Tustin Unified to offer full-day kindergarten at every campus

All elementary schools in the Tustin Unified School District will provide a full day of kindergarten to every student beginning this fall.

The district is moving from offering a half-day of kindergarten instruction at its 19 elementary schools to the full-day option.

“Full-day kindergarten is a big step forward for the district and it will greatly benefit our students,” district Deputy Superintendent Kathie Nielsen said in a news release. “Full-day kindergarten will offer a more relaxed atmosphere, opportunities for child-centered creative activities and developing social skills.”

volunteer works with student at desk
A high school volunteer works with a kindergarten student in teacher Nancy Stretz’ class at Jeane Thorman Elementary School.

Across California, a growing number of elementary schools are moving to a full-day for kindergarten students, as research shows that children benefit academically from attending the longer kindergarten program.

Saddleback Valley Unified School District also recently announced it too would provide a full day of kindergarten at all of the district’s schools.

A report by EdSource last year estimated that about 70 percent of California’s elementary schools offer full-day programs, up from 43 percent a decade prior.

State lawmakers in recent years have approved a series of bills that have made it easier for districts to provide full-day kindergarten programs. They include removing the requirement for a waiver from the state to offer a full day, and offering some additional funds to support these programs.

Tustin officials said that extending the day will allow for more time in each of the content areas as well as more time for art and music. It also allows time for students to engage in developmental activities that can be difficult to find time for in a half-day program.

Other advantages include higher achievement for all children, fewer grade retentions, more time spent in individualized instruction and less time in large groups, additional time spent in play and reinforcement of positive social behaviors.

“This is something the community has wanted for some time,” Nielsen added. “It is believed by providing students with a longer day, they will have opportunities to increase their achievement levels and ensure they are best prepared for first grade.”

For enrollment information, call your local elementary school or visit the TUSD Website at www.tustin.k12.ca.us.