Full-day Kindergarten is ‘Best,’ and Long-promised State Funding Finally Brings it to the Snoqualmie Valley

I’ve heard it from teachers since my 21-year old was in kindergarten: Full-day kindergarten is best for kids. Great I said, then asked, “Why we only did a half-day program in Washington then?”  Short answer: no funding.

So are you ready parents? The Snoqualmie Valley kindergarten world is about to be reset in fall 2016 when the district moves to a full-day kindergarten for all model. Until this point, SVSD families wanting full-day kindergarten had to [usually] enter a lottery and if picked, pay tuition to cover the second half of the kindergarten day.

But that’s all changing next year. No more lotteries. No more tuition and with new Timber Ridge Elementary school opening in the fall, no more classroom space issues either.

Full-day kindergarten is widely recognized by educators as being best for kids, but finding the funding was always the cited obstacle. In 2007, though, the Washington State Legislature began phasing in state-funded full day kindergarten – signally that it also recognized its importance and the benefits of expanding early learning opportunities.

Long Wait for SVSD Full-day Funding

Snoqualmie Valley was one of the last school districts in Washington to get the full-day kindergarten funding, as the state’s phased-in funding approach was based on the percentage of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program – and SVSD has a relatively low amount of students enrolled.

Now that the funding is finally here, the district is prepared for the transition and the reset to a “full-day K” curriculum model that strives to lay a strong education foundation with a “whole child” approach – one that includes academic readiness, as well as social and emotional development and family connections.

In a presentation to the school board in late February, Snoqualmie Elementary Principal Kerstin Kramer and her ‘Full-day K’ transition team told the school board they also know that a full-day kindergarten is best for kids, and are prepared to offer SVSD students a very high quality program that will provide a strong foundation for the journey through the education system – all the way to graduation.

Starting next year, kindergarten teachers will no longer have to “squeeze” in all curriculum requirements into a half day model. There will be more time for intentional play, along with rigorous academics, that will have kids ready for first grade.

Next year’s full-day K program will be an opt-out one. So parents who are worried their child isn’t ready the all-day class have the option to pick up their student mid-day, but no bus transportation will be available. And parents who do opt out will be responsible for filling in curriculum gaps their child might miss during the second half of the day – almost like home schooling.

The district has been holding lots of kindergarten info sessions so parents are well-versed in the changes coming next year. They’re also prepared to help families who do opt out with options to help  supplement students’ at-home learning – and also allowing the option to opt back into the full day program at any point during the year.

Teachers from each school will also meet with each family later this spring to jump-start the family connection component that accompanies the new full-day K program. They will also hold screening sessions next fall to learn students’ strengths in an effort to balance classes.

Principal Kramer and her team have been busy visiting other school districts who have already implemented the state-funded full-day kindergarten program and said they’re excited to bring the “highest quality program possible that looks at the whole child.”

full day k





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