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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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About kindergarten.

So Henry starts kindergarten next week.

Kindergarten around these parts--did I mention?--is a half-day affair.

Half day. As in not a full day.

The program was supposed to be changed to a full day, but then at the last minute it wasn't, just like that. We could discuss the pedagogical arguments behind the half-day versus the full-day program, but actually we couldn't because I wouldn't know what I was talking about and would just nonsensically throw around some jargon I Googled. So let's skip that, for the good of all mankind.

I'm just not quite sure how this schedule is going to work for us. In many ways, I think (I hope) that it will all work out just fine. Henry's pretty self-sufficient and will spend entire mornings playing with Legos. And me, my work involves writing a sentence then walking in circles and then writing another sentence, so it's not like I have anywhere to go. He's in the afternoon session, so we can both do our thing each morning; we don't have to rush out the door, he can Lego it up in his pajamas until noon, and then we can take a leisurely stroll over to the school. I picture him quietly constructing masterpieces while I'm, uh, writing masterpieces. This is what I imagine when I'm in an optimistic mood.

On the other hand, BLAAAAARRGH. Henry's been in preschool for the past three years, and last year he was in school for a full day. He is so ready for school. Real school, not these afternoon shenanigans. And this half-day? It's three hours. Three. Not four. Three. Actually it's about ten minutes less than three, and when you factor in the fifteen-minute walk back and forth, that leaves me with approximately ten minutes to get any work done. I am certain my math is correct. But then, I was in a half-day kindergarten, so what do I know.

There are programs I could put him in for the other half of the day, but, oh, the bottom line is I don't want to. I don't want to spend any more money on school, and also I think he'd get just as much, if not more, out of doing his thing over here. All that said, the time is drawing nigh, and the year is stretching out before us, and I'm getting a little nervous.

Reader Comments (60)

Hmm, afternoon? That sounds like a bad plan for the school--I know my son is most obnoxious in the hours following lunch. But I suppose that is their problem now.

Signed,Also Went to a Half-Day Kindergarten
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteranna
Argh. I hear you on the 1/2 day. I think it's horrible they changed it on you last minute. My daughter starts next Tuesday and I am counting the minutes.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertulip
Declan started 1st grade this year, and he's not even 6. (He will be in about 3 weeks). We went round and round and ROUND about whether to send him last year, but it really was the right decision to send him.


It was a huge year of growth for him.

So, best wishes and hugs for your big year ahead.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAimee Greeblemonkey
I have the opposite problem. Around here, the preschool we use just started making PRESCHOOL full day. I don't know, seems like a 3 year old with a full time job to me. Why does a preschooler need to be away from home 30 hours a week? I mean, if they want to call it daycare, call it daycare but there is no way 20 preschoolers are getting much learning done after oh, say, hour 4 of the day. I can't even get mine to pay attention until the end of a sentence let alone for 5 hours or more.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEm
Our town is changing to full day for the first time this year. I really think half day is the best for kids, but it just doesn't make sense in today's society, does it? I mean, what's best for families matters too. Back when I was reporting I interviewed multiple moms who said that it was kindergarten that ended their careers. Daycare/preschool was all good, but then all the sudden, they were supposed to be home in the middle of the day?
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
Good luck to Henry! At our school kindergarten is 8:30-12 until January. Then it's 8:30-2. Staying for lunch is a biggie for some of the kids. The kids that went to pre-school -- no problemo!

Back in the olden days, I went to the afternoon session of kindergarten. Because my mother didn't want to get up early! Imagine her issues when I started first grade!
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSmalltown Mom
I hear you. We were faced with the prospect of going from an all-day preschool to a half-day kindy. Then we moved out of California, and in Atlanta all the kindergartens are 7:40-2:20.

I just think that the full day lets them put a lot of fun stuff into the schedule. PE AND recess and lunch, and music, art, and French, one day each. And when you consider all the "curricular standards" they have to meet, even in kindergarten, I wonder how these three-hour programs are doing it.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBecky
My son starts next Tuesday and he's half day kindergarten as well. 11:35-2:35. Lunch for breakfast? It's better than the morning session which gets out at 10:50! I'd have him home for the whole day! So, I take afternoons and I like it. 3 hours every day. He has the rest of his life to work full days. Hopefully he'll learn and have fun.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdivrchk
People always fuss about the poor kids that have to go to all day kindergarten. Let me tell you I was sorely disappointed to learn the school district we just moved into only offers half day. My kids have always been in full-time day care or preschool. I have two years to figure it out, but I don't know what I'm going to do when The Boy starts kindergarten. Most likely I'll have to change my work schedule because half day child care isn't going to much less expensive than all day, and I'm with you on not wanting to pay more for school. Ugh! Half day kindergarten sucks! (Unless you're in kindergarten, then it's probably pretty awesome...) I'll be anxiously awaiting your reports on how it's going... for future reference!
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJill (CDJ)
My barely-5-year-old son started half-day (albeit morning) kindergarten yesterday. He's enjoying it, but as ready as I think he is, he's EXHAUSTED. Makes for really long afternoons for, um, me. I'm just as happy this transition isn't any tougher.

I've done my homework regarding half- v. full-day. Aside from parents' convenience, there's negligible advantage to full-day, and most of that equalizes by second/third grade.

We live in a strong school district, but resources aren't unlimited. I'd rather see the money/space/teachers used in more critical grades. And an "amen" to learning and having fun!
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea K
My daughters went to half day kindergarten that changed between morning and afternoon every 3 weeks. It was particularly heinous with the elder one, as the younger one was only a year old at the time and just as she would get used to one schedule, we'd have to switch back to the other. And baby don't like momma messin' with her naps, know what I mean?

Ixnay on the ervousnay. It will all work out.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
My kids went to after kindergarten care at YMCA and it was great. Come first grade, they not only knew all the kids from their kinder class, but all the ones that went to after school care also. The Y is a little spendy, but for me, the extra few hours of breathing room it provided in my schedule was priceless!
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Happy Kindergarten! I now run four companies from home and can so appreciate your math -- by the time you factor the time back and forth -- you get about 10 minutes! You had me laughing out loud! Next week my girls go to 2nd and 4th grade and thankfully, I get 6 solid hours of work done in that time!!! I do remember those half days and I could barely get to the grocery store and back during that time--and prayed that my cart was in the fast lane to make it back in time to pick up. I am sending you a hug in support!!
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Kannenberg
All three of my kids went to half-day kindergarten, lo those many years ago. They switched sessions mid-year. When they went in the morning, they needed a nap in the afternoon. When they went in the afternoon, they enjoyed a lazy morning at home playing with Legos. It worked well for the kids, even though it is a whacky schedule for the parents. First grade came soon enough. Enjoy easing into the 12 years of school ahead.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSharon
God, I am positively vomitous thinking about the big K starting next week. Probably because I'm not at all sure my son is ready for the full day program we have here in Seattle. (Sorry, I'm a braggart).
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAll Adither
Do they still call them "Early Birds" and "Late Birds"? I was a Late Bird. We had half day kindergarten shenanigans too when I was a kid. My kid is only 2 1/2, so I don't know anything about current-day kindergarten shenanigans. I just wanted to say shenanigans again one last time.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersveedish
Argh. Somehow that seems just so 1950s. Half day kindergarten. I think they should go 9-5. This is the 00s.

I'm paying money for the 9-5 thing after her half day. My job also involves writing a sentence for about an hour and walking around in circles for the other 7 hours and it is very grueling and requires much solitude.

The thing is that the times when I didn't want to pay more and kept her home half the time I got no work done and bonded so much with her that I get all weepy thinking about it. I was so happy! And I will probably be unemployed thanks to all that bonding/not walking in circles. Also paying off the debt that ensued from that time until 2018.

I do have a problem in that for some insane reason they decided to start her school mid-September and her other school is ending now and the terror is upon me for our mortgage payments depend on my ability to write a few more sentences and roam in circles and it is particularly urgent at the current time.

Good luck. I think you made the right decision but I also think 3 hours is just absurd.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterozma
Here in Phoenix the Wee One's kindergarten starts THREE weeks after all the other ones (thank you Episcopalians!) and the first week is THREE DAYS and those three days are all HALF DAYS.

I just can't wait til the day after Labor Day when we go back to the normal schedule, which happens to include aftercare til 6. Thanks be. Summer took a lot out of m.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterislaygirl
umm, took so much out of me i left off the 'e'.
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterislaygirl
Hmm. We could have paid for full-time but opted for part-time K because 1. we have twins and it feels really expensive and B. I'm not ready, dammit. Forget about them. Who said this was about them? They're 5 for heaven's sake. They'll get over the crushing disappointment of half-time kindergarten...

And yes, I said half-time not half day. The way it works here is the kids go full-days either M, W and every other Friday or T, Th and every other Friday. Which means I get 2-3 full days to "work." I however, don't write a sentence and then walk around. No, I am advanced. I write a sentence and then surf the web -- first to research some arcane tidbit that will never, ever, ever make it into the story, then to follow up on some other intriguing but completely off-point factoid etc. etc. etc. What's that? Wow! The kids are home! Geez, I can't ever get anything done around here... Grr...
August 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheryldDay
Who needs kindergarten after three years of preschool? Seriously. Check out their curriculum and standards/benchmarks for the year and I bet Henry has already surpassed them. Education is an individual experience......expecting every child of the same age to fit in the same 'grade' is like expecting every child of a certain age to wear the same size clothing.This from a teacher who skipped kindergarten :)
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFrances
Hope it all goes well! And Legos are actually mentally stimulating, so he's learning there too. Right?
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Well that sucks. My son started kindergarten on Monday and thankfully it is an all-day program!! Sorry they ripped the rug out from under you like that. Good luck with the new routine.

Signed,Yet another that attended 1/2 day kindergarten
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternonsoccermom
Our district switched to full-day kindergarten a couple of years ago and I couldn't imagine how this would affect the kindergarten students. Wouldn't they be tired? Want a nap? They do fine. And they do get to add in all the extra special classes, so it's more enriching. We also had a huge jump in the number of students who could read when they got to 1st grade. Now, having said all that? Henry will be fine. And you will too.

(Glad to see you are back to writing more regularly and seem to be feeling a little better. We have missed you and wondered how you were doing.)
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Who
We started Kindergarten last week. Full days. She went last Wed, then had THurs off so the other half of the K kids could go, then they all went Friday and...for the rest of their lives...well ok until they graduate. She's doing alright, but the bus comes at 7:19am...which is really early for us to do anything. So far so good, but we're only five days in. Good luck to you and Henry :) Sophia was completely ready for school, I think she's just tired and a little nervous in the mornings, but she's ready and doing well.
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

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