One topic has caused a among for many years – the issue of half day versus full day kindergarten programs in East Meadow.
The East Meadow School District currently runs a half-day program for its students, which is met by both satisfaction and disappointment from many parents.
Surrounding districts, including North Bellmore, Hicksville and Westbury, among others, currently run full day kindergarten programs. According to the New York State Department of Education, in the 2008-2009 school year, 92 percent of students enrolled in kindergarten throughout the state were attending full day programs.
A parent of a child in first grade in an East Meadow elementary school, who wished to remain anonymous, said she “kind of expected” to not have full day kindergarten because that is what she grew up with. While recognizing the fact that taxes are high and that having full day kindergarten would be beneficial, there are also many preschools and nursery schools available if parents want the full day option, she added. But, she warned, this perpetuates the cycle of dual working parents.
“I have quite a lot of friends who are teachers and they say that kids of that age aren’t quite ready for a full day,” she said, adding that half day kindergarten worked well for her child. She explained that “it comes down not to the academic factors, but the pure convenience of the parents.”
“There is only so much information that can prepare them for first grade,” she continued. “Most of the kids at that age aren’t prepared to sit down for that full of a day. I think that [my child] would have struggled with a full day of kindergarten. But it’s really child specific. I don’t hear any of the children struggling with the material. So the preparedness in kindergarten must be sufficient.”
East Meadow resident Steve, who requested to not have his last name printed, has three grown sons who attended . He believes that “taking into account the economic climate of the younger families trying to survive on the Island, that kindergarten should be full day.” He added that not “enough steps are being taken to make it desirable for young families to live and prosper on Long Island.”
“It seems a vicious cycle for parents to be hit with ever increasing school taxes and home prices and not have the opportunity to work full time in order to pay for them during their children's kindergarten year,” Steve said. “To make matters even worse, they would have to arrange to either pick them up from school themselves, or add more expenses by paying a sitter or an after school program to look after the children when kindergarten classes let out.”
Sabrina, of East Meadow, who also asked to not include her last name, said that kindergarten should be “mandatory in all states and school districts.” She has two young children, who are two and four and a half years old.
“There are numerous studies showing and suggesting that children who attend a full day of kindergarten have demonstrated greater progress in reading and math,” she continued. “…So many children go to pre- k and nursery for a longer day than the [one third] day East Meadow offers. It is barely two and a half hours -- what can they learn in this short time with a recess and snack time?”
Currently examining other options, Sabrina said she has explored the idea of local private and parochial schools – some of which come with a high price tag. “Who can afford kindergarten with a mortgage, utilities, taxes and no raise in five years,” she said.
Sabrina added, “I’m sure the district has been listening to parents complain about not having the full day kindergarten, but has there been enough people at one time campaigning or petitioning for this?”
Do you think East Meadow should adopt a full day kindergarten program?