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My Turn: Full-day kindergarten in MV is long overdue

The Merrimack Valley School District is contemplating full-day kindergarten, a long overdue concept.

My family, which included three young children, moved back up here from Virginia in 2000. My oldest daughter, who had attended full-day kindergarten there, was starting third grade at Loudon Elementary School, my son would enter kindergarten, and my youngest would attend preschool for more hours than kindergarten ran.

My third-grader was bored; almost everything covered in class had already been gone over back in Virginia. As for my son in half-day kindergarten, I was appalled. He had been in preschool, in Virginia, longer than he would be in kindergarten. In winter the kindergarten program isn’t even 2.5 hours. By the time they get into class, get their winter clothes off and back on at the other end, they’ve really only got two hours of learning time.

Some believe full-day kindergarten is just convenient for working mothers, free child care if you will, but my experience is that my daughter did much better academically. All through her academic career she did well, and I feel it was from that good start with all-day kindergarten.

Our kids are lagging behind nationally in some areas and internationally in all areas. Giving them an earlier start with their academics can only be good.

By the time they are of kindergarten age, most children these days have been in preschool or some kind of organized educational child care setting for years. Being in kindergarten all day would not be that big of a change.

Additionally, consider all that busing around of kids. With fuel prices being what they are, if only two trips a day were done, wouldn’t it save money?

Not to mention the wear and tear on the buses in a rural school district with frost heaves, pot holes and non-paved roads, decreasing trips can only save money, too.

Merrimack Valley has the reputation as a progressive school district. This would be another step toward becoming more so.

I only wish when my kids were kindergarten age it was an option. The teachers my kids had were great, but it was essentially a waste of time for the amount of actual learning time they had.

(Jill Satterfield lives in Loudon.)

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