Managing Half-Day Kindergarten
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Managing Half-Day Kindergarten
My son will attend Kindergarten this fall at Fairmont Elementary in El Cerrito. I got
wind that he will be assigned to the PM Kindergarten class (starts at 11:20) because
we didn't register him early enough (I know, parenting fail). Unfortunately, my
husband and I both work full time and the complementary childcare program through the
city told us that they may not be offering AM care if there is not enough demand.
(They didn't have it this year for the same reason.) I am REALLY confused as to what
other parents do who are assigned to the PM K class if both parents work full time out
side the home? Anyone out there have the same problem? Are there daycares in the area
who will take care of my Kinder kid in the morning, take him to school, and care for
I am seriously stressed out as to what we will do if he gets final assignment to the
PM class and there is no AM care. The principal implied that maybe some spots my open
up in the AM Kindergarten after the first week but it's not something I can depend on.
Has this happened to anyone else? What did you do?
Are you in the same boat as me this year? If so, could you please please sign up to
get the AM care through the city?
confused PM Kindergarten mom
I was in the exact same situation 2 years ago, and I remember really
flipping out and being super stressed too. I really wish that EC/WCCUSD
would communicate the situation better to parents when they are
registering for K that the availability of the afterschool for K is
dependent of how many K classes they have, and AM K is a better choice
if you want aftercare. Then working parents who intend to use after-care
can mark down ''no preference for AM or PM care, as long as aftercare is
available'', which is basically what I put this year for my 2nd kid who
is entering K this year.
What I did two years ago in your situation is to talk to the principal
to explain how critical it is that my child be switched to the AM K if
there will be no morning ''afterschool''. It sounds like you have
already done that. My experience was that the principal did in fact
switch my daughter to AM K. She told me she couldn't guarantee it (which
of course freaked me out, bc I considered it essential, and should
overrule someone else's ''preference''), but she did tell me there was a
pretty good chance it would happen. And it did. I guess I can give you
no additional comfort, except to commiserate, and encourage you to
continue to work with the principal to explain the critical situation
(and suggest they make this issue clear at registration time to avoid
this hassle in the future!)
another Fairmont parent with incoming K
First I just want to say that I sympathize with your
summer-before-kindergarten anxieties - been there (last year). I think
you're doing all the right things with letting the principal know your
situation, and keep being a squeaky wheel with the City of EC. You may
even want to try to communicate directly with Anthony (the school site
before/aftercare director), if not him, maintain a relationship with the
Rec Dept office. You should also be sure to attend all the kindergarten
playdates going on this summer (starting the 26th) to meet other parents
and find out if there are other folks on the fence about PM-K
beforecare. Or, leads on daycares nearby. It WILL work out! Fairmont is
a good school and once you're settled in, I think your kid will have a
good experience there; ours is happy to be headed into first grade.
Personally I think it's a District failure to even have PM kindergarten
but that's a whole other subject. Make the City of El Cerrito meet your
I am wondering how other working parents handle a short day at kindergarten?
I am thinking about Piedmont in particular, where the kindergarten class is 3 hours!
There is no way to get to work, do some work, and then get back in 3 hours!
Obviously this is designed for SAHMs who then drive their kids around to activities
all afternoon to make up for the shortened school day. This is also WAY shorter of a
day than preschool(!). Do some in Piedmont (or other neighborhoods) send their kids
to private school for two years until the class day catches up?
thanks for the feedback
Take a deep breath. Contact your child's new school. Find out your options and pick the one
that works for you. How did you deal with your child's preschool day? Parents in Piedmont (and
other areas) have a variety of strategies, including use of the school's onsite before- &
after-care, hiring a private nanny, etc. In Piedmont, there is a higher percentage of SAHMs
especially in the younger grades. But not everyone! And I don't know of any kindergartners who
get ''driven around to activities all afternoon.'' Good luck to you.
Been there, done that
If other options are available, I most certainly would not send my child to a kindergarten that
lasted only 3 hours(!). When we were on the market last year, there was a private school that
had a somewhat shortened day -- but still more than 3 hours; nevertheless, we chose not to
send our son to that school in part because of this quirky schedule. We chose another private
school, and kindergarten there is from 8:30-3:00. Our boy had enrichment classes every week =
art, P.E., library, music, computers (certified/trained teacher for each) plus his ''regular''
teacher for the usual reading, writing, math, science, field trips, etc. There is no way he
could have learned all he did in 3 hours, or had the experiences we as a family feel are
central to a kindergarten experience. At all the schools we seriously considered, it was noted
that whether the kids came in reading or not, they would leave kindergarten as strong readers;
their math skills would be above ''common core'' grade level; there would be hands-on science
experiments, group projects, and cross-curriculum tie-ins. The kindergarteners learn to become
a part of the larger school community = assemblies, ''buddies'', holiday fan-fare, spirit days
. . . You can't do this stuff in 3 hours! We may not be able to afford private school through
8th grade -- maybe we'll only make it to 4th or 5th. But I'm so glad we we decided to give our
kid a full-day kindergarten experience at a school fully committed to the emotional and
educational well-being of their youngest learners.
We had the same dilemma and hit upon a fantastic solution: Oakland JCC's after school program!
Our daughter has been extremely happy there for the past 2 1/2 years (she's in 2nd grade now)
and I love that they pick her up at school and bring her to the program so I can stay at work.
Wonderful classes (gardening and then using what they grow for cooking are two favorites),
enthusiastic and warm teachers (who seem to stay for years, I like the low turnover factor) and
a small enough environment that happily doesn't resemble the chaos at public school-based
programs. Kids can choose to be busy or mellow. The physical facility isn't inspiring but it
really doesn't matter (and I usually care about that sort of thing). There are certainly Jewish
aspects (I'm Jewish and like that) but there are plenty of non-Jewish families and the ones
I've talked to think their kids end up learning some things that widen their perspective in
terms of diversity but don't in any way feel excluded. Kids from different school districts go
there (we're in South Berkeley) and parking is easy. Not sure where you are in Piedmont but
it's super close to an on-ramp for 24/13. Feel free to ask the moderator for my email if you
want to chat. You can call the JCC at 595-9222 and talk with Stan Berrin or Yaya Persing (both
are lovely). Kindergarten can be a big transition and the JCC helped make it a calmer and
happier one for our family. Good luck!
Happy Oakland JCC Mom
Many Piedmont kindergarten moms work. You asked if some in Piedmont (or other
neighborhoods) send their kids to private school for two years until the class
day catches up. I have never heard of anyone doing it in Piedmont. Even though
the Kindergarten day is short, there is a wonderful and reasonably priced
before/aftercare program at each school site called Schoolmates. During the
times of day when the older kids are in school, it is just a group of
Kindergarteners together at Schoolmates.
Hello! My daughter will be entering Kindergarten next year
(we are thinking about Fairmont in El Cerrito). She has
been in a full time daycare. It has recently been brought
to my attention that my work hours are not going to work
well with kindergarten 1/2 days! If she goes to morning, I
don't know how I would even pick her up to bring her to
daycare. If she goes to afternoon, she could be in daycare
in the morning, but I don't know how I would get her to
How do others handle this situation?
The City of El Cerrito recreation department provides full
time day care, 7am-6pm, for students at the El Cerrito
elementary schools. Here's the website for more info:
there are a few ways to deal with this. a) nanny/college
student who will pick up your child and take care of them
until you return home. i find wonderful people on
sittercity.com. b) there is in berkeley at least a van that
will pick up your children and deliver them to an
afterschool program. I can't remember the name but I'm sure
you could google it. I actually think I've seen an el
cerrito school van dropping off a child at my son's daycare
in el cerrito c) many daycares will pick up your child after
school and bring them to your house. My son is in Happy
Garden, a wonderfully warm and lovely in-home daycare (it's
chinese immersion) in El Cerrito and I know Eveline picks up
children from school and brings them to her house after
their school ends.
Does your school have an on-campus after (or before) school daycare? Ours
(called Adventure Time) does, and it was well worth checking out. They pick
the kids at the classroom door after school (or would drop them off to
classes if there were any at our school), personally signing them in or out.
provide sports, art, free play, and other activities (e.g. cooking, jigsaw
and homework for the older ones) for the kids, all supervised -- and kids'
choice. At our school the program begins at 7:30 in the morning and runs
6:00 pm. Surely, you are not the only working parent at your school -- most
have some such program.
You may want to look for a daycare that provides
transportation for students attending Fairmont School in
El Cerrito. My friend, Wednesdey Chavis, MA, owns Happy
Lion School and Daycare Center in San Pablo, (510) 233-
3330, http://www.happyliondaycare.com Her daycare center
offers vanpool service for students that attend West
Contra Costa District schools. She also has a Preschool
Program. Wednesdey has a Masters degree in Education and
over 24 years experience in the childcare industry.
Check out photos of the center,
They moved to this new location during the Fall, 2009, so
they have a new, wonderful environment for children. If
you want more information, please call her to schedule a
Does anyone know of public schools offering all-day Kindergaten
schools in either, Berkley, Oakland, Alameda or Albany or perhaps
other communities? My friend in Chicago tells me their school
district has adopted this successfully.
looking at option
I could be wrong about this, as my son doesn't start
kindergarten till next fall, but I'm pretty sure all Oakland
schools have all-day kindergartens. That was my understanding,
and it's mentioned several times in their 2007 Annual Report:
Public School Mom-to-Be
All OUSD public schools have full-day kindergarten. I don't
know about other districts, but this FDK was implemented in
My son is an Oakland Public School kindergartener this year. I
think the entire OUSD is full day kindergarten. Certainly all of
our pre-school and daycare friends are in full day programs at
various OUSD schools.
The Oakland Unified School District mandated several years ago
that all kindergartens be full-day.
Oakland Public School Mama
As I understand it, all kindergartens for schools in Oakland Unified School
currently all-day only. This generally means from around 8:30 to around 2:30
bit by school).
All Berkeley Public Schools have ''all day'' kindergarten. The
exact times the day runs depends on a given school. Some start
and end earlier than others. Kindergarteners end their day one
hour before the upper grades do. Most schools offer after school
care on site, and some of the later starting schools (around 9
am) offer before school care as well. There are also other after
school care programs at city parks, the JCC in Berkeley, to name
Oakland, I believe, now has ''full day'' kindergarten now at all
Albany is still on half days. There are before and after care
programs on site at some schools and also through the Albany YMCA
How do parents and children who have had full-time
daycare/preschool cope with the transition to a short
Our daughter will start kindergarten in Fall 2005, when she will
be 5.5 years old (Feb. birthday). Since she was six months old,
she has been in daycare and now preschool from about 8:30 am to
5:30 pm 5 days per week. In fact, by the time she starts
kindergarten, she will have had three years of full-time
Montessori preschool. This schedule has worked out very well
for our family.
We live in Albany and my understanding is that kindergarten here
is only three hours per day. I'm having trouble dealing with
the idea that our daughter will spend more time in some sort of
before- and/or after-school program than she will in actual
school. This seems like a schedule that's better suited for
families with at least one parent working less than full-time
outside the home. (I'm not blaming the schools, by the way -- I
understand that they are short of money and that there may be
other good reasons for a short kindergarten day.)
How do kids who come from full-time, fairly structured preschool
do in a combination of kindergarten and before/after school
programs? Some of the private schools seem to have longer
kindergarten days plus on-site after-school care -- did this
schedule factor into anyone's decision to choose private school
over public, and if so, are you happy with that decision? Is
there any reason why a shorter kindergarten day might be better
even for a ''full-time'' kid?
I will greatly appreciate any thoughts on this. BTW, changing
our work schedules is not an option.
worried mom of a full-time preschooler
We are well into the kindergarten year at our local public
school and the short day issue has been our number one problem.
My daughter had been in three full days of daycare since six
months old. She loves kindergarten (AM until 11:40) and her
teacher. She is thriving but the afternoons are long for all of
us. I decided to lower my hours to pick her up myself. It's a
lot of juggling and has made it hard to meet other moms since I
have always worked. The on-site daycare was not going to work
out because I didn't want my tiny little kindergartner spending
all of those hours with all of those big kids. Know this, the
days don't get much longer because in first grade through third
grade school is out at 1:50 and in fourth and fifth I think it
is 3:00pm. Count on a daycare bill for many years to come and
use the quality of it as a factor as well to determine if you
go the public school route.
I'm so glad you asked this--I'm struggling with exactly the same
question. (My son was born 4/00.) I spoke to someone in the
before/aftercare program for our districted school and was not
impressed and, like you, have reservations about my son spending
more time there than in K.
My (private) daycare feeds into its private K-8 school. Two of
the teachers I like have been transferred there already, and the
price is the same as I'm paying now. Also, I can use my Cafeteria
125 plan to pay for the first $5k in cost. I'm strongly leaning
toward doing this for K.
OTOH, I do want to support my local school district, get to know
the school, have him know his future classmates, and support
public school. I sure wish it were set up better for families
where parents work FT outside the home. Frustrating.
Jennie in Alameda
Thank you so much for your question. My daughter and I are in
about the same situation (in El Cerrito) and I am looking very
forward to the responses.
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