More time to learn

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 12, 2003

&uot;How many days have we been in kindergarten?&uot; Mrs. Jen Brist asked a fidgeting crowd of five-year-olds assembled on a multi-colored carpet during a lesson on calendars.

&uot;20 years!&uot; one child cried.

&uot;You must be very old, then,&uot; Brist replied.

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&uot;8 years!&uot;

&uot;700 years!&uot;

Brist soon began counting the days on the calendar to help the kids figure it out. &uot;1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7…&uot;

&uot;Eight! Eight!&uot; a child cried.

&uot;Did I say shout it out, or raise your hand?&uot; she asked calmly.

They have had eight full days of learning to raise their hands, stay in line, and not make funny noises during class &045; but also of learning the alphabet, the days of the week, how to get along with others, and for some, how to spell their name. Last year and for years before, kids only learned for half a day, but all-day kindergarten was a large feature of last year’s school referendum for the Albert Lea School district. Some administrators have said the extra time in class will help them as they progress through school.

Brist said that’s her expectation. She said the district will compare the scores with kids who had only half-day kindergarten. But she said it makes sense that kids will benefit.

&uot;We’ll have better reading lessons and better math lessons because we’ll be able to take our time,&uot; she said.

Superintendent David Prescott said the studies show that the extra time to absorb information is beneficial to a child, especially for disadvantaged kids.

The levy approved in the referendum will fund all-day kindergarten for five years.

&uot;In the meantime, we will lobby as hard as we can, because all-day K should be funded by the state,&uot; he said

He said if that doesn’t happen, another referendum is likely to keep the program going.

Awaiting his son, Kelly, outside Lakeview Elementary, Jeff VanRiper said he had no question that there would be a benefit. He said without all-day kindergarten, his son would be at day care. &uot;All they do is play there,&uot; he said.

Jayne Iverson, like some parents, worried that her child would be tired after that much time, but she said she’s making the adjustment.

(Contact Tim Sturrock at tim.sturrock or 379-3438.)