Q&A About K

What information does CKA have regarding Full-Day and Half-Day Kindergarten?

Our district is planning to move to Full-Day, but is doing so with few of the needs covered that I feel are very important such as assistance in the classroom.  It distresses me to know my program may not serve my student’s needs as it currently does and am frustrated that the district is making plans that are not comprehensive for kindergarten students.

I will try my best to answer your email to CKA regarding Full-day K.  I now am a retired Kindergarten teacher.  During my teaching years, I worked only in a Traditional K program so can’t respond based on my experience.  I have read some of the research that comes to us about the extended programs and have had contact with teachers in some of those programs, but my information is only from reading and absorbing from others, not from my personal teaching.  I will give you a bit of the background to help explain.

 

In 2006 CKA worked to help distribute the California Department of Education survey of Extended Day that I believe is published on their website and was featured in CKA’s newsletter, Take Five, Winter, 2008.  The term ‘Extended Day’ is what the CDE refers to for any program other than Traditional K.  It was an online survey of schools, completed by school and district administrators, with kindergarten enrollment in the 2005-06 school year.   Another source of information regarding Full-day and Half-day Kindergarten in the United States is the US Dept. of Education publication, by that title, available free from www.edpubs.org that has findings from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99.

 

Both of these documents show an increasing number of programs through the nation as well as this state, are extended day.  The US Dept of Ed. Research publication is very interesting and is from a large cross section of schools throughout the nation. That research does lean toward showing increased accomplishments from children in the Full-day programs.

 

I understand your frustration with the changes that are coming to your program and especially without the needed assistance.  Personally, I am torn between the memories of what a well-done Traditional K program is able to provide for students and the knowledge of what research is showing and what Full-day/Extended-day programs seem to offer students. The CKA Board held an internal study session in which the points noted below were identified as concerns for Full-day/Extended-day K.  Perhaps some of the thoughts on this list will serve as talking points for your efforts. I sincerely hope that your good teaching skills will overcome the challenges you face in your new situation.

 

Full Day Kindergarten

Traditional K – 200 minutes

Extended Day – 240 minutes

Full Day  – 1st – 3rd grade (more than 240 minutes).

  •  Need at least three hour/day trained professional
  •  Max of 20 students
  •  Guided play – art
  •  Afternoon projects (cooking, science, dramatic)
  •  Different centers – uninterrupted 1-1 or 1-2
  •  Delay formal reading
  •  100% parent communication and participation
  •  Parenting education
  •  ELD for parents
  •  Health services for children inc. dental, food services, finding vision and hearing problems EARLY
  •  Respect for every child’s gifts
  •  Time for choice in the kindergarten day
  •  Gradually introduced to the extended day
  •  Own room with adequate area/space including a sink
  •  A balanced academic curriculum – social, emotional, and physical
  •  Financial allotments for basic materials/manipulatives for the new classrooms
  •  A full day program should be implemented with teacher, parent, community and administrative input
  •  Appropriate assessments

 

Sincerely,

 

Carol Nicoli

Member CKA Board of Directors

Past-President

Is it legal to offer full-day kindergarten to some students, but not all?

My district is considering ending the existing full-day program due to fears of a lawsuit and is currently trying to determine whether it is legal to have a full-day kindergarten for some, but not for all classes in all schools. I am trying to discover other districts that have partially implemented extended day or full-day programs. I also have these questions. How do other district present options to parents if they do not have enough full-day classes to accommodate the need/requests? Do they think the Williams Act is an issue? Do their teachers get a choice of whether they will teach full-day or half-day classes? How are they working with the space considerations?
I am responding to your question as my school district has an extended-day program implemented at only two of our schools. The other school does not have classroom space and is unable to accommodate the extended day. There has not been a problem with availability at some schools and not at the other. At the schools that have extended day, if necessary, they have formed K-1 classes to accommodate and the K’s go home one hour earlier than the first grade students. The day starts at the same time for all students.

 

Our district did not think the Williams Act was an issue other than the added expense of providing big books and the kits for each classroom that go with the Social Studies, Science and Language Arts series. Each classroom must have their own if they are a designated school in decile 1, 2 or 3 because they are then a William’s designated school. Keep in mind that the William’s Act only applies to materials and facilities (must have a classroom for the extended day kindergarten). There must be texts provided for each student in the four academic areas, but it does not apply to Teacher’s Guides or consumables.

 

The union did not object except to advise the k-teachers that once done it is precedent setting. There were no added duty hours or hours worked since all

K-8 teachers are under contract for 7 ½ hours and 183 duty days as stated in the contract.

 

Good luck with your endeavor. You may contact CKA again if you have any further questions.

 

Sincerely,

Helen Faul

Member CKA Board of Directors

Treasurer

Legislative Chair

I have a student this year who is severely impaired, has never been to school or given a formal diagnosis. He is EXTREMELY disruptive to the class. HELP! Where do I draw the line?

I have a student this year who is severely impaired, has never been to school or given a formal diagnosis. His mother has shadowed him from Day 1, but is now ready to leave him alone in the class. He has been attending only two hours each day because he gets over stimulated. He is EXTREMELY disruptive to the class. HELP!  Where do I draw the line? Where do the other students’ rights and my right as a classroom teacher start? I want to do the proper thing but I feel taken advantage of. The parents can’t handle his behavior for 15 minutes, but I’m expected to manage a class on top of his behaviors? Where could I get more information?

The CKA office forwarded your inquiry to me.  Your situation and questions go across several areas.  You need to be appropriate at each of the levels and watch for conflict among them.

 

The first area or level is ‘legal’.  What are the child’s rights under ADA or educational code to be in a mainstream classroom vs. getting an appropriate education?  I believe, and you should check for legal clarification from an attorney that the child has a right to an education, but not specifically to be placed in a mainstream classroom. I hear a clear assertion on your part that the child is not learning, nor in the appropriate learning environment despite his accommodations (his shadow).

 

The next area or level is ‘special education codes’ within your school district. Accommodations for special needs, is a principle of special education, but it also has limitations.  What are those limitations?  Does the child’s behavior affect his ability to function successfully and appropriately in the classroom?  This also concerns his ability to learn in the classroom.  The other perspective is your ability to meet his needs.  I hear a clear assertion on your part that you, as a mainstream teacher with a mainstream classroom are not able to meet the child’s needs for learning, nor can you provide the appropriate learning environment for him within the limitations and responsibilities in your classroom. You should check with your Special Education Department for guidance.

 

Another area is that of ‘you as an employee of the school district’ your rights and the scope of your responsibilities according to your contract with the district. Are you teaching within or outside your job description as contracted?  In this situation, you may need to get the advice of the teachers’ union.  Are you also asserting that you are teaching outside of your contracted responsibilities as a general education teacher vs. a specialist?

 

Mixed into all of this is whether the needs of the other children are compromised or actually harmed by his placement.  It appears that you are asserting the learning of the other children is harmed by the disproportionate and ineffective time and energy attempting to manage this child (much less teach him).  This needs to be discussed with the principal. It would eventually get back to him/her when other parents become disgruntled.  Talking with the principal BEFORE this happens is important, because with all of this is the political reality of managing all these issues, including (perhaps, especially) his parents’ desires vs. other parents concerns for their children’s education vs. your needs.

 

My or anyone else’s opinion does not empower you to make any change.

You would have to make your own decision within the realities of your class, school and school district.

 

Good luck.

 

Ronald Mah

Member CKA Board of Directors

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

 

I have a Kindergarten student whom I highly suspect has Asperger's Syndrome. Do you have any suggestions, tips or other avenues that his parents and I may pursue?

His health insurance has a waiting list of 3-4 months before beginning testing.  This little boy needs help. I want him to be as successful as possible, but do not feel qualified enough to remediate his social behaviors. I need him to not touch his classmates, to stop pacing the classroom and pulling things off the shelves.  Do you have any suggestions, tips or other avenues that his parents and I may pursue?

I’m on the CKA Board of Directors and am a Marriage and Family Therapist.  I’ve worked with families with children with Asperger’s. There is a lot of information on the Internet about A.S.  Understanding how it may apply to this child is key. There are variations in how the condition manifests and how a child may react to it.  This needs to be determined.  There are many suggestions depending on how he is affected, regarding how to interact with him.

Over stimulation, misinterpreting social cues, getting stuck on a particular issue, picking out the wrong aspect of a communication to focus on, believing that others are not playing or using a toy or something else “correctly” and getting frustrated, feeling there is only one correct way to do it are possible expressions of A.S.  Training alternative behaviors starts with identifying the behaviors AND the child’s process that leads to the behavior.  I cannot and would not offer specific suggestions because it does all depend on actual observation.

Of particular use for diagnosis, is the section part way into this article on Asperger’s Syndrome through the Lifespan. http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/as_thru_years.html I find that bells will ring and lights will flash as a parent of a child, including an adult child who has A.S. reads that part of the article.  If the individual does not have or has not experienced the traits over his or her lifespan, then the parents won’t see or feel it.  Unfortunately, because some Asperger’s individuals are not self-aware, they cannot see themselves in the descriptions despite obvious relevance to others who know them. “Aspergians”, is what John Elder Robison calls himself and others in his book “Look Me in the Eyes“.  “Born on a Blue Day” by Daniel Tammet is another autobiography of an Aspergian.

My work with A.S. individuals or parents of A.S. children starts first and foremost with getting them to understand and accept the diagnosis.  Without that acceptance, I don’t believe the rest of the work can proceed.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  They have to “get it” or else it’s always about others messing with them without cause or reason, the paranoid explanation. This can be a very difficult process.  It took about 9 months of intermittent therapy to get one middle-school student I’ve worked with to accept the diagnosis.  Now, finally, we can actually proceed to problem solving and behavior change.

Once accepted through psycho education (interviews and prediction of history and internal experiences: emotional processes, behaviors, and thought processes characteristic of A.S.), then the progression of the A.S. as it affects social experiences and relationships (unexpected and undeserved teasing and mistreatment and resultant resentment) can be named and deconstructed.  It’s not really a step-by-step process, because there will be need to revisit, remind, and continually reinforce the process that leads to resentment and paranoia.

With identifying the development, progression, and cycles that lead to the dysfunctional and unsuccessful world view, then work proceeds on identifying the current problematic cycles, triggers, and behaviors; and, then to problem solving including planning, interrupting, and experimenting with alternative responses. The dynamics of communication and conflict among the A.S. person and his or her parents, peers or other relations also needs to be identified based on the false assumptions and the inaccurate interpretations of behaviors and motivations. Family therapy seeks to identify the inadvertent disrespect and resultant emotional injuries, and thus begin the healing process.  It’s pretty difficult work!  But the underlying foundation has to be the correct diagnosis.

Also, check to see if one of the parents may have A.S. symptoms, but possibly less severe in the spectrum.  That completely intensifies the negative dynamics, but also explains it.  Getting an unaware parent to accept the A.S. relevance of his or her (usually, his) functioning may be more challenging than with the identified A.S. child.  The parent would have come to relatively successful compensations on his or her own and be fully expectant that the child SHOULD have come up them too and/or can’t understand why the child is being so resistant to accepting his or her wisdom.  This then reinforces the resentment, hypersensitivity, vigilance or paranoia and consequently the judgmental and condemning attitude.  The non-A.S. parent will often readily confirm the other parent’s A.S. symptoms and has been dealing with them in their relationship for years, as well as compensating for them in parenting.

The Regional Centers run by the State of California Department of Developmental Services also work with the family and the child.  Here’s the website with center locations in different areas. They would be a resource to try to get immediate help. http://www.dds.ca.gov/rc/rclist.cfm

Good luck!

 

Ronald Mah

Member CKA Board of Directors

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 

I have a question in regards to teacher student ratio for California kindergartens.

I have a new kindergartner. She is in a class of 33 students and only 1 teacher. I volunteered the first 3 days of school and was overwhelmed by the chaos of 33 kids adjusting to school and am very concerned for my child’s safety as well as the level of learning since the environment is so distracting. I want to approach the school with my concerns but would like to be prepared before I do so. Any input you can give me would be highly appreciated.
The California Kindergarten Association agrees with other nationally recognized early education groups that smaller class sizes are more beneficial than larger classes in the areas of cognitive, academic, social, and emotional development of young children. However, the current fiscal environment has forced many school districts to increase class sizes in kindergarten and, unfortunately, many are approaching the levels experienced in your district. There is also conflicting research that questions the efficacy of small class sizes and student achievement (Milesi, Carolina and Gamoran, Adam 2006). It appears that there is a greater correlation to student achievement based on teacher practice as opposed to the number of students in the class room. This is most often the argument used by districts when increasing class sizes.

That said; this is clearly an issue for you, as a parent, to discuss with your district’s governing board. You are correct that the California Education Code does not specify class sizes in the K-12 system. This is most often a number decided by the governing board and the bargaining units. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) recommends a kindergarten class size of no more than twenty students with a staffing ratio of 1:10. Kindergarten classrooms with this structure are eligible for NAEYC accreditation. Another potential argument for parents would be staffing ratios required by the state of California for child care centers. California requires that child care centers have a ratio of 1:12 for four-year-old children and 1:14 for five-year-old children. These ratios are clearly well below those experienced by your district.

The fiscal crisis facing California is severe and causing many agencies to curtail the services provided to young children. The California Kindergarten Association is not alone in the belief that the financial errors of our legislators must not be placed on the backs of our youngest citizens. I would encourage you and other parents to write to Sacramento voicing your opinions on behalf of your students. If you have not already done so, I would also encourage you to become aligned with Preschool California (www.preschoolcalifornia.org) to receive their frequent legislative updates and letter templates for writing to your Sacramentorepresentatives.

 

Sincerely,

 

John Eberly

Board of Directors

California Kindergarten Association

Instructor

Child Development Department

Santa Rosa Junior College