The most common answer I get from former preschool parents when I ask them “How’s Kindergarten going?” is “Well, adjusting to a full day of school has been really hard…”.
I can only imagine how exhausting it can feel for a 5 year old to be engaged in a classroom full of up to 30 other students for almost 8 hours. We are already asking so much of their growing brains and bodies at this age, and a full day of school is just another thing to add to the list. While we continue to advocate for more play-based learning in Kindergarten as well as more time to engage the whole body during recess and use of the Applied Arts in the classroom, going back to the days of half day Kindergarten doesn’t seem likely in the near future.
Luckily there is plenty we can do to help ease this transition. Last year, we started offering a full day option for the students in our 3-5 year old Arts Integrated Preschool. Students can get acclimated to being away from home for a full school day in the safe, caring and creative environment they are used to at Bubbles.
What does a full day schedule consist of?
Students enjoy lunch, rest time, afternoon play time including recess on the nature playground, snack and an afternoon arts enrichment class each day.
My child doesn’t nap. Does full day require a nap?
A rest period is required as per the Illinois Licensing Standards, but they really do enjoy nap time! More than half of our current full day students came in with the label of “non-napper” at home, but were soon snoozing away on their own cot for more than a full hour at school. And those that can’t be coaxed into sleep, rest on their cot for about an hour, and then can play quietly in the classroom until it’s time to head to recess or have afternoon snack.
What are the benefits of full day preschool?
SOCIAL SKILLS: Our full day students reap the important benefit of having much more time in their day for building social skills and meaningful friendships with their classmates. There is such a sense of camaraderie that develops between preschoolers who get to eat lunch together, take a nap at the same time, and who get to experience the fun of afternoon enrichment classes.
EXTRA TIME TO EXPLORE: Each day, there is so much hubbub around what we’ll do in afternoon arts enrichment time! It’s so exciting to have another full hour of creativity and fun tacked on to the end of our day together.
A NEW CHALLENGE: If your child has mastered the preschool day and you’re ready for the next step in their school journey, adding these important extra hours to their day is the perfect new challenge. And it’s not just for our four year olds who are headed to Kindergarten next year! Because so much of what we do at Bubbles is completely individualized, we are able to make sure that even our youngest three year olds are able to have fun and feel successful during their full day at school. “Do I get to stay for lunch today?”, and “Do I get to stay all day at school today?!” are questions we get from so many preschoolers every day, and we love when we get to tell them “Yes!”
MORE TIME FOR YOU: As these kiddos embark on their school journeys, there’s going to be more and more time where they are away from you, and while this can feel bittersweet, a full day at preschool can mean more time for Mom, Dad or Nanny to run errands, get things done around the house, or give siblings more one-on-one attention. And if you work from home or are planning to return to work soon, a few hours in the afternoon to get a jumpstart on things can be priceless! Trust us, the afternoon hours really do fly by.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arts Integrated Preschool check out the links below, or schedule a tour with us!
Samantha Perry is the Director of Bubbles Academy’s Arts-Integrated Preschool Program. She is also the recipient of the Harris Foundation’s Scholarship for Excellence in Leadership and received her Master of Science in Child Development with a specialization in Administration at Erikson Institute. The Harris Excellence Scholarships are awarded annually to a select number of students with excellent academic credentials and a demonstrated commitment to the field of early childhood.
Sam is grateful for the opportunity to use both her theatrical expertise, and broad knowledge of needs of young children at Bubbles Academy’s arts-integrated preschool program. As an educator, Sam strives to inspire confidence, independence, curiosity and creativity in each of her students every day.