends at 11:30 and PM starts at 12:45 and ends at 3:30.  We have three 30-minute specials (Phys. Ed., Music, and Library) per 6-day cycle and very little time to squeeze in play or recess.  However, I do make sure we get recess time.  Because play is an important part of learning. ßfor real!
I should mention that we do have an extended day program for kids who demonstrate a need for extra ELA practice.  It’s an excellent program that helps give a limited number of kids the boost they need to be ready for first grade. 

Do I have the option of teaching only an AM or PM section?  No- but I sure wish I did!   I’d love to job share with someone or only teach an odd section of K.  At this point, it’s not been an option…yet! (Growth mindset, right?!)


How do you fit it all in?  We just do.  You learn to be super efficient with your time and to make transitions seamless.  Classroom/behavior management is so important.  This piece gets more challenging each year, but consistency and high expectations go a long way.  Sure there are always things I wish we could do and activities that I wish I could squeeze in.  But I can’t make more time in a day, so we make the best of what we have.  Our kids still need to score benchmark on DIBELs and be at least a 4-6 DRA level at the end of the year.  The biggest challenge is pairing down the box curriculums to meet our half day time constraints *insert shoulder shrug*  There’s only so much I can control and time constraints are not one of them! 

So tell me – do you teach K?  full day or half day? 

Thanks for reading!  Here’s a freebie we pass out at Kindergarten registration (that’s a topic that could have a blog post all its own!). 

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