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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?

Avon Mom for FDK December 11, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Adam and others - here is a link to the State of CT Dept. of Education. http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Early/KindergartenProgs.pdf No, it's not just Hartford, East Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven that have FDK as you suggest....try more like Darien, Greenwich, Litchfileld, New Canaan, Old Saybrook, Ridgefield and West Hartford to name a few....some of the best towns in this state in terms of educational scores. This report is for the 2011-12 school year (last year). According to the report, 63% of CT Kindergarteners are enrolled in FDK - that's 73 school districts, 7 charter schools and 11 magnet schools. Only 30% are enrolled in 1/2 day and 7% have extended day. Again, this is for the 2011-12 school year (last year)...that doesn't include the 15 or more districts that have moved to FDK for THIS SCHOOL YEAR, according to a recent survey done by the CT Assoc. of Public School Superintendents, which you can also find on line. Those towns that moved to FDK this year include Glastonbury, Simsbury, Canton, Burlington, and Granby. Speaking of Glastonbury, check out the article TODAY in the Courant on how successful the folks in Glastonbury feel their FDK program is going so far. You can find it on line at the Courant.com. Several other towns are pushing for FDK for the 2013-14 school year. Do the research and you will see that we are not alone. Nearly 10 entire states have adopted FDK for all students.
Avon Mom for FDK December 11, 2012 at 04:33 AM
By the way....one can also find more information on line regarding the Common Core Standards, which the State of CT adopted in 2010.
Adam December 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Avon Mom: Even if you can persuade Avon to accept spending cuts or tax increases to pay for ADK, the research shows no lasting improvement from ADK. Also, the Dept. of Ed is not an objective, neutral source for statistical data. It has an agenda, of course, to appropriate more power to justify its existence. "Our analyses reinforce the findings of earlier studies that suggest that full-day kindergarten programs may not enhance achievement in the long term. Furthermore, our study raises the possibility that full-day kindergarten programs may actually be detrimental to mathematics performance and nonacademic readiness skills. However, these findings should be interpreted carefully because we have not accounted for potential self-selection bias or other nonobservable factors. It is possible that some of our findings are driven by unobserved characteristics. http://www.aecf.org/upload/publicationfiles/ec3624j67.pdf "The short-term benefits of full-day kindergarten compared to half-day kindergarten are well-documented. However, the evidence for persistence of these benefits into subsequent grades is far from conclusive. Despite the promising findings of the few longitudinal studies conducted in schools and school districts across the United States, there is a lack of sound research regarding the persistence of benefits experienced by full-day kindergarten students." http://ceep.indiana.edu/projects/PDF/PB_Spring_2005_Full_Day_Kindergarten.pdf
Adam December 11, 2012 at 08:56 PM
By the way, "other towns are doing it" is not an argument. It's a statement of questionable relevance since we live in a statewide echo chamber, ergo any call for "increased funding for education" (not to be confused with improved education) is rubber stamped by a one-party government that is beholden to the very special interest groups seeking the benefit based on the thinnest of evidence. Indeed, evidence if increasingly irrelevant since all that is needed is the perception of evidence and a worthwhile cause to innoculate both the politician and the special interest group from popular unrest for political patronage.
Avon Parent March 26, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Good article in WSJ on the hazards of helicopter parenting, called 'Lean In' and the Era of the Inconvenienced Mom," which is food for thought for those having difficulty seeing the benefits of full day kindergarten. Excerpt: "Blame the modern-day, mom-guilting belief that being a good mother means devoting every waking moment (give or take 30 minutes for yoga or Pinterest) to child-rearing….But in truth, both generations benefit when parents do a little more leaning out of their children's lives....A 2011 North Carolina State University study found that children play less actively when their (loving, worried) parents hover over them, even as another study, at the University of Missouri published this winter, found that the more time spent by mothers directing their children's play—do this! try that!—the more "negative emotion" is displayed....By the time these cosseted kids reach college, they're ready to give up—or so concludes another study, this one by Holly Schiffrin at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia...."

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