TANGLEWOOD, Calif. - The first day at Arellanes Elementary School marked the start of a new pilot class for Santa Maria-Bonita School District.
All 46 students in the Tanglewood school's two kindergarten classes will go to school for a full-day, instead of a half-day schedule.
"They'll come 7:45 a.m. until 2:10 p.m., just like every other student," said principal Ron Smith.
Across the district, all other kindergarten students will attend class for a half-day schedule that lasts 3 1/2 hours.
It's the schedule kindergarten students in the district have always used, so the additional time at Arellanes is a big change.
"They're going to be doubling the amount of time for instructional minutes that they usually get in a half-day kinder class," said teacher Maria Miramontes. "They'll be more exposed to peer interactions, a little more time for language arts and math, so they're getting extra time to learn what they need to learn for their grade level."
Smith said students will benefit academically from the longer classroom time.
"The research is pretty clear that the kids are going to be more successful," said Smith. "We'll have more time. We'll be able to slow things down if we need to, re-teach if need to."
Miramontes is entering her second year at Arellanes Elementary. She said she's thrilled the school has been chosen to be the first in the district to host the longer classes.
She added a significant impact will be added play time for children.
"Kids learn while they're playing," said Miramontes. "We make learning fun. We have the time to be able to make learning fun, rather than drilling them with paper and pencil things. We're going games. We're going more interactions, more hands-on learning, which takes more time and unfortunately, with the half-day kinder, there isn't enough time to incorporate those fun activities, which now we have the time to do."
The hope is the pilot classes will be so successful, other schools with the Santa Maria-Bonita School District will also add full-day kindergarten schedules.
"I think that would be great if we could this as a model to carry it and push it and develop it a little further," said Smith.