Falmouth Kindergarten Will End One Week Early This Year

The last day of school for kindergartners in the Falmouth Public Schools will be Tuesday, June 17, a week before the rest of the grades let out on June 24.

The change was announced in a letter sent home to parents this week.

The reason is that kindergarten teachers and aides need to do their own learning. This includes CPR training, lessons in a new state mandated assessment system, and orientation on the new kindergarten curriculum called “Tools of the Mind” that will be implemented next year.

All that will require five paid professional development days.

Superintendent Bonny L. Gifford said the school considered holding the trainings during the summer, but since they cannot mandate that teachers show up in summer, meeting everyone’s scheduling needs would be very difficult.

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Plus, all the teachers and aides would need to be paid for the extra time.

“Financially, it was going to be ‘Are you kidding?’ ” Dr. Gifford said in a phone interview.

In her letter, Dr. Gifford wrote “It is always a challenge to balance competing demands—we simultaneously yearn for more instructional time for students and more time for professional training for our staff.”

“We recognize and acknowledge that this adjustment may impact your plans for childcare at home and we thank you in advance for your understanding,” the letter also states.

On the phone, Dr. Gifford said that if enough parents call with concerns about arranging for childcare, the school would look into providing some kind of in-school daycare for that final week.

Dr. Gifford said she did consider scheduling substitute teachers for the week, but rejected that option.

June 17 was originally scheduled as the last day of school, but snow days pushed it back to June 24.

Dr. Gifford said the keynote of the Tools of the Mind curriculum is structuring classrooms so children learn to be self-regulating. There is more role-playing and play-based learning, she said. As a result, academic outcomes are better, she said.

The Nauset Public Schools, where Dr. Gifford served as assistant superintendent, implemented Tools of the Mind about five years ago. Students’ “writing was so improved” by the change, she said.

Tools of the Mind is already used in the district’s public preschool program. 

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