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Parent Opposes Expanding Kindergarten

Elizabeth Baldwin is "shocked and dismayed" that her pre-schooler will have to spend five full days a week in kindergarten if a proposal by Superintendent Elliott Landon passes on May 17.

Baldwin, a clinical child psychologist who has elementary and pre-school aged children, says that the five full day program is not good for children.  "In my practice, I've seen a rise in anxiety disorders and depression in young people today," she said.  "It's because we are putting children into a pressure cooker and asking them to join the rat race at such an early age.  But it is taking a toll on their social and emotional development and it is not healthy for them.  When do they get unstructured free time and down time with their families?"

In 2007, the BOE approved, after considerable debate,  a plan to move from half day kindergarten to three full days and two half days.  Currently, kindergarten runs from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and Friday, and 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.  The current proposal recommends five full days from from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m..

In a memo to the BOE, Superintendent Elliott Landon outlined his reasoning for expanding kindergarten.  He cites current education research that supports five full days.  In the memo, he writes that “your entire administrative staff, ie central office administrators and elementary school principals concluded, unanimously , that the interests of our students can be best served by expanding” the program.  He also states that other districts like Darien, New Canaan, Easton and Ridgefield (as of next year) all have full day kindergartens.

Baldwin is circulating a petition opposing Landon's proposal that has garnered more than 75 signatures. She is not only bothered by the lengthening of days, but she also questions the late timing and lack of communication to parents about the kindergarten proposal.  "Many people did not know about this proposal until the day of the Board of Ed meeting. Some people still have no clue that this proposal is being discussed or they are learning about it by word of mouth.  There have been no emails or polls sent. It's all being done hush hush."

If the Board does eventually decide to adopt five full days, Baldwin hopes that they'll delay implementation a year, until 2011.  "It's come about so suddenly.  If parents knew about this change earlier they could have planned better to help make their child's transition to kindergarten smooth. "

Baldwin herself is now scrambling to find a pre-K program for her child.

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