Cheshire academic leaders have rightly recommended the town implement full-day kindergarten. Wallingford officials, contemplating similar measures, should take notice.
Members of the Cheshire Board of Education curriculum committee unanimously supported the proposal. If approved, all-day K would begin in the 2014-15 school year. As compromise with residents who remain wary of related financial costs ($856,000 for startup, then $551,000 annually), BOE representatives suggested the program would be first cut should budget reductions become necessary. Hopefully, such sacrifice is not required.
Expanded kindergarten can provide a lifetime’s worth of benefits. Studies have shown that the earlier kids can exercise their brains educationally, the greater becomes potential for long-term intellectual growth (see Cheshire cartoonist John Grabar’s depiction atop this page). A comparable scenario is an adult who first took up a sport in childhood, versus same-age competitors who have only been playing for several years. Of course, advantages attend athletes who, for a longer period of time, have trained their physical capabilities. As a mental muscle, the brain develops with increased challenge.
Cheshire intends to hold kindergarten courses which accomplish that end: Stimulate intellectual maturation in youngsters. Classes will not be babysitting sessions. Instead, curriculum includes reading instruction, writing workshops, math, science, social studies and health. Not to overwork kids, full-day K will also feature appropriate amounts of developmental play, lunch and recess.
This setup is well-reasoned, commendably so. BOE members are expected to discuss extended kindergarten at their Oct. 17 meeting. Once any kinks are worked out, the program should be approved.
Moreover, Wallingford can look to Cheshire for guidance on this subject. Still running half-day K, but with growing support among local parents for added hours, Wallingford has formed a committee to research the matter. The gathering movement in Cheshire toward longer kindergarten can be seen by nearby municipalities as another sign that the switch is well worth considering. Already, 74 percent of Connecticut schools offer the program, or will do so next year, including Meriden and Southington.
All-day K is of much aid for youths, the first step in what can be a lifetime of learning and reaping the benefits thereof. If children are the future, then municipal investment in providing comprehensive public education is money well-allocated: An early boost for new generations as they climb toward personal success.