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School Tries Longer Day for Kids

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Original Title:
Lodi District Tries Out Longer Kindergarten Day

A Stockton elementary school is experimenting with an extended school day for kindergartners. The goal is to better prepare the children for first grade.

Davis Elementary School in the Lodi Unified School District has two kindergarten classes where pupils attend school for five hours, instead of the usual three and a half hours. The young students are learning to read, to count, to do basic arithmetic and to handle simple word problems. The extra hour and a half gives them a leg up, their teacher believes, because there's more time to spend on lessons and provide reinforcement.

"I have to teach these children how to read, how to write," teacher Kathy Gau said. "In math I expect them to know their numbers, recognize up to 30. I also teach them how to add and subtract."

Much of what used to be taught in first grade is now expected to be learned in kindergarten. Gau, who requested the extended kindergarten, believes the longer day allows children lacking basic knowledge to catch up, while providing time for more advanced pupils to expand on math and reading skills.

"It's like the more I expect of them," said Gau, "The more they give me and the higher they climb."

Parent Michelle Milton likes how her son is doing two months into the pilot program. "His writing has improved so much already in the few weeks he's been in class," she said. "His attention? He'll pay more attention - closer attention."

Gau, who has been teaching for 28 years, says she is pleased with how well the extended schedule is working. She'd like for it to become mandatory in California. "When the end of the day comes and I say it's time to line up and go home, they say 'Awwww', like they want to stay longer," she said.

Gau's kindergartners do have a half-hour lunch break, but there is no nap time.

One school district in the Central Valley, Linden Unified School District, already has full-day kindergarten.

Those who advocate half-day kindergarten say children become tired or lose interest when they're in a structured setting for a long period of time.

California, which does not require parents to send their children to kindergarten, is somewhat of an anomaly compared to other states. Some 60 percent of schools nationally require full-day kindergarten.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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