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Parents Expand Push for Full-Day Kindergarten

Turn to online petition to bolster calls for added kindergarten time.

Parents working to keep pressure on the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional Board of Education to expand kindergarten classes have launched a Change.org petition. Credit: Getty
Parents working to keep pressure on the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional Board of Education to expand kindergarten classes have launched a Change.org petition. Credit: Getty
A group of Bridgewater and Raritan parents hoping to get the school district to expand kindergarten classes is using a petition on Change.Org to build support.

With 219 signatures currently, the petition is viewed as "the best way to illustrate that the community wants this change and will continue to engage until every option is fully explored."

"Over the past several months, members of our group have voiced their opinions at Board of Education meetings, requested time with school administrators to share ideas, and looked for opportunities to work together," parent Jaime Pear said. "As a group, we decided that a petition was the best way to illustrate that the community wants this change and will continue to engage until every option is fully explored."

When asked at board meetings, the board has generally expressed support for expanding kindergarten but have deferred further study on the subject until after a demographer's report on future enrollment projects for the district is completed and studied by the board. The report is due in February. 

The complete text of the petition states: The children of the Bridgewater-Raritan school district deserve the same educational foundation as their cohorts across the county. We can no longer hide behind the patchwork of solutions parents are desperately trying to stitch together so that their children do not fall behind in their cognitive or social/emotional development. We must explore a public school program that meets the needs of ALL children, for ALL families. Sign this petition to demonstrate your support for full day Kindergarten in the Bridgewater-Raritan school district. Join the over 200 members who have been organizing for this important cause since August 2013 by visiting "Bridgewater-Raritan Parents for Full Day Kindergarten" on Facebook. Our children need true heroes—will you be one?

Gerianne January 21, 2014 at 05:53 PM
and what about parents who choose to actually spend more time with their children? Who wants to be the first to suggest higher property taxes for this.
Joe January 22, 2014 at 12:42 AM
The change is inevitable. The future of all school districts is full day K. Parents who have the option to spend more time with their children are blessed to be able to do so. But the reality in 2014 is that in most households both parents work and a full day K will benefit the child socially as well as the parents financially. And Gerianne, the parents of K students are taxpayers too, not just yourself. It's a longstanding history in NJ as well as the country for the community to pay for the children's education. It's what makes this country exceptional.
Betsy Nunez January 22, 2014 at 07:58 AM
Joe you couldn't have said it any better. Not all parents have that luxury and children's education shouldn't pay the price.
Stacey Friedlander January 22, 2014 at 08:20 AM
Gerianne: But are you in the majority?? How many women and men out there have to find quality half day programs at their own cost because of financial obligations and responsibilites (cannot be stay at home parents). THroughout history, children whose parents put in educational time at home and pay high costs to send to private have always been at the advantage, but it's NOT the majority. Statistics here in NJ indicated quite the opposite. Our educational system, especially at the elementary level lays the key foundations skills that ALL children need but not all can attain EQUALLY because our state does NOT mandate full day K. It's evident in half day and full day programs as there are many who come in prepared based on preschool experiences, and many who have had nothing but day care or not at all. This fight is may not be for YOUR child, it's for all those out there, and there are many in Bridgewater-Raritan, who need equality in education and make our schools even better than they already are. So many families have NO quality care for their children because it's unreachable and unaffordable based on their socio economic status. It's an important issue to support if not for your own child, but for those who need this. Support our district and families for the future of our schools. Simple as that.
algl66 January 22, 2014 at 08:58 AM
As an early education consultant and grandmother I can attest to the gaps in the experiences and educational opportunities missed by those children in a half day program. My grandson is not getting science or much social studies. Equally important is the lack of time to explore learning centers and interact and socialize which are key learning times for these children developmentally. Math and literacy are important but they are just a part of what children should be learning at this time. I am confused by NJ' s support of a longer school day for all other children but not these children who are at the peak of their learning curve!
Jane Whalen January 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM
Who will be paying for the additional teacher & school expenses for full-day kindergarten? The already overburdened taxpayers? Or, will the teachers & school district staff be willing to forgo the extra salary, pension & health care costs for the benefit of our youngsters?
Stacey Friedlander January 22, 2014 at 10:33 AM
Jane - Jane - if you read up on districts who have recently moved to full day K here in Somerset County, the increase in tax per household was less than $25 a year (average). I'd be happy to shell that out! If you come to a BOE meeting to hear discussion over this issue, they can confirm through research that the increased tax is minimal for an overwhelming MAXIMUM result.
Stacey Friedlander January 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM
For those looking for more info please click here: http://www.change.org/petitions/be-the-superheroes-our-children-deserve-make-full-day-kindergarten-a-reality?share_id=TPyTRxjOIF&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition
Gerianne January 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM
I did not realize that this forum was only for those who were in favor of full day Kindergarten. Odd, I thought all were invited to participate. FYI I raised 4 children, born within 5 years of one another. They did not attend pre-school, all were Kindergarten ready and prepared to learn. I chose to be a stay at home Mom. Never had a new car, never had a lawn service company, did what was required to maintain our home such as roofing, plumbing etc., our kids were involved in sports, scouting and church activities as were my husband and I, in fact I was a Cub Scout leader because for a while no one else could volunteer. I volunteered at the elementary school level as a class mother for each of my children and served as a chaperone on many class trips when other parents were working and could not go, what is a" date night"? I didn't have children expecting to have "overnight getaways" Our idea of "date night" was having all 4 in bed by 8:00 pm. All are now independent, college graduates, 2 with advanced degrees, one is a teacher for the developmentally delayed and/or disadvantaged. When my youngest began middle school I did re-enter the work force at a local childcare and learning center, so I have seen things from both sides. As an administrator I spent many evenings waiting for parents who were delayed at work and could not get to their children at the appointed time, and I understood. But frequently those children had been at the center since 7:00 a.m. and they were entitled to the care and attention of their parents, and they did not understand. In closing, I have paid taxes in Bridgewater for far more years than my children have been in the B/R system, who even attended university out of state and paid out of state tuition. So I don't believe that being judgmental should be the focus of this forum, it should be intended to embrace the views of others as equally important. I simply ask each parent to examine their motives.
Gerianne January 22, 2014 at 10:58 AM
Actually, most children in NJ are not required to attend Kindergarten at all, although I think the socialization is important, and encourage the interaction afforded in the Kindergarten setting.
Stacey Friedlander January 22, 2014 at 11:05 AM
Here's a blog post from October that might provide more of a perspective and information: http://bridgewater.patch.com/groups/stacey-friedlanders-blog/p/why-bridgewaterraritan-needs-full-day-kindergarten
JP Bridgewater January 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Absolutely- this forum is a great place to exchange opinions and information. A few things to note: enrollment in the district is predicted to decrease (soon to be released study will provide more info). Additionally, new curriculum standards have now been put in place- they are actually based on a full day schedule, putting kindergarten teachers in an impossible situation. Finally, I would offer this: we are a community. We need to come together to find creative solutions. Let's explore together, to find options that meet the demands of 2014 and beyond while recognizing the needs of all families (those with children and those without).
Stacey Friedlander January 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM
Gerianne why not be party of our discussion and help provide us with important questions and oppostion that might help the discussion? If you're interested, please reach out to me via my Patch Blog contact or FB group! Thanks!
Christen Spirocostas Heiden January 23, 2014 at 07:15 PM
We are talking about the future children that will hopefully be tax paying, successful members our community. The future here is 15-20 years. Don't we owe this to the children to help mold the future doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses who will support many of us in the near future instead of them not being educated and collecting welfare. You can say we are just talking about kindergarten but I assure you it matters. If children are forced to be held to common core standards but are not properly prepared there are statistics to show they can be turned off to performing in school completely. Statements have been made that parents can supplement the learning at home. This devalues the teachers that have gone through years of training. I have been trying to teach my twin preschoolers to read and there are days they just seem frustrated. After speaking to my sister in law who teaches full day kindergarten in NY she made me realize the way I was teaching was not correct which was leading to the frustration. We pay teachers to help guide and teach our children. Not to say that we as parents do not have to be active as well in the learning process but let's not devalue the education that these teachers had to undergo and the value it brings to our children.
Jane Whalen January 26, 2014 at 12:04 PM
Children of kindergarten age should not be subjected to the regimentation of full-day kindergarten. They need naps & down time more than structured school at that age. Also, who will pay for the extra half day or will the teachers & staff provide their services at no cost to us already overburdened taxpayers.
Gerianne January 26, 2014 at 01:15 PM
Jane I agree-we as parents seem to want to live vicariously through our children. We start planning for their colleges even before they are potty trained. We place them in the care of others for more hours of the day then they are with their parents. Children can learn science while on a walk by the brook, gardening and trips to the shore. They can learn math through grocery shopping, cooking and board games played with their family. The library offers films and reading material that they can learn along with their families and by visiting grandparents and cousins. Naps and snuggle time should be foremost requirements, far more important than forming straight lines and drawing within them! Children are little for such a short time and adults for so very long. Politics and pocketbooks should take a back seat to parenting.
JP Bridgewater January 26, 2014 at 01:38 PM
Gerianne, as I stated on another post, I think that's a good point- when it is financially feasible for families to have their children home with a parent, it can be a great option for kids (as an aside, some districts do offer early release programs for parents who are interested). We know, however, that many families do not have that as an option. What has also changed a great deal since you (and I!) were in kindergarten are the curriculum standards. The rigors of the newly implemented Common Core make full day K even more important. Here are some links if you'd like to learn more: Education Week's: The Half Day Kindergarten- Common Core Mismatch http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/12/05/13bornfreund.h32.html?tkn=RLRFe3Suo6y2QsVdPvIkuuXL8IZhsmJNisK4&intc=es NAEYC's: Variation in Children's Experience of Kindergarten and the Common Core http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/CommonCore_KVariation.pdf
Marissa Jay January 26, 2014 at 07:55 PM
So, I'm a little offended by some of the comments and generalizations that have been made, especially if you are a working parent. My kids do not go to school or daycare all hours of the day. I think i have been late in 6 years maybe 3 times. My husband and I make it a point to ensure that we do things with the kids and have family time with them, every single day. We work, because we both want to give the kids a house to live in and health insurance. Unfortunately, we need my health insurance and that's important to our family. Today, it is really hard to afford those things, if both parents do not work. It is not the era of 20 years ago. Second, my husband and I work as a unit. I go to work earlier in the morning, so that I can pick them up earlier in the day. We make sure that we have family time daily and it is not only about what they learn at home, or other places but we encourage both kids to experience life. At the end of the day, we want to ensure they are happy and that they have choices in their lives. So, why do I want full-time kindergarten, because across the board, my kids are losing out on opportunities that are afforded to many other children. My daughter wants to read and unfortunately, I cannot teach her that - I'm not a teacher. We read to her every night, but she wants to learn the words and she wants to learn more. Also, because of not having full day kindergarten, she has to split her time between two schools, she misses her nap and she doesn't eat lunch. We had her in a full day program and it didn't work for her and she was miserable. We moved her mid-year to now two different programs to supplement the full day program she was missing. She loves the new programs, but she doesn't sleep and she doesn't eat anymore. The school is working with her, but it hard when she is shuttling between schools. This discussion should not be, a stay at home vs. working parent discussion. This should be what is best for my kids discussion. Additionally, we say that we do not believe that our kids can handle a full day and I have to say, it depends on the child. There are certain kids that will not benefit and there are other kids who will benefit greatly, but I believe she is an opportunity that should be available to everyone in the district. So, before we go generalizing and putting all parents in buckets, why don't we look at the facts, the links, and see what is best for our children as a whole and give options.
Stacey Friedlander January 26, 2014 at 08:14 PM
JP and Marissa - please know that your concerns are in touch with reality. Unfortunately Jane and Gerianne are not aware of the realities of Kindergarten and from what I'm reading, I bet they haven't a child in the elementary system, especially Kindergarten in a long time. If they did, they would know that many of the things they've mentioned do not exist in the Kindergarten of the new Millenium (rest time etc.). The demands placed on our teachers AND children in the age of the Common Core ARE the reality AND the age of having two working parents is. I think the links that JP posted are crucial for understanding and discussion. I believe her posts were ignored and not read, if they had been, this could be a discussion based more on facts and realities and not the Kndergarten of yesteryear.
M R January 27, 2014 at 03:02 PM
I had a child in half day kindergarten 40 years ago. At that time the economy was such that I could be a stay at home mommy. But still, we had to live on a tight budget in a very modest house with a lower end used car. My parents had a clothing store and helped us immensely by supplying my husband and child with most of their clothing. My child had a wonderful teacher but could have benefited from a full day program. I had been a teacher, so I was able to help her learn to read when she found herself ready and was almost self taught at age 4. Now I would never have been able to stay home even living frugally with the tight economy and outrageous taxes. And my child would have needed more schooling to gain the skills she would need in today's competitive job market. I am sad for today's families that moms do not have that one on one time to spend doing crafts, cooking, shopping, and all those fun and educational activities my child and I shared. But we have to admit to the realities and do what we have to do to provide children with the most effective tools to move into their adult years. Stacey, thank you for opening this forum, and as an older parent, I see where you are coming from. I do not begrudge one penny of my taxes that go to improving our schools. Kudos to parents like you, JP and Marissa for voicing your concerns and hopefully influencing other young parents to be as active advocates for their children.
Stacey Friedlander January 29, 2014 at 08:31 AM
Take the poll: http://bridgewater.patch.com/groups/schools/p/hot-topic-fullday-kindergarten

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