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Full-day kindergarten program expanding statewide after additional funding

Posted at 9:45 PM, Aug 17, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Full-day kindergarten is something Granite School District kindergarten teacher, Janeen Johnson, and Principal, Kim Babka, say can change the trajectory of a child's education.

"In all-day kindergarten, we're able to target each individual lever with small group instruction, whereas, in half-day kindergarten it's really just whole group instruction we're not able to address each individual child's need," Johnson said.

"Early literacy and early numeracy is the biggest thing we can do to make sure students are ready for upper grades," Babka said. "High school we're going to see a difference, kids coming in this year are going to be stronger throughout their whole academic performance and careers."

To accommodate more full-day kindergarten classes districts like Granite have invested in classrooms, supplies, and teachers to give students the best education possible.

"We've been ready for a while so when the funding came through, we'd be prepared to do it, we're preparing our teachers throughout the year with training so those moving from the half day to the full day are better prepared for that," said Granite School District Kindergarten Specialist, Jennifer Millett.

Johnson said she actually thinks it's harder to prepare for a half-day class.

"You have to cram everything in and hope that they have enough time to teach them everything that they need to know."

Principal Babka says state-funded full-day kindergarten can give students an opportunity that before there was only funding for in select areas.

"The whole purpose of, back in the day it was called optional extended day, was to provide a full day environment for students who are at risk," Babka said. "Having this is even more robust I guess because not only our at-risk populations but are working parents who might not have the demographics of at risk, can still make a years' worth of growth"

So as teachers, parents, and students look to make the adjustment to full-day Kindergarten, Mrs. Johnson has a quick lesson.

"Be patient and trust the process, don't be afraid to try new things and see what works and doesn't work," Johnson said.