Full-day vs. half-day kindergarten

In an important new longitudinal study forthcoming in the Feb. 2006 issue of the American Journal of Education, researchers draw on a nationally representative sample of more than 8,000 kindergarteners and 500 U.S. public schools to explore the role of full-day vs. half-day kindergarten in early academic achievement. The researchers found that full-day programs, which are most commonly available to less-advantaged children, are roughly equivalent to an additional month of schooling each year when compared to half-day programs.

"We evaluated program effectiveness by how much children learned in mathematics and literacy over the kindergarten year," write the authors. "Results are clear: when children's social and academic backgrounds are taken into account, as well as structural, social, and academic features of their schools, children who experience full-day kindergarten as a whole-school program are advantaged in terms of their cognitive learning."

However, the researchers point out that the additional time in full-day kindergarten is not spent solely on instruction. Rather, successful teachers of full-day kindergarten use the extra time with students to "broaden their social as well as their academic experiences."

"Our results do more than simply confirm existing research," write the authors. "Our favorable findings for kindergarten are not confined to disadvantaged children or to low-income or urban schools all children benefit, in terms of learning more, when they attend kindergarten as a full-day program."

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Founded as School Review in 1893, AJE acquired its present name in November 1979. The Journal bridges and integrates the intellectual, methodological, and substantive diversity of educational scholarship, while encouraging a vigorous dialogue between educational scholars and practitioners.

Lee et al., "Learning in Full- and Half-Day Kindergarten" American Journal of Education 112:2.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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