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Full-Day Kindergarten: On the Rise

By Kelsey Andeway

This year, schools across the nation continue to extend kindergarten from half-day to full-day. Recent changes in family patterns, education and social development contribute to the growth of full-days. Schools change from half-day to full-day kindergarten to improve a child’s education and help working parents.

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Difference between Full-Day Kindergarten and Half-Day Kindergarten

  • Full-day programs are six hours or more.
  • Half-day programs are about three hours.

Where is the Trend?

  • Only 15 states make kindergarten mandatory.
  • Full-day requirements are different in every state.

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Full-Day Kindergarten: Increasing each Year

“Since 1977, the percentage of kindergartners enrolled in full-day (in contrast to half-day) programs has nearly tripled, increasing from 28 to 77% between 1977 and 2013,” according to Child Trends, a research organization that focuses on children and families in 2015.

Academic Benefits of a Full-Day

Full-day kindergarten helps a child both academically and independently.

The largest advantage is that full-days boost a child’s academic performance from a young age and will help him or her in the future, according to educational magazine, American School and University in 2014.

The longer time frame allows teachers to break-down the material slower.

“You name it, reading, math, social studies, art, reading, writing … I don’t have to rush like a maniac to get it all done,” said Ms. Johnson, Californian kindergarten teacher from The Christian Science Monitor magazine in 2004.

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2015 Statistics of Carpentersville, IL School District, according to Superintendent Fred Heid

  • 30% more time on reading.
  • 46% more time on math.

Studies show that kindergartners have greater test scores in first grade after they attended full-days.

“53% of first-graders in 2013 met or exceeded expectations in reading, and they previously attended half-day kindergarten. By 2015, 68% of first-graders met or exceeded the same expectations, but they attended full-day kindergarten,” according to Chicago Tribune in 2015.  

Children become stronger learners and are able to take more time to comprehend.

“More time in the classroom means more time for high-quality interactions with teachers and peers, which translates to more learning,” said New America political analyst, Abbie Lieberman in 2015.

Moods, Adjustment and Confidence

Studies show that kindergartners who attend full-days are more adjusted than half-day students.

“They [are] more likely to approach the teacher, and they [express] less withdrawal, anger, shyness and blaming behavior than half-day kindergartners,” according to Washington community magazine, Sequim Gazette in 2014.

These behaviors create self-autonomy and help prepare them to enter first grade.

Teaching Techniques

Kindergarteners are given more hands-on opportunities throughout the day instead of completing projects at home.

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According to Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative (ECAP), during full-days, teachers:

  • Encourage social interaction.
  • Have more one-one time with students.
  • Equally balance group vs. individual activities.

Full-Days and Working Parents

  • They can better balance their work and personal schedule.
  • Parents do not have interruption in workday.
  • Financially beneficial, less after-school expenses.

A New York survey showed that half of 1,100 parents said if full-day kindergarten did not exist, they would have to pay for extra care, according to media company, City & State New York in 2016.

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“Full-day kindergarten increased employment among mothers causing the number of female hires to increase by 2 or 3 per 100 women,” said lawyer, Alexandra Harwin from Shattering the Ceiling blog in 2015.

Thinking with a Purpose   

Longer days influence kindergarteners to think creatively and intellectually, which decreases laziness.

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“Full-day programs… ‘crowd out’ other negative activities, meaning if children are in a safe classroom environment, they are not spending that same time doing other things that could be less beneficial to their development,” said Lieberman in 2015.

Safety First

There is an added layer of safety and security for young children, which is necessary in inner-cities.  

Full-days help keep children away from violence on the street.

Differences in Race 

African American kindergartners are more likely to be in full-day programs because they tend to live in poorer areas compared to other children.

“In 2013, 67% of Asian or Pacific Islander kindergartners were in full-day programs, compared with 76% of Hispanic, 78% of white and 81% of black kindergartners,” according to Child Trends in 2015.

Consequences of Full-Day vs. Half-Day

Although full-day kindergarten has benefits, there are disadvantages.

For many states there is a shortage of state funding, according to New Jersey Family magazine in 2016. Schools do not have enough money to hire more teachers or open extra classrooms.

In Chicago suburbs, “The U-46 district spent $9.3 million to add 26 classrooms at three elementary schools, partly to accommodate full-day kindergarten, [and hired] 46 new teachers” according to Daily Herald newspaper in 2016.

However, with full-day kindergarten, schools save money and do not pay for extra buses midday or crossing guards, according to child educator Dianne Rothenberg in 1984.

Parents of full-day kindergartners also notice that their child does not have the energy to attend a full-day compared to a half-day. Many children come home exhausted because they are not able to have naps at school.

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“While I understand the need of students to receive vigorous instruction, I think a kindergartner is too young to be productive in an all-day setting,” said Illinois teacher, Mary Ellen Jordt in 2016.

Why Full-Day Kindergarten continues to grow?  

“The school district I work for looks at full-day kindergarten as opportunity to provide a more robust learning environment for the early childhood learners,” said Illinois teacher, Nancy Montalbano in 2016.

  • Working parents.
  • Full-days increase employment for women.
  • Social and emotional benefits of children.
  • Preparation for advancement in school.

 

Photos

Photo One by: Nick Veronin/Advanced Google Image search

Photo Two by: San José Unified/Advanced Google Image search

Photo Three by: Woodley Wonder Works/Advanced Google Image search

Photo Four by: Jen Cu/Advanced Google Image search

Photo Five by: McGinness/Advanced Google Image search

Photo Six by: Kevin Jarrett/Advanced Google Image search

Photo Seven by: George Hodan/Advanced Google Image search

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.