Kindergartners show ‘spectacular’ progress |

Kindergartners show ‘spectacular’ progress

Teachers sing praises of new all-day program

Nicole Inglis

— Sara Linsacum's kindergartners have had plenty of time this year to learn about activating their "schemas."

For 45 minutes a day, her class takes what they've read in books and relates it to events and emotions in their lives by writing about it.

After reading a book about losing a loved one, the students were asked to schematically relate the emotion of sadness to a time in their lives.

"I am sad my dog died," wrote one student in the assignment. "I think he is in heaven playing with Scrappy."

Scrappy was the neighbor's dog who also died, and the student illustrated her emotions and memories in a colorful drawing.

"They weren't writing like this until January or February last year," Linsacum said. "It's absolutely unbelievable."

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With double the time to focus on different learning styles and educating the whole child, kindergarten teachers said the new all-day kindergarten program has left them in awe of what their students have accomplished this year.

At Thursday's Moffat County School Board meeting, Sunset Elementary School Principal Zack Allen showed a video compilation of the past 2 1/2 months in various kindergarten classrooms across the school district.

The video featured a clip from Amy Jones' classroom at Sunset where her students were learning about Thanksgiving.

They turned their playhouse into a "Plymouth cottage," and made a garden out of construction paper outside. They made a Mayflower boat out of a cardboard box and learned what it was like to live as the Pilgrims did.

"That's how they're learning and retaining," Jones said. "They're living it. We never would have had time to do that last year."

When the school district was discussing whether to implement the new program last spring, several parents voiced their concern that children weren't ready to spend a full day in school at that age.

However, the teachers said that the difference in achievement was measurable, and the parents got their first glimpse of that when reports cards came out last week.

"I had only 17 parents conferences this year instead of 42," Linsacum said. "I had one tonight who thought something was wrong because her kid was proficient. It is just spectacular."

Linsacum said she had one student who she thought could have used one more year of preschool, but when it came to giving him special attention, the time was there.

"I do think he has multiple opportunities throughout the day to sit down and work on skills or to work it out on his own," she said. "With a half-day, we were jamming it down their throats, and if they didn't understand it, they didn't have the time to catch up."

Members of the School Board addressed the kindergarten teachers in the audience and asked them what, if any, were the downsides of all-day kindergarten.

None of them could think of any.

"I think at first, some of the kids were really tired by the end of the day," Jones said. "But I don't have any nappers anymore. My kids are begging me to get rid of rest time. Like Sara said, all my students are proficient, even the ones who were really struggling. They're just so confident and happy."

There are a few parents who chose to put their children in kindergarten for only a half-day, and home school them the rest of the time. Kindergarten teacher Lisa Wood said those students also were doing very well.

Superintendent Joe Petrone had just come to Moffat County when the decision to implement all-day kindergarten was under way.

"It's gratifying to see this come to fruition," he said. "I'm pleased to see the program develop as it has."

After the meeting, the teachers showed off samples of their students' work.

They could not stop talking about how much their students had learned and how many opportunities have opened up for them as educators.

"Everyday, I am in such awe," Linsacum said. "We have all day to reinforce things and deal with different learning styles. The kids are just so confident. And I think we'll see it again when they get to first grade next year."

In other action

The Moffat County School Board:

• Approved, 5-0, a second reading of policy 1511 on parent involvement.

• Approved, 5-0, a second reading of policy 5460 on weapons in school.

• Approved, 5-0, a first reading of policy 1210 on safe schools.

For more information on school policies, visit

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