KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As academic standards get tougher, the days get longer for the youngest students. Kindergarten students will no longer be dismissed at 1:00.
Kindergartners will move this year to full-day class. The change is not just about more study time. The students will also learn new skills and tackle tougher subjects.
Knox County students go back to school on August 14.
Sprucing up the classroom and getting excited about meeting a new group of kindergarten students is routine for veteran teacher Sandra Guinn.
"When I first started teaching kindergarten, our biggest academic goal was just to teach kids their letters," she said. "It was mainly time for socialization."
Guinn teaches at Hardin Valley Elementary School. She says much more is now expected of even the youngest learners.
"We're teaching kindergartners how to read, how to write complete sentences, how to solve problems, math word problems. We need more time," she said.
Hardin Valley Elementary teachers asked administrators to do away with early dismissal.
"That's been kind of frustrating for kindergarten teachers because we've been forced to cram everything into that time frame," Guinn explained.
The work day didn't end early for teachers, though. They stayed past 1:00 to help struggling kindergarten students in an intervention program.
"What the intervention program did was enable students that might face challenges or need a little more time, a slower pace to the day, more one-on-one instruction," explained kindergarten teacher Melissa Church.
Now all students will have more classroom time.
Church said she isn't concerned about any students falling through the cracks.
"I think it will actually enable many of the students that might not have faced as much challenge, enable them to collaborate as teams," she said. "It's often better when a peer can explain, or collaborate learning with you. So I actually think that it will boost their learning abilities."
Principal Tod Evans says the only challenge he anticipates is extra after-school traffic.
"There are some logistics, things that we'll have to deal with, as far as the dismissal, and the time of the dismissal, and dealing with an extra 200 kids in the midst of that dismissal," he said.
The school day begins at 7:45 for Knox County elementary school students and ends at 2:45. This year, that means an extra hour and 45 minutes for those in kindergarten. They won't get a nap, but will be given frequent breaks and a snack.
"It's going to be great for the kids and they'll learn more" Evans added. "They need to learn more because they have a whole lot more to learn with the Common Core coming in."