The first day of school is always a momentous occasion for kindergartners and their families, but for students in the Bethlehem Central School District this school year was particularly special.
Nearly 300 students across six elementary schools started the district's first full-day kindergarten program on Thursday, Sept. 10, bringing several years of planning to culmination. They started a day after the rest of students, but parents and kindergartners came in on Wednesday for a special orientation.
The kids seemed happy to be here today, and we're certainly thrilled to begin the full-day kindergarten program, said Assistant Superintendent Jody Monroe. "A half-day program for years served the students and community well, but a half-day program is certainly limited in time to the amount you can accomplish."
Kindergartners will have physical education, arts and music added to their curriculum, and will also enjoy more time spent on core programming in math, science and English skills.
Kindergarten teacher Nancy Davis said that she's glad the district has made the move to full-day K, as it will give her more opportunities for instruction during an important period in her students' development.
"You want to go into depth and have time for them to create their own knowledge rather than having us just telling them," said Davis, who has been teaching kindergarten in the district for 13 years.
She'll also have more time to help her students with learning social skills like making friends and resolving conflicts. Once again, she said, it's important they cement good social habits early on.
"This is their first experience in a public school, and you want it to be positive," Davis said.
"I think it's very important that they have the time to socialize and play. Everything isn't crammed into a half day," parent Meg Noonan, whose 5-year-old son, Grady, just started kindergarten, said at a brunch for parents and siblings of kindergartners at Elsmere Elementary on Thursday morning.