Full-day kindergarten clearly has an edge over part-day kindergarten in building literacy and math skills, according to numerous studies. The difference is estimated to be similar to one extra month of schooling. Nevertheless, by third grade, kids who attend part time kinder seem to catch up to their full-time kinder peers.
Also, research is mixed on whether full-day kindergarten is beneficial to social and emotional development.
Full-day kinder may improve social and emotional development
Less anger, shyness and blaming in full day kinder according to large study
After comparing similar half-day and full-day programs in a statewide longitudinal study, Cryan et al. found that full-day kindergartners exhibited more independent learning, classroom involvement, productivity in work with peers, and reflectiveness than half-day kindergartners. They were also more likely to approach the teacher and they expressed less withdrawal, anger, shyness, and blaming behavior than half-day kindergartners. In general, children in full-day programs exhibited more positive behaviors than did pupils in half-day or alternate-day programs.
More social interactions and small group activities in full day kinder, no difference in fatigue, according to large study
The sample consisted of six full-day schools matched with half-day schools on geographic location, school size, student norm-referenced data, and socioeconomic status of patrons. The findings revealed the following: (1) greater utilization of small group activities by the full-day programs; (2) no significant difference in the amount of fatigue experienced by full-day and half-day students; (3) greater number of social interactions was experienced by full-day students; (4) full-day students outperformed half-day students on the majority of the Language Arts criteria and a few of the criteria used to measure mathematics skills; (5) full-day students outperformed half-day students on every criterion measured by norm-referenced achievement test; (6) overall satisfaction was higher for parents of children attending full-day and extended day programs (they believed that their children had a better chance for success in first grade over the half-day students); and (7) school attendance of full-day students was more regular than for other students.
Less inappropriate behaviors seen in full-day kinder
Our research question was whether the teachers in the full-day classes would rate their students as displaying fewer inappropriate behaviors than teachers in the half-day program. There are eight facets of student behavior in the checklist: follows classroom /school rules, accepts responsibility for own actions, works well independently, works and plays well with others, uses time wisely, uses self-discipline, cares for property and materials, participates in class activities. These indicators were all on a 0-3 point scale in which a higher score represented better behavior. Summing the scores for all eight indicators would result in a possible highest score of 24. The gains for English-speaking (1 point vs 0) and Spanish-speaking groups (4 points vs 3) indicate that full-day students in both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking classes made greater gains than their half-day peers.
More self-confidence, independence and cooperation in full day kinder
Huntington Beach City School District in southern California offered an experimental full-day instructional program for 60 kindergarten students. Instructional time in two experimental full-day classrooms was increased from 180 to 270 minutes. This study examines the processes and outcomes of the full-day programs and contrasts them with those of traditional classrooms at two other district schools. Program dimensions studied included acquisition of skills and knowledge in reading, mathematics, and social and environmental science; allocated and engaged learning time; incidence of fatigue; classroom organizational patterns; teacher expectations; and attitudes of students, parents, and teachers toward the program. Findings provided evidence that the extended-day program gives 5-year-olds a measurable advantage in acquisition of skills and knowledge; enhances self-confidence, independence, and cooperation; and illustrates to the community the district administration’s intention to strengthen the elementary school curriculum.
Full-day kindergarten may damage social and emotional development
Less self-control and worse interpersonal skills, more behavior problems with full-day kinder in large study
We found that attending a full‐day kindergarten was unrelated to reading performance. After controlling for nonacademic readiness at kindergarten, children who had attended a full‐day program at kindergarten showed poorer mathematics performance in fifth grade than did children who had attended a part‐day kindergarten program. Attendance in a full‐day kindergarten program was negatively associated with the development of nonacademic school readiness skills. Children who participated in a full‐day kindergarten program demonstrated poorer dispositions toward learning, lower self‐control, and worse interpersonal skills (the child’s skill in forming and maintaining friendships, getting along with people who are different, comforting or helping other children, expressing feelings, ideas and opinions in positive ways, and showing sensitivity to the feelings of others) than children in part‐day programs. Children in full‐day programs also showed greater tendency to engage in externalizing behaviors (measured by a scale indication acting‐out behaviors such as getting angry, arguing, fighting etc.) and internalizing behaviors (measured by a scale indicating presence of anxiety, loneliness, low self‐esteem, and sadness) than children in part‐day programs. With the exception of class size, few kindergarten program features were related to nonacademic readiness skills. Larger class size was positively associated with attitudes toward learning, self control, and interpersonal skills, but negatively related to problematic externalizing behaviors. The mechanism by which larger classes may promote the development of these skills is unknown, but perhaps the opportunity to interact with a greater number of peers is key. Instead, positive home background factors such as higher income and higher parental involvement with the school, were positively associated with all five dimensions of nonacademic school readiness skills.
Overall class behavior worse in full-day kinder, individual behavior unrelated, according to large study
Data for the study comprised a national sample of kindergarten students, their teachers and schools, from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, U.S. Department of Education. Measures of engagement were the teachers’ overall ratings of classroom behavior and their ratings of individual students on academic and social engagement measures. Ratings of class behavior were related significantly to class scheduling (students in full-day kindergartens rated the poorest) and to class size (students in small classes rated as better behaved than those in large classes). Ratings of student behavior were not consistently related to class scheduling or to class size. No behavior rating was significantly related to the presence of a teacher aide: this finding adds to a plethora of negative results regarding classroom aides.
More negative behaviors with full-day kindergarten
Subjects included 47 children attending all-day kindergarten, 56 children attending alternate day kindergarten, and 44 children attending half-day kindergarten. Analysis of covariance showed the all-day kindergarten group scored significantly higher in reading, with no significant differences in math and writing. Multivariate analysis of covariance for the 14 subscales of classroom social behaviors showed significant differences between groups, with the half-day children exhibiting higher scores on classroom behaviors that facilitate learning and lower scores on negative behaviors.
Full-day kinder may have mixed or no effect on social and emotional development
More confidence and social skills in full-day kinder but also more behavior problems and negativity towards school, according to meta-analysis
A meta-analysis found that attending full-day (or all-day) kindergarten had a positive association with academic achievement (compared to half-day kindergarten) equal to about one quarter standard deviation at the end of the kindergarten year. But the association disappeared by third grade. Social development measures revealed mixed results. Evidence regarding child independence was inconclusive. Evidence was suggestive of a small positive association between full-day kindergarten and attendance and a more substantial positive association with the child’s self-confidence and ability to work and play with others. However, children may not have as positive an attitude toward school in full-day versus half-day kindergarten and may experience more behavior problems.
No difference on social or emotional development with full-day kinder, according to review
The review indicates that the effect of both full- and extended-day kindergarten on basic academic skills is positive. Research on instructional time is suggestive but inconclusive. Although quantitative evidence shows no differences regarding effects on social, emotional, and developmental factors, a range of anecdotal accounts of the benefit of full-day exists. Staff and parent reactions to full-day kindergarten have been highly favorable, although attitudes depend on direct exposure. The research on student attendance is inconclusive regarding absentee rates, but preliminary evidence shows no difference in weekly patterns. Findings pertaining to special education referrals are conflicting, and grade retentions favor full-day.
Maturity level and confidence not affected by full-day kinder
This paper employs a large representative sample of Baltimore first graders to examine effects of the amount of children’s kindergarten experience on their first-grade performance. More kindergarten leads to some early positive effects on cognitive status. There are some year-end effects of more kindergarten on boys’ reading marks, but no lasting effects on cognitive scores. More kindergarten also leads to fewer days’ absence in first grade. More kindergarten experience does not affect their personal maturity as estimated by their teachers, their expectations for their own performance, or their parents’ expectations for them. It therefore appears that effects of more kindergarten are attributable not to “socializing” children for first grade but to improving their cognitive status.
Full-day kindergarten improves academic outcomes
Greater academic achievement with full-day kinder, metaanalysis finds
The effects of full-day kindergarten on student achievement have been ambiguous. Some studies found beneficial effects of full-day kindergarten on student achievement as opposed to half-day kindergarten; others found no difference. This metaanalysis found that, overall, students who attended full-day kindergarten manifested significantly greater achievement than half-day attendees.
Learning gains are equal to a month of additional schooling with full-day kinder, according to large study
A new national study provides some of the strongest evidence to date to support what many educators and parents of young children already believe, children learn more in full-day kindergarten programs than they do in half-day programs. The findings are based on federal data from a nationally representative sample of 8,000 children in public kindergarten programs. The results show that, on average, the learning gains that pupils make in full-day programs translate to about a month of additional schooling over the course of a school year.
More improvements in literacy and math with full-day kinder, according to large study
We address questions with a nationally representative sample of over 8,000 kindergartners and 500 U.S. public schools that participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort. More than half of kindergartners experience full‐day programs, which are most commonly available to less‐advantaged children. Using multilevel (HLM) methods, we show that children who attend schools that offer full‐day programs learn more in literacy and mathematics than their half‐day counterparts.
More child initiated activities in full-day kinder and more academic progress
A comprehensive evaluation of a newly-implemented full-day kindergarten program was carried out over a 2-year period. When compared with children in half-day kindergarten classrooms, children in full-day classrooms spent more time (in absolute and relative terms) engaged in child-initiated activities (especially learning centers), more time in teacher-directed individual work, and relatively less time in teacher-directed large groups. Parents of full-day children expressed higher levels of satisfaction with program schedule and curriculum, citing benefits similar to those expressed by teachers: more flexibility; more time for child-initiated, in-depth, and creative activities; and less stress and frustration. Kindergarten report card progress and readiness for first grade were rated significantly higher for full-day children.
Only mathematics skills were significantly improved with full-day kindergarten
This study examined differences between 326 students enrolled in a full-day kindergarten program and 311 students in a half-day program. Results indicated no significant differences between the two groups on four measures of academic achievement–visual recognition, sound recognition, vocabulary, and language expression. Significant differences were found on two scores, comprehension and mathematics concepts and applications. Further analysis determined that the difference in comprehension scores was due to girls in the half-day program scoring higher than boys in the full-day program and could not be attributed to differences in the programs. The difference in mathematics concepts and applications scores was due to boys in the full-day program significantly outscoring boys in the half-day program.
Literacy outcomes better in full-day kindergarten, but effects are greater in smaller classes
Literacy data obtained on students were examined to assess relationships between kindergarten program model (full- vs. half-day) and student literacy outcomes. Application of multilevel modeling techniques to the time series data collected from kindergarteners in economically disadvantaged school contexts in a large southwestern school district revealed that students exposed to a full day of instruction had greater literacy growth than their peers in half-day classrooms. Further examination of the program model results revealed that the relative efficacy of full-day kindergarten tended to be greater in smaller class size environments.
Academic effects of full-day kinder persist, to a point
First grade academic performance better with preschool and full-day kinder
This statewide longitudinal study was designed to investigate the effects of kindergarten schedule (half day, alternate day, and full day) and prior preschool attendance on elementary children’s success (achievement, incidence of grade retention, provision of special educational services, and classroom behavior). Behavioral outcome data are reported in detail. Results from the longitudinal study indicate that children who attend preschool prior to kindergarten experience greater subsequent success in elementary school than those who do not. Results from both phases of the study indicate that participation in full-day kindergarten is positively related to subsequent school performance, at least through first grade. Additional analyses demonstrate the significant impact of age at entrance to kindergarten and of gender.
Spelling scores higher in first grade for those who attend full day kinder
The study compared four portfolio assessment scores of two groups of first grade students in the East Brunswick Public School District (New Jersey). The first group consisted of 16 children who participated in a full-day kindergarten program, and the second group consisted of 61 children who participated in a half-day kindergarten program. Results showed that the full-day kindergarten sample scores were higher in all areas than the half-day kindergarten sample, however, only significantly higher in one area–the Developmental Spelling Assessment subtest of the standardized portfolio.
Higher achievement found in full-day kinder disappears by the end of first grade
The authors compared the achievement of children who were enrolled in full-day kindergarten to a matched sample of students who were enrolled in half-day kindergarten on mathematics and reading achievement in Grades 2, 3, and 4, several years after they left kindergarten. Results showed that full-day kindergarten students demonstrated significantly higher achievement at the end of kindergarten than did their half-day kindergarten counterparts, but that advantage disappeared quickly by the end of first grade. Interpretations and implications are given for that finding.
Better math and reading and fewer absences in second grade after full-day kinder
Of these second‐graders, 730 of them had been in full‐day kindergarten and 244 were in half‐day kindergarten. The results indicated that children who were in a full‐day kindergarten program scored significantly higher on both math and reading on a standardized achievement test. In addition, there were fewer children from the full‐day cohort who had been retained in grade. There were no differences in the number of special education referrals between the two groups. Finally, children who attended full‐day kindergarten were absent less during the school year than the half day kindergarten group.
Higher test scores in second grade after full-day kinder
This evaluation of the long-term effect of attending an all-day kindergarten program on academic achievement found that students in grade 1 who had attended the all-day program had a significant advantage over students who had attended a traditional half-day program. Elementary school achievement test scores of students who had attended the full-day program were compared with the scores of students who had attended a half-day program. Both studies found a significant advantage of the full-day program over the half-day program. However, the achievement difference between the groups lost significance after the first year of elementary school for the 1987 cohort. The difference remained significant for the 1988 cohort in the second year, but further study is needed to determine whether this difference remains prominent.
Higher reading and math scores in second and third grade after all-day kindergarten
In a study of the effectiveness of all-day kindergarten for the Newark, New Jersey, Board of Education, Koopmans (1991) looked at two cohorts of students: one in its third year of elementary school and the other in its second year. There were no significant differences in reading comprehension and math scores on the California Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) for the first cohort; however, both reading comprehension and math scores were higher for students in the second cohort who had attended all-day kindergarten.
Benefits of full-day kinder mostly disappear by third grade in large study
This paper uses the Early Child Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Class of 1998–1999 to evaluate the efficacy of this policy. We find that there are initial benefits for students and the mothers of students who attend full‐day kindergarten, but that these differences largely evaporate by third grade. Contrary to claims by some advocates, attending full‐day kindergarten is found to have no additional benefit for students in families with income below the poverty threshold.
Higher test scores in third grade after full-day kinder, no relation to scores in fourth in large study
A longitudinal study of elementary school students in the School District of Philadelphia through Grade 4 indicated that students who had attended full-day kindergarten earned higher marks on their report cards and performed better on reading, math, and science portions of standardized tests during Grade 3 than their peers who had attended half-day kindergarten. During Grade 4, students who had attended full-day kindergarten continued to outperform their peers who had attended half-day kindergarten on the science portion of a standardized test, but achievement in other areas was similar across the two groups.
More success in middle school after full-day kinder, but home life and individual personality more relevant
The findings indicated that Anchorage students had the opportunity for success regardless of the type of kindergarten program they attended, but that not all students were successful. Factors such as individual student initiative, home life, and educational opportunities after kindergarten influenced students’ later educational career and successes more that the type of kindergarten program attended. Based on the findings, it was concluded that the full-day program has been implemented successfully, offers students an immediate pay-off in preparation for first grade, and relates to success in middle school. During Grades 4-11, students who had attended half-day kindergarten generally scored at expected grade level on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills at higher rates than their full-day kindergarten peers.
Other research regarding full-day kinder
Full-day kinder enrollment increased from 1/10 to 1/2 of US kids between 1975 to 2005
Over the past three decades, enrollment in full-day kindergarten has grown considerably—from roughly one-tenth to just over half of US kindergartners today. Full-day kindergarten reappeared first in the 1960s as an intervention designed to help disadvantaged children “catch up” to their peers through additional schooling. More recently, it has gained popularity among non-poor parents and schools, so that children presently enrolled in full-day programs are, on average, very similar to their half-day counterparts in baseline test scores as well as other child, parent and school characteristics. Using longitudinal data, I estimate the impact of full-day kindergarten on standardized test scores in mathematics and reading, as children progress from kindergarten to first grade. I find that full-day kindergarten has sizeable impacts on academic achievement, but the estimated gains are short-lived, particularly for minority children.