15 Sep 2014
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What Are the Benefits of Full-Day Kindergarten?

Avon Superintendent of Schools Gary Mala presented his findings to the Board of Education at the 2013-14 budget workshop last week and provided Patch with his research summary.

Interest has surged this year in bringing full-day kindergarten to Avon Public Schools and it could be an option for parents if that proposed item on Superintendent Gary Mala's recommended 2013-14 budget passes.

While the full-day program would be made available to all rising kindergarteners next school year if approved, half-day kindergarten would still be an option.

Fifty-eight school districts of 164 in Connecticut have half-day kindergarten and 65 have full-day kindergarten for all students, according to Mala's presentation to the school board. Twenty-eight districts have full-day kindergarten that is only offered to some students.

Other districts have taken a different approach and gone with an extended day. Sixteen districts in the state offer that option to all children and 13 provide it for a portion of students. Some districts provide a combination of possibilities, according to the presentation.

While some in Avon have expressed it will be best for the kids academically and socially, others worry that a full-day is too long and report wanting more time with their little one at home before first grade.

So, what are the benefits of full-day kindergarten versus half-day?

That is something that Avon Public School leaders also wanted to find out. Here are some of the highlights from Mala's summary of research he conducted on full-day kindergarten. You can read the full summary in the attached PDF above.

  • A 1980 article by E. Adcock – A Comparison of Half-day and Full-day Kindergarten Classes on Academic Achievement – finds that full-day students scored higher on the Survey Battery of the Metropolitan Achievement Tests, Mala's summary stated.
  • Another article written by M. Brierly in 1987 – Writing to Read and Full-Day Kindergarten Evaluation – reported the sqme finding, but elaborated that half-day kindergarten students "showed better adjustment skills associated with personal and social growth than students in the full-day kindergarten," according to Mala's summary.
  • Articles Mala cited in his research summary showed mixed reports on whether full-day kindergarten students performed better than half-day students in certain areas like reading.
  • A 1983 research paper by E. Anderson – Increasing School Effectiveness:  The Full-day Kindergarten – presented to the American Educational Research Association (AERA) not only found that 5-year-olds in full day kindergarten demonstrated "a measurable advantage in acquisition of skills and knowledge," but also that students also gained more confidence, independence and cooperation capabilities, according to Mala's summary.
  • The article also pointed out that enrollment might increase with full-day kindergarten because kids who are going to private schools for early education might return, according to Mala's summary.
  • J. Cryan, R. Sheehan, J. Wiechel, and I. Bandy-Hedden wrote the article, Success Outcomes of Full-day Kindergarten: More Positive Behavior and Increased Achievement in the Years After in 1992. According to Mala's summary, the authors found that children who did full-day kindergarten performed higher in first grade, participated more and were more independent. They also were more likely to "approach the teacher," Mala's summary stated.
  • Several other articles he cited reported that full-day kindergarten students were more prepared for first grade.
  • James Elicker and Sangeeta Mathur wrote in a 1997 article – What Do They Do All Day? Comprehensive Evaluation of a Full-day Kindergarten  – that parents and teachers surveyed found that full-day kindergarten was more flexible, gave the kids more time for "child-initiated creative activities" and less stressful, according to Mala's summary.
  • In a 1996 paper by D. Hough and Suzanne Bryde – The Effects of Full-day Kindergarten on Student Achievement and Affect – presented to the AERA said that the fatigue level of half-day and full-day kindergarten students was about the same.
  • Students did more work in small groups in full-day kindergarten than half-day and they experienced more social interaction, Mala said in his summary about the article.
  • Among many points Mala cited from the Early Child Longitudinal Study of 2004, the National Center for Education Statistics found that the full-day kindergarten class of 1998-99 studied had more exposure to electives like music and art, as well as social studies, math and science, than half-day students.

Main benefits that Mala reported to the Board of Education last week include the following:

  • More time for teachers and students.
  • More opportunities for children to "build individual understanding of concepts," work in small and large groups and individually, "make connections through structured activities groups and play," "think, analyze, investigate and question," and share knowledge.
  • Teachers will have more of a chance to "fully expose the students to all aspects of the curriculum," "address varying levels of learning profiles," "challenge students at all developmental levels," "prepare students for the transition to Grade 1" and work with both students and parents.
  • He also pointed out that full-day kindergarten would also be beneficial for children who require "additional services" and that addressing their needs earlier might mean they need less aid later in their educational path.

What questions do you have about full-day kindergarten? Do you support it?

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