More Time in the Classroom: Watertown Implements All Day Kindergarten

WATERTOWN, S.D.- Kindergarteners in Watertown are now spending more time in the classroom.

The Watertown School District is now implementing all day kindergarten.

It’s a move school officials say will better prepare the students for their schooling careers.

“I think our kids are loving it, it’s been great. We get to know them so much better as individuals and where they’re at academically.”

Kalyssa Hanson has been teaching kindergarten for five years.

However this school year is different.

“We are so excited we started full day kindergarten for the first time ever in Watertown,” she said.

Rather than only having her students for three hours a day, she now has them in the classroom all day.

“So just having a full day and being able to dive deeper into those standards and making sure they’re understanding everything before they move on to the next grade level is very beneficial to them.”

It’s a change the district has been mulling for some time.

“In a half day kindergarten you have the curriculum but you’re pushing really hard for curriculum. But in a full day setting it gives you the time to really situate. Get in, roll your sleeves up and live the curriculum,” said Roosevelt Principal Gregg DeSpiegler.

It’s a move made possible by shifting grades within the district.

Fifth and sixth graders have moved to the Watertown Intermediate School, opening up more classroom space at the elementary schools.

“That transition really provided the opportunity to really consider this and bring it to life in every building,” said DeSpeigler

The extra classroom time is allowing teachers to broaden their curriculum.

“We can get into more of the standards a little deeper, do a little more of the social studies and science. I know that last year we were so short of time so we can do little bit more of those,” said Kindergarten teacher Tonia Vachal.

It’s also giving students new things to learn.

“It helps them get to know their friends more and social skills that they definitely need to know in kindergarten,” said Vachal.

Principal DeSpiegler says some reading teachers in the district transitioned into new roles to teach kindergarten.

School officials say the changes will better prepare kindergarteners for the first grade.