This year Spokane Public School's youngest learners spent much more time in the classroom. In just a few weeks the district's first year of full-day kindergarten will be over.
Before, 15 of the district's elementary schools had all-day kindergarten. Now, all 34 do.
KXLY visited with kindergarten teacher Beth Calkin at Franklin Elementary as she geared up for the move to full-day. On Wednesday we went back in her classroom to see the progress made with her kids.
"They have come a long, long way," Calkin said.
The kids in her class are almost ready to jump to first grade, but you might think they're already in first grade judging by their progress this year.
"The most exciting thing for me is watching them read and I have some great readers in this class. Some of them came in recognizing a few sight words, but a lot of them came in not even having their letters and sounds connected," said Calkin.
Going from half day to full day was a big change. The school day more than doubled for kindergartens. It also came at a cost of $3 Million since the district had to hire 20 new teachers.
"It was definitely a challenge at the beginning of the year for those little five-year-olds to make it all the way through the day but they have totally risen to the occasion," said Calkin.
These kids are just five and six years old but they're ahead of the curve.
"And now I am smarter," said kindergartner Daishawn Canton.
Kindergarten is now about much more than learning the ABCs and 123s. It's about giving these kids the tools they need to succeed in school.
"Now that we are moving to the common core it has upped the ante a little bit so it's given us the opportunity to really lay a solid foundation with those kindergarteners to make sure they have those skills in first grade and hit the ground running," said Calkin.
While Spokane schools have all migrated to all day kindergarten, Central Valley School District has a mix of full and half day. The district wants to move to all full-day kindergarten but right now they can't because of spacing and budget issues. Mead School District has one elementary school with all-day kindergarten while the rest of the schools have half-day kindergarten.