By Makenzie O'Keefe

(CBS4) – As students in Jefferson County head back to the classroom, one of the biggest changes families will notice this school year is tuition-free full day kindergarten. The new legislation was passed by Colorado lawmakers in April. Before then, students had the option to attend half day kindergarten for free or pay for full day.

In Jefferson County, school district officials say providing free full day kindergarten can save families close to $3,000 a year in tuition.

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“It’s a big relief for a lot of families,” explained Elizabeth Smith, a kindergarten teacher at Stober Elementary School. “They can just not worry about where the money will come from or what they are going to do for their kids, which is a huge benefit this year for a lot of our families.”

Smith has been a kindergarten teacher for 22 years. She told CBS4 she thinks full day kindergarten is greatly beneficial to students’ growth.

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“What we expect kindergartners and kids to do in school now is just so much different than 20 years ago,” she explained. “In full day, they are not rushed. They have time to play, get to know each other and get to know the school.”

If parents feel as though their child isn’t ready for full day kindergarten, they can opt for a half day opportunities.

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Jefferson County School District said another big change this school year is the end of transitioning 6th grade from elementary into middle schools.

Makenzie O'Keefe