Change in policy and new protocols: Kindergarten Entrance Age
Several members of the community expressed concern regarding the enrollment of students into kindergarten who may be age eligible for grade one and have requested that the Hingham School Committee revise the district’s policy and/or practice to institute some form of process to ensure these students who may be age eligible for grade one have been granted some kind of formal approval to delay entrance into kindergarten.
The district has examined student enrollment data for all students currently enrolled in grades K-5 this school year , met with a family who formally expressed its concern and made the formal request for a policy change to the district, and hosted two community forums on November 13th & 15th to seek input from Hingham parents of preschool aged children on this request. There has been a policy change and new protocols.
The Options: Half and Full Day Programs
The half-day program (3 hours, 5 minutes) is 2.5 hours longer per week than the prior part-day program. Children participate in “morning meeting” and community building activities each day to build their classroom community. They are provided with daily mathematics and literacy instruction in both whole-class and small-group settings, where there is support from teachers, paraeducators, and parent volunteers, as well as opportunities for dramatic and free-play. Children also receive Tiered Reading Instruction (more individualized literacy learning activities) for 30 minutes/day. Because the HPS half-day program is imbedded in the full day program, all of the play equipment, learning resources, iPads, and other technology that the full day students enjoy are available to the half-day students as well. All kindergarten children enjoy a morning snack and social time with their classroom peers and have recess on the playground with children from the other kindergarten sections. Half-day Kindergarten students finish their day at the beginning of the lunch period. All students in Kindergarten have the chance to attend school-wide activities, school community events and special celebrations multiple times throughout the year.
In addition to the above activities, students participating in the full-day kindergarten program (6 hours, 10 minutes) enjoy lunch in the cafeteria and have a second recess opportunity with the rest of the grade level. In the afternoon, full-day K students have the opportunity to explore science concepts and social studies themes, as well as to participate in Buddy Centers. They may choose to engage in activities such as building with blocks and Legos, dramatic play in the house area, free art creation with various materials, exploring projects or Apps on the iPads, or listening to books on tape/CD. Full-day K students will have one special subject each day. K Specials include Art, Music, Library, Spanish, Computer Science, and Physical Education.
Length of Day and Academics
Hingham Public Schools believe that children learn and develop best in an environment that provides for their physical, social, and emotional development as well as for their acquisition of academic skills and understandings and habits of mind that will prepare them for grade 1 and beyond. The additional time that a full-day allows provides greater opportunities for children to explore and assimilate their learning and greater opportunities for the application and practice of knowledge and skills.
It is not unusual for parents to wonder about their own child’s readiness for school and the full day. Educators at your child’s school would be happy to discuss such concerns with parents and to share their perspectives and experiences on the topic.
A related but important fact is that nearly 64% of HPS kindergarten students enter kindergarten already having participated in two or more years of a preschool experience (exclusive of a home day care option); in some cases those programs are much longer than either the current half or even full day offerings. In a fall 2014 survey there were only 7 children of the 246 then kindergarten students who had no prior school experience. Since a long day in a structured setting is already a reality for most children, we need to focus more on what we can do to soften the pace of the day for our youngest children. That is a program priority.
Kindergarten Orientation evenings for parents are usually scheduled in early May at each school. Further, a special bus orientation for students will be scheduled at each school later in the spring. Parents will be notified of the dates and times for their child.
The start of school for grades 1-12 in Hingham is generally the Tuesday after Labor Day. For Kindergarten, the first school day is usually the same week, on Thursday. Kindergarten children and their parents will be invited to visit their classrooms at specified times on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week to meet with the teacher and become familiar with their new school.
Parents are encouraged to check this page on a regular basis.
Of course we don’t know until the registration period ends each spring exactly how many Kindergarten children will enroll in the HPS, or for which program or building. Certainly our goal is for 20 or fewer children in each Kindergarten section, with two adults (the teacher and a full time paraeducator) in each classroom. We are fortunate in Hingham to have 16 purpose-designed Kindergarten classrooms, four in each building. All four of the elementary schools have similar learning facilities including art and music spaces, library and computer facilities, small group and specialized learning areas, and a gym and cafetorium.
Class Assignments and Provisions for Special Needs Services and Other Student Support
Building educators make the final classroom assignments in each building. A variety of factors and sources of information may be taken into consideration. This includes information provided by parents, guidance from Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams and education specialists, and knowledge of the child’s prior school experiences. As well, assignments reflect the needs of the school in terms of balance in gender, learning styles, and need for access to services and resources.
An intensive Kindegarten- Grade 2 Program is available at East School for children whose needs require higher levels of support.
Building-based special education teachers, tutors, and paraeducators provide student support and specialized instruction; and there is access to Occupational Therapy / Physical Therapy services and speech/ language instruction, as required.
A psychologist/team chair and an adjustment counselor (both full time) are assigned to each building.
Perhaps the best way to summarize how specialized services are delivered at the kindergarten level would be to compare it with what occurs at the other elementary grades. Some children need more support and specialized services than others; those services are delivered in a variety of ways, mostly within the regular classroom structure along with their typically developing peers, but sometimes outside the classroom, either individually or in small groups.
Special Needs Services Kindergarten contacts:
The Hingham Public School Nurses are essential members of the educational team. Their mission is to foster the growth, development and educational achievement of all students by promoting health and wellness, in a safe and supportive environment. They are committed to meeting the health needs of individual students and through collaboration with public and private agencies and health care providers. They advocate for students, their families and the school community.
Most kindergarten students will travel by bus to and from district schools, along with their siblings.
Midday transportation home will be provided for half-day students.
Walkers in each building are dismissed separately from the students who are bused.
Information about building-specific school hours and arrival and dismissal routines will be available to parents prior to the start of school. As well, the bus schedule is posted in the local press and on the school website just prior to the start of school.
Any special arrangements for children with disabilities should be discussed as part of the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) review process.
As with the other grades, kindergarten children may bring their own lunches or purchase lunch each day through the Hingham Public Schools Food Services program. Specific details about the latter option will be provided as the start of the school year approaches.
Kids in Action (KIA) and Child Care
Before and after school care is available through the Hingham Public Schools Kids in Action Program (KIA). This is a high quality, fee-based service that operates in a couple of schools. Full day children are transported between the program site and their district school at either end of the day. There is not a KIA “wraparound” component for half-day Kindergarten students. An informational letter is included in the Kindergarten registration packet.
The half-day kindergarten option (a three-hour and 5 minute morning program) is free.
The full day (regular length school day) program is supported by parent-paid tuitions. The Hingham School Committee has approved the tuition scale for 2019-2020; it is an income-based sliding scale with a maximum tuition of $3,750. Depending upon documented family income and family size, waived and reduced tuitions are possible.
For families with more than one child in kindergarten, the family pays the full assessed tuition for the first child, using the sliding fee scale. The family pays ½ of the assessed tuition for the second child, and ¼ of the assessed tuition for the third child.
For children with an existing Individualized Education Program (IEP), there is no charge for the full day program. Complete information about tuitions and the payment process is included as part of the kindergarten registration process. As well, Central Office and individual school building office staff welcome parents’ financial queries and other individual questions.
1000 Book Clubs
The mission of the 1000 Book Club Program is to provide quality literature to preschoolers and kindergartners while fostering a connection between home and school. The 1000 Book Club Program is a reading program designed for preschoolers, kindergartners and their families.
James M. LaBillois, Ed. D.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools
781-741-1500 /ext. 2