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half day vs full day kindergarten


eccentric July 9, 2009

Our school district recently switched from half day to full day KG for the next year. While most working parents were excited, many stay @ home parents protested, and the Principal had to tell S @ H parents that they were in minority!

Are there any reliable studies that show benefits of half vs full day or vice versa?
Which one would you prefer and why?

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healthy11 July 9, 2009

You might want to post your question in the Kindergarten Parents Group at

My son was "a ball of energy" and I knew it would be very difficult for him to stay inside and try to pay attention to a teacher for 6 or 7 hours at a time, so we opted for a half-day kindergarten program. If the schools recognize that young children need frequent breaks, and they provide plenty of opportunity to go outside and run around, I suppose it could be fine, but if the emphasis is strictly on "academics" then I would be disappointed. I think young children can learn a great deal more from seeing/doing, than from having a teacher tell them, or using worksheets.

With my son in a half-day program, we would often spend the other part of the day engaged in fun activities where he'd be learning without even realizing it, like bike riding, walking in the park to identify plants and birds, gardening, cooking, going to museums, etc. I realize that few parents have the time or energy to do that with their children, even if they are "stay-at-home" parents, so between parents who work full-time and those who just let them sit in front of a TV or computer when they are home, I guess that's why more and more schools are providing all-day kindergarten programs.


MagnetMom July 9, 2009


Wow, you hit the nail on the head in regard to my feelings on why parents want full-day kindergarten. I'm one of the not in favor of full day kindergarten because to me it seems like an excuse to avoid paying for a babysitting service. However, parents who've had their kids in day care, then preschool, and then pre-K from their infancy feel like the kids are spinning their wheels if they aren't in something very academic (and full day as soon as possible).

As far as actual data, I don't know of any. In my case I went against everything and put my daughter in full-day kindergarten because the difference in curriculum was that half day still got the same amount of reading and math, leaving little time for anything else. And the full-day kindergarten had the experience that everyone remembers as kindergarten including art, music, games, etc. And my daughter would fall asleep in the car every day on the way home--and she was one of the older kindergarteners.

My son who is 10 years older than his sister was in half-day kindergarten with a for-pay component for the second half of the day, and we tried that for a month and then went back to half day--happily.

As an active mom with plenty of tricks up my sleeve, I do think I can provide as much enrichment as an active kindergartener needs--including play, level-appropriate reading, and other activities.

But school districts like full day kindergarten because they've pushed first grade curriculum into kindergarten. They now have spelling tests. They are nearly all reading before Christmas, and are reading full books by June.

I'd still prefer half-day, but I'm in the minority. And I'm a work-from-home mom who's active in my kids' education, so that puts me in an even smaller minority.


eccentric July 10, 2009

MagnetMom and healthy, I share your opinion on this topic. Again, it comes back to the parents who work full time and would rarher have a fall day than half day school (and that makes sense for them!). I on the other hand stopped working for a while just so I could bring my son home...he was having a hard time even going to the daycare a that time...I think my staying at home did wonders for him!

Whether or not "academically" its advantageous, I believe that a kinder gartner is simply too young to be at school this long a time given that he would probably spend at least 16-24 years of school life anyway! I just don;t think that time makes any difference academically. There are so many arguments to that though and I heard so many at the PTA meeeting...Cheers


oruthanne July 12, 2009

I am a teacher and have taught both half day and full day Kindergarten. It seems to depend on what the child would be doing if they were not in the "other half" of full day Kindergarten. A few would actually benefit from being in an excellent preschool with less intensity, many benefit from having a focused and committed parent at home---not just sitting in front of a TV or playing video games, a few benefit from being at home because they are not developmentally ready for full day Kdgn. However, most children do benefit from Full Day Kindergarten instead of a Half Day session. Why? Because the pace is slower and does include the appropriate movement, art, music, stories, and choice time that most half day sessions do not have time for. Most Full Day Kindergartens teach core academics in the AM and practice and reinforce those skills and concepts in the PM. Having taught an experimental Kindergarten for a University with all accelerated students, it was discovered that even those children need repetition and practice and the result of the study was to continue with diverse classes. However, it is easier to individualize instruction with the freedom a teacher has with the gift of the "other half" of the day that Full Day Kindergarten provides. Most children do not take real naps anymore by Kdgn. age, but many are tired at the end of the day at the beginning of Kindergarten. I have always felt it would be ideal to dismiss Kindergartners an hour earlier than other grades but since that is not practical for many reasons, most teachers slow things down as the afternoon progresses allowing some quiet time, more stories, and enrichment activities especially in science and social studies. Standardized Test scores seem to show a definite benefit to Full Day Kindergarten judging from the test scores. Check out your own school, visit with teachers there, and discuss the quality of your options with other parents.


eccentric July 13, 2009

aruthanne, you are absolutely correct about the quality of time spent at home if the child is in a half day KG. It'll depend upon what that child will do at home after he/she comes back. Parents who want to have a half day are the parents who feel that their children will benefit more if they stay at home with them, as opposed to getting that enrichment at school.


kathwa July 16, 2009

Full day


sad1869 July 16, 2009

so many schools are only half day and while i'm sure it is great for the teachers who only want to work half day, it's hard to guarentee that every child will be ready for first grade with only half day.
I an a kindergarten teacher at a private kindergarten and it is full day. We start class at 8:30 am and go until 3:30 pm. we have a rest time or nap time for those who take naps, and before and after school care for theose parents needing to work a full day. i can't imagine having trhe kids for only half that time as still haveing everyone ready for first grade. My afternoon curriculum is set up so i can have one on one time with each student. The students and parents seem to like the personal attention. Also if you want to cover all subjects math, science, language, social studies, including music and art and dance and theater you need a whole day to do each subject some justice. We also have an hour of playtime during the day and then an hour after 3:30 dismissal.

We also offered 3, 4 or 5 day programs. so those who only wanted part day could have part week instead. That really seemed to work well.


LaShawndra777 July 16, 2009

I am a bit torn on this issue. My son just completed his first year of kindergarten (k3) and his school was a half day Montessori school. He is a late birthday child, July 28th, so he will be 4 entering his second year of kindergarten. This year he will be attending a full day, and I am hoping he is mature enough.

Part of my motivation for sending him to a full day program is because I work full time, and day care bills were killing me! I know we all want what's best for our children, but I could not afford another year of child care expenses. Fortunately the new school he has is an arts school with a great environment for his creativity. I will see how this year treats him, he is not as mature as my daughter. As a benefit to a working parent, all day is great. But if the child is not ready I don't think it is the best thing. Each child is different, and the birth date plays a major role in how much the child can handle.


TArnold1231 July 21, 2009

The school in Taylor, MI has both full days and half days. There is a lottery pull and the children names that were selected will be in all day class while the other children will have half day classes. If you did not want full day, then you don't enter the lottery pull.

I am waiting to see if my son was selected for the full day classes or half. Either will be fine with us because he has a late in the year birthday. He will be 5, 12/31/09 but this is his first year in school.


Rinnie83 July 22, 2009

I am a mother of 2 and in the Military. I was stationed in Alaska and the Kinder there was half day. I didn't like it at all not only because I work all day but because with it being half day I don't think the kids got the attention they needed. Think about it can a teacher really teach 13 kids all subjects in 4 hrs? The kids didn't have a recess and they ate lunch in their class rooms. I maybe got 2 crafts from school that my son did; I remember when i was in Kinder I bought home all kinds of crafts for my mom especially during the holidays it was not like that in this school and honestly i have to say that i am afraid that when he starts first grade he will not be as advanced as the other kids his test scores were average he struggled during most of the school year and we even did activities at home together to help him with reading and math. I have to say that I think Kinder should be all day at every school.

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