Full-Day vs Half-Day Kindergarten: Which Is Better?

Abstract

Do children learn more and interact better if enrolled in a full-day kindergarten or half-day program? If children enrolled in a full-day kindergarten increase learning skills, would this have an effect and advantage as they enter and go into the next level of their education? This research shows the effectiveness of a full-day kindergarten as well as the advantages and disadvantages of both scheduled programs. The researcher addresses these questions with selected participants enrolled in both programs basically to distinguish the major similarities and differences between the two schedules. This research used an experimental method to point out the cause and effect of having children enrolled in a full-day or half-day kindergarten program.

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Introduction

Overview/Background

In the United States, there are millions of students, particularly children ages five years old, are enrolled in kindergarten programs. More than half of these million students are enrolled in full-day scheduled programs, and the rest of it goes to the more conventional half-day scheduled kindergarten. There are no specific and particular requirements for kindergartens. Some public schools are required to offer kindergarten in their curriculum. However, some schools depend on program and preference, and kindergarten may be optional. It is possible that with the guidance of educational bodies, kindergartens may offer related or the same programs and activities. Some schools, however, may vary in time as some provide less than two hours per day and while others may have more than six hours. The schedule may depend on the program for the period of time per school. It was said that kindergarten first became popular after World War I. During this period, part-day programs were used to serve more children and save money for families as some expenditures were provided for by the government. However, the Depression period had a lot of school districts remove kindergarten. The programs were returned and grew again after World War II. By 2000, 88% of all five-year-olds in the United States were enrolled in a school-based kindergarten program (Parenting Perspectives, 2002).

Problem Statement

It is important for children to mingle with other people, especially kids of the same age as theirs. This will help them understand things and open their eyes to the different circumstances that might happen around them. Letting them play with the other children is one way of helping them to make communicate and build a relationship with their friends. Sooner or later, they will be going to school, which is another step and another chapter in their lives as they start to learn in a professional way guided by teachers and other school officials. As much as parents want to be with their children 24/7, there will come a time when they have to sacrifice being with their little angels as they have to send their kids to school.

Schedules for kindergartens are very important. The majority of five-year-olds in the United States today are more accustomed to being away from home much of the day, more aware of the world around them, and more likely to spend much of the day with peers than were children of previous generations (Herman 1984). It is important to know which is better so that parents need not worry if their kids have enough time to learn and having fun at the same time and so that they can fully adjust and have enough time to bond with their kids and take good care of them as well.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to help parents understand the time their children have to spend in school and if it is effective in such a way that their kids are learning enough or if they are having too much time and wasting much effort whether or not it is needed. It is also important that they know what can be done within a specific period of time, either full-day or half-day. This is research also aims to point out the advantages and disadvantages of having a full-day or half-day schedule in a kindergarten program.

Theoretical Foundation

The theoretical framework that will be used in this study is the Thinking Style theory. This will support this research in pointing out not only the advantages and disadvantages of full-day and half-day schedules for kindergartens but also the similarities and differences of the two given schedules.

Significance of the Study

Since this will be their children’s first time to be in a school with only teachers and fellow students are present, it is necessary for them to know the whereabouts of their children inside the school or kindergarten premises, such as the different activities planned for the given schedule. This research is important for parents to have knowledge as to what full-day or half-day scheduled kindergarten has to offer. Once this research is done, it will be easier for parents to decide whether they would want to enroll their children in a full-day scheduled kindergarten which offers and provides more or less five to six hours or more of variety of activities or to a half-day scheduled kindergarten which last for approximately three hours in length.

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Research Questions

For this study, the questions to be answered are:

  1. Which is a more effective, full-day or half-day schedule for kindergarten?
  2. What are the different activities that can be done during the full-day or half-day schedule in kindergarten?
  3. What are the things needed to consider before enrolling your children in a kindergarten that offers either a full-day or half-day schedule?

Hypotheses

This research may help both parents and children to have enough time together and at the same time may help parents to have a better understanding as to why it is important for them to send their children to the right school that offers the perfect schedule that is appropriate to their lifestyle. In addition, parents may organize their schedule and activities as much as they plan for their children. The information gathered in this research may also help parents to realize whether they want their kids to be enrolled in a school that offers a full-day or half-day schedule.

Operational Definitions

Dependent variable:

  • Kindergarten – a school or class for young children between the ages of four and six years old.
  • Schedule – a timetable
  • Time – duration

Independent variable:

  • Full-day schedule – lasts for five to six hours of the program with planned activities.
  • Half-day schedule – lasts for more or less three hours of the program with planned activities.
  • Specific period of time – either full-day or half-day scheduled

Review of Related Literature

The argument for a full-day kindergarten program should not be based on making kids immersed in being educated. Kindergarten as a preschool program should focus on providing children with the luxury time of learning. This may mean deeper, richer, more developmental learning, hands-on discovery, experimenting, or even “making mistakes,” and time for reading the whole story (Haglund, 2008). There is really no exact and specific answer to the question as to which is better, whether a full-day or half-day kindergarten. It all depends on the lifestyle, wants and needs, wealth or resources, and most especially on the capability of the parents. Everything also depends on the child’s necessities and capacities, as well as to what else is obtainable in the neighborhood and, of course, the features and qualities of the kindergarten itself. It is of note that some parents support the notion that children who spend on a full-day kindergarten will give them ideal training for formal education. This may also be helpful in reducing impacts of risks to children who have been distant for quite some time, those who have limited learning and public familiarity, and those who might suffer from late obscurity due to developmental problems, family stress, and other factors as early as possible.

A lot of families are in favor of full-day kindergarten because they believe that it brings positive changes in their family patterns. Many parents and, most of the time, couples opt to work at the same time while their children are in preschool. The number of mothers of children under six who work outside the home increased 34 percent from 1970 to 1980 (Evans and Marken 1983). There is also an increase in the percentage of children with kindergarten experience. The mid-’70s saw the popularity of preschool grow. Many children have had some experience in Head Start, daycare, private preschools, or early childhood programs in public schools. These experiences have provided children’s first encounters with daily organized instructional and social activities before kindergarten (Herman, 1984).

For some children and families, a good quality half-day kindergarten program will offer sufficient experiences for the development of strong school readiness and social skills while also providing time for other life experiences within the home or other community settings (Parenting Perspectives, 2002). There are still those who believe that half-day kindergarten would be enough for their children as they don’t have to spend the entire day in a daycare or a preschool since their children also need time for other social events, like being outside or just within the neighborhood exploring other things.

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There are several advantages and disadvantages to having a full-day kindergarten. Some of its advantages are: a recent longitudinal study of full-day kindergarten in the Evansville-Vanderberg, Ohio School District indicates those fourth-graders maintained the academic advantage gained during full-day kindergarten (Humphrey 1983). It shows that children enrolled in a full-day kindergarten are most likely to be academically active and that they are performing better than children enrolled in half-day kindergarten. School districts that have planned a developmentally appropriate, non-academic curriculum with well-paced activities have reported few problems with full-day scheduling (Evans 1984; Stinard l982). It also helps that children enrolled in full-day kindergarten are given the time to also do different activities such as non-academicals, but they are also given a chance to explore and experience learning while having fun.

On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages full-day kindergarten has. Some parents and educators view that a full day for a five-year-old could be taxing. Some find that programs as too academic and inappropriate for preschool children (Elkind 2008). There are also people who think that children do not deserve to be in school, kindergarten, or daycare for so long. They also think that workbooks, textbooks, and testing should not be in a kindergarten classroom. It should be more like play-oriented learning in the morning, and as for the afternoon, it should be nap time or any quiet activities. Another negative perception of full-day kindergarten is the requirement for more teachers. This is not necessarily a bad thing for those who are looking for a job as an elementary teacher, but what about the taxpayers? (Morse 2008). Additional teachers will be needed, and this means that they have to pay more than usual. Along with the teachers, additional facilities will also be added. That is why full-day kindergarten is more expensive than half-day kindergarten.

There are educators, however, who prefer a half-day schedule for kindergarten. They insist that this schedule of the program for kindergarten can also give excellent learning and communal practice for children aged between four to six years old while introducing them sufficiently to school. Half-day programs are seen to provide continuity and systematic experience while providing a more relaxed learning atmosphere as compared to full-day programs. Proponents of the half-day approach believe that, given the 5-year-old’s attention span, level of interest, and home ties, a half-day offers ample time in school and allows more time for the young child to play and interact with adults and other children in the less-structured home or child care settings (Finkelstein 1983). There are people who feel that children’s shorter concentration and attention length, and concern levels are more appropriate to a half-day program for kindergarten. There is also less time for just having fun as they are more concentrated on their lessons and they are more focused on academics. Children are more cheerful during the day because they only stress for half a day. This is an advantage because children who are upset listen and learn less (TheLaborofLove.com 2000).

One of the more prevailing disadvantages of having a half-day kindergarten schedule is the less time for academic readiness. Several studies seem to back this up, finding that all-day students experience not only academic advantages but also, in some cases, more time for child-directed play (Boutell 2009). Children may or may not be ready for first grade if they were previously enrolled and attended a half-day preschool program. This means that they might not be prepared enough to go to the next level of education and go to the next grade.

Another disadvantage of a half-day kindergarten is if the school district does not provide transportation, this places an extra burden on families. Parents may need to leave work to pick up their children (Bulthuis 2009). Parents might have problems with transportation since it is a half-program. It only requires and takes a few hours, and if both parents are working, they may have to find someone to pick their children from school and even hire a babysitter to look after their kids while they’re at work.

Method

Research Design

This research paper shall undergo an experimental design. This method of research is appropriate for this research to identify the cause and effect of parents enrolling their children in a full-day or half-day kindergarten. It is also a helpful research design to know whether children learn and communicates more when enrolled in a full-day kindergarten than those who were enrolled in a half-day program.

By changing the independent variable while measuring the dependent variable while everything else is being controlled as much as possible, then the use of this method of research allows us to draw and make conclusions with far more certainty compared to other non-experimental designs and methods. Independent variables would be the scheduled program of kindergarten: full day and half day. At the same time, the dependent variable would be the learning and communication skills of children enrolled in the given programs.

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Subject and Sampling

Our research participants and subjects are children ages between four to six years old, male and female, and who are currently enrolled in a full-day and half-day kindergarten. Twenty children enrolled in a full-day kindergarten were selected randomly, as well as 20 children in a half-day kindergarten. Both groups come from different kindergartens. Certain participants were chosen since it is between these ages where children are usually enrolled in a kindergarten program. The researcher visited some kindergartens to ask and look for possible participants and representatives from different scheduled programs.

Instrumentation

To determine the effects of full-day and half-day schedules on the children enrolled, the researcher organized a survey and a test that will serve as an exam. For this research, the test given to the participants was Metropolitan Readiness Tests, by using this test, children were to show whether they were ready for their first grade or not. These tests focus on the development of the language and mathematical skills of the children. Though this cannot be considered as an admission test, it can be very helpful in determining whether the children are ready for first grade.

A survey was first given out to the participants to tell how they interact with other children and basically to determine their Behavior during classes. The survey includes their handwriting and spelling skills, while the exam includes reading and mathematics. After this survey, the exam was given

 Collection of Data

The researcher computes, score and tabulate all the responses in the given survey and test. The survey was first collected. After the prepared activity/lecture was conducted, the questionnaire was collected.

Data Analysis

The statistical technique used in this research is testing for differences between the subjects meaning if there is a minimal or huge effect of the given schedule, either full-day or half-day kindergarten, in the children’s academic performance. It is important to know the difference for parents to be aware of the effects of both full-day and half-day schedules on their children’s social and academic Behavior.

Results

Survey Response

Table 1. Full Day Kindergarten

Age Male Female
Four 2 1
Five 6 8
Six 1 2
Subjects: 20
Subject participated: 20

Table 2. Half Day Kindergarten

Age Male Female
Four 1 0
Five 4 5
Six 6 4
Subjects: 20
Subject participated: 20

Research Findings

Academic Performance
Subject Schedule Passed % Failed %
Mathematics Full-day 91 9
Half-day 95 15
Reading Full-day 88 12
Half-day 80 20
Hand-writing Full-day 74 26
Half-day 76 24
Spelling Full-day 90 10
Half-day 92 8
Social Behavior
Introvert % Extrovert %
Full-Day 20 80
Half-day 70 30

This table shows that there is a minimal effect when it comes to Academic Performance and Social Behavior of children enrolled in full-day and half-day kindergarten. When it comes to Academic Performance, it shows that children from both schedules are performing well, meaning that whether or not they are learning on a full day or half-day basis, they can still cope up and perform well. On the other hand, when it comes to their Social Behavior, it is showing that children enrolled in a full-day scheduled kindergarten seem to be more extroverted than those who are on a half-day kindergarten. Meaning, they are more outgoing, adventurous, and friendly, unlike children from half-day kindergarten that seem shy and quiet.

Discussion/Conclusions

Conclusion

Based on the statistical results, basically, there is no utmost effect of whether they enroll their children in a full-day or half-day kindergarten. It all depends on the teacher, lessons, and activities and on how their children are performing in school. It can also depend on how they help their children in learning and exploring new things. Social Behavior is not necessarily a factor in choosing what would be the best kindergarten schedule for children as parents themselves can help their children build confidence and learn how to communicate and open up themselves to other people.

Implications

The findings simply implicate that the duration of the school day or schedule is only one factor of the entire schooling experience. There are still other important factors that need to be considered. This includes the kindergarten’s set of activities planned for their students, how well they can manage and be patient in dealing with children, and of course, the quality of their teaching.

Limitations

It could have been best for this research if children who were previously enrolled in either a full-day kindergarten or a half-day kindergarten were also interviewed and surveyed to better understand the outcome of their learning experiences during those times and what are the effects now that they are on higher levels.

Recommendations for Future Research

This research can still be improved for the next study by using other sample techniques as well as making a different type of research design. It is also advisable to add variables, subjects and probably change the instrument used so that readers or parents can have other options in understanding better and realizing the point of this research.

References

  1. Boutell, J. (2009) Choosing Half Day or Full Day Kindergarten. TYPE-A, MOM.
  2. Bulthuis, W. (2009) Half-Day Kindergarten and Full Day Kindergarten. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
  3. Elkind, Dr. D. (2008) The Full Day Kindergarten. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC  Web.
  4. Evans, E. D. and Marken, D. (1983) LONGITUDINAL FOLLOW-UP COMPARISON OF CONVENTIONAL AND EXTENDED-DAY PUBLIC SCHOOL-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAMS. Seattle, WA. ED 254 298.
  5. Finkelstein, J. M. (1983) RESULTS OF MIDWESTERN UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS STUDY: KINDERGARTEN SCHEDULING. Volume I Number 4. Iowa: Price Laboratory School Research ED 248 979.
  6. Haglund, J (2008). Full-Day or Half-Day Kindergarten? Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
  7. Herman, B. E (1984). THE CASE FOR THE ALL-DAY KINDERGARTEN. Fastback 205. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation. ED 243 592.
  8. Humphrey, J. W. (1983) A LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN. Evansville, OH: Evansville-Vanderburgh School District. ED 247 014.
  9. Morse, J (2008) The Disadvantages of All-Day Kindergarten. AC Associated Content. 2009 Associated Content, Inc.
  10. Parenting Perspectives (2002). Full or Half Day Kindergarten?
  11. Stinard, T. A. (1982) SYNOPSIS OF RESEARCH ON KINDERGARTEN SCHEDULING: HALF-DAY, EVERYDAY; FULL DAY, ALTERNATE DAY; AND FULL DAY, EVERYDAY. Cedar Rapids, IA: Grant Wood Area Education Agency. ED 219 151.
  12. TheLaborofLove.com (2000) Half-Day or Full-Day Kindergarten – Pro’s & Con’s.
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