Kindergarten is a Full Time Job

Years ago before we had children, G and I lived in a cool little section of a big city. Our little section was quaint and had a commercial fishing history. It was sweet, cultured, and comfortable, and we lived in a cool beach-front condo. As I walked our two dogs through the neighborhood, I imagined the day we might have a little girl or boy that I would walk to kindergarten to one of the awesome brick buildings right in our neighborhood.

After all, that’s what people did when I was growing up; we went to the school that was in the neighborhood. No applications, no testing, no competition, no nothing. We simply walked down the street, up the hill, and through the front doors of school. Simple.

So I was confused when I learned the local parents in that part of town became stressed out when it came time for their five year olds to enter kindergarten. I chalked it up to big-city elitism and promised myself that if and when I ever had children, I would never enter the fray. My children would simply attend our neighborhood kindergarten and that would be that. Easy.

Flash forward eight years. I now have a daughter set to enter kindergarten. George and I currently live in a different city full of wonderful elementary schools. In fact, we have a reputable, historical, renovated elementary school right in our neighborhood that Eva is set to attend.

All I have to do, come March 1, is sign her up. Done and done.

Or, it would have been done, if our school district hadn’t decided that full day, every day kindergarten was in the best interest of every five-year-old in our city.

Yes, Eva could do all day kindergarten. We’ve done “mommy and me” yoga and gymnastics from the time she was six months old. Eva’s participated in pre-k enrichment programs, ballet, pre-school, and more gymnastics. She loves excitement and is an eager learner.

However, I don’t believe that dropping my young daughter off at school at 9 a.m. and leaving her there all day until 3:30 p.m. five days a week for the next year is a good choice for our own family. I wish our district would offer options.

Don’t get me wrong; I was raised in the public schools and I have no problem with public schools in general. My problem is the district deciding for every family in town that all kindergartners will be better suited for first grade if he or she is in their schools five days a week.

What about afternoons at the park? Down time? Spending time with Dad when he’s home from sea? Ballet? Gymnastics? Art class? Visits to family? Before dinnertime, that is. Without attending a 7 a.m. ballet class, that is.

Come on.

As a result, I’ve spent the last week calling, e-mailing, texting, talking, and researching every single private kindergarten program in our county. I’ve inquired about rates, schedules, instructors, and philosophy. I’ve talked with parents who stand on all different sides of the issue to learn their opinions and hear about their experiences and thoughts.

Stay tuned….


  1. Yeah Jen- you’re heading down the path that ended up leading us to homeschool our kids. (I say us — but it’s really my completely dedicated, partially crazy wife.)

    On the other hand, maybe the government mandating all day kindergarten will be a good thing — just look how well they’ve been handling fisheries management!


    PS -I’ll have some dungie fishing pix for you in a day or two.

    • Oh man, you get my laugh of the day!! Fisheries management! So funny!! Thanks for the good one. I’ve needed to smile after all this kindergarten stress.

      And I can’t WAIT to see the pictures!! You have to send them so I can start posting! G’s had me on a season-long gag order so I haven’t been able to write or post much pertaining to the crab season. So your pictures will be a real treat for everyone!!

    • Thanks, Robin! We looked at one private kindergarten this morning and it was very sweet. And oddly, one of our other local fishing families attends there. The teacher told me they absolutely love it when the daddy shows up to surprise his son at school when he comes home from fishing! That warmed me right up!

  2. You go Mama Bear. I know that Fredy would miss his sister if she went everyday to school. She would also miss out on gymnastics, dance and basketball because as a 5 year old she would be way to tired. Let me know what you decide to do. I will defend you to anyone that tries to convince you to send Eva to all day, everyday Kindergarten. I got your back sista!

  3. I was so exhausted after years of debating, researching and trying things out (As I have already bored you with our story!). The crazy thing, my friends with HS kids say it gets worse…honors programs…not just one, numerous to choose from in one school! Long gone are the days of just AP, at least down in our neck of the woods. Parenting…such a gift, yet so many new roads to stretch us. Hope you find the perfect fit!

    • Tammy, you are so right. Exhausted is a perfect way to describe it. I’ve felt like I’ve been run over by a truck the last two weeks just researching and thinking about it all!

      And just when I thought I had the perfect solution….here comes the district’s announcement that while they are going to all day full day kindergarten next year, parents will have the option of sending their children part time. So then it’s like…what is the part time schedule, are those kids then “set apart” and “different” from the full time kids…etc., etc. Not to mention we’d found a wonderful private option right before the announcement. Back to the drawing board!

      And also…I was not bored at ALL with your feedback and information. It was just what I’d asked and hoped for and I found it extremely helpful and affirming, not to mention that I agreed 100%. Thank you!!!!

  4. All day kindergarten is too much in my opinion. You do what you feel is right for you kids, you won’t regret it. They are FIVE year olds…

    • I know it. They’re five. It’s kindergarten! Eva knows her numbers up to 100, has been singing the alphabet and writing her name since she was two, knows her shapes and colors, loves art and singing, and has always been social. I’m trying to figure out just what it is about kindergarten curriculum that requires five-year-old children to be in school all day every day. So I’ve ordered several books on kindergarten curriculum to educate myself!

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