Opinion

An all-encompassing plan in Saugus

Saugus is on the right track with its decision to explore offering parents all-day kindergarten. School committee members are trying the concept out in discussions with educators that are sure to expand into conversations with parents and teachers. All-day kindergarten is not a revolutionary concept, much less a new one. But it increasingly makes sense to offer a full school day to young children at a time when academic testing and technology are dominating classroom influences.

The days of the school system’s youngest children napping on rugs brought from home and eating snacks until mom picks them up have gone the way of school desk ink wells and discipline administered with rulers.

Modern American school systems immerse children in reading and numeric identification. They engage them in drills designed to make them early-age conversationalists and they build on essential skills many children already mastered in preschool programs.

Introducing all-day kindergarten provides a variety of advantages for educators and parents as well as children. A longer kindergarten school day helps some parents better manage childcare and work responsibilities. A longer day also gives children more time to hone socialization skills and start down the path of reading and number identification.

Saugus’ careful look at all-day kindergarten coincides with a concerted effort by public school leaders to revamp the way town schools are organized. A bold plan outlined by Superintendent Dr. David DeRuosi encompasses new ways of looking at how children are educated in elementary-level and middle-school grades.

Saugus will need state tax dollars to build the kind of new schools DeRuosi is talking about. But parents and local educators can expand the conversation about the merits of allowing students to learn together for an extended number of years.

A good foundation for this socialization and education concept is all-day kindergarten. Learning to love school as a kindergartner sets the stage for a student to expand academic interest and participation through the early teenage years.

In an age of instant communication and instant information, children need to put their best foot forward on the path of education. Saugus educators are taking that suggestion to heart as they craft a plan for revitalizing local schools.

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