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?

teresa hoff December 09, 2012 at 04:23 PM
it is full time babysitting for parents paid for by tax payers, that is the benefits and who benefits.
Avon Resident December 09, 2012 at 09:40 PM
There are economic issues with not having full day kindergarten that have not been addressed. In a town that has very little open space for new development, Avon will come to rely on other desirable features to encourage home sales and economic growth. Full day kindergarten is a desirable feature to a young family in search of a new home. Several well known Realtors in the Farmington Valley have experienced losses of Avon home sales due to the lack of full day kindergarten from prospective buyers for at least 2 reasons: 1) prospective buyers have or expect to have kindergarten-age children and desire full day kindergarten, and 2) prospective buyers feel that by not having it, Avon does not take it's role in early childhood education serious enough. There are also indications of relocation services directing families to towns other than Avon for the very same reasons. Thus, these $s go to another town with an impression of a better education and community can be found there rather than in Avon. Talk to your Realtor - hear what they are seeing this past year.
Avon Parent December 10, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Parents send their children to school for an education, not for babysitting, but yes, part of what happens when we send our children to school is that adults other than their parents are responsible for them during school hours. This is true in first grade, seventh grade and high school, not just kindergarten. Why not object to full day first grade? With no state mastery tests until third grade, is it really necessary? Do first graders really need two specials a day, or recess, or lunch time at school, or independent reading and work time? What if some kids aren't ready for full day school in first grade, or some parents simply want more time with their kids? Change can be hard, but it's naive to think that the benefits of full day school outweigh the trade-offs only at first grade. Also, many kids already attend private full day kindergarten and full day preschool, and they likely have a number of advantages in first grade over their peers who only attended half day programs. Interestingly, the parents who are complaining that if they opt for the half day option, their kids will be "behind" aren't complaining about that disadvantage today, but it certainly exists. Among its many benefits, full day public kindergarten offers us a chance to create a more level playing field at the entry into public school.
Avon Parent December 10, 2012 at 03:43 AM
As a parent, I want full day kindergarten for my child because I think that she is ready for it, that she will benefit from it academically, socially and emotionally, and that, in today's world, it is the standard for a high quality kindergarten program. This isn't a one dimensional issue about "babysitting." Also, our community seemingly didn't blink an eye when a TV studio was recently approved for the high school. As a community, we should question our educational priorities if we prioritize a TV studio for high school students over a full day of school for some of our students.
Avon Mom for FDK December 10, 2012 at 04:35 AM
What was not mentioned in this article, but was pointed out in Mala's presentation at the recent BOE meeting, is the fact that the recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by the State of CT, which are in line with the Federal Common Core Standards, "WILL have a SIGNIFICANT impact on the content, knowledge and skills required of ALL students." He notes that in a comparison of our current state standards to the CCSS, the following observations were made: *** CCSS English Language Arts - there are 25 standards that appear in the CCSS Kindergargen standards that are currently in the Grade 1 CT standards *** CCSS Mathematics - there are 22 standards in the CCSS kindergarten standards that correlate to present CT standards, primarily in Grade 1, but also in Grade 2 and 3. The point is, with the adoption of CCSS, Full Day Kindergarten ("FDK") is NEEDED. Yes, Avon may compare well now to other schools. But this will no longer be the case if we don't prepare our kids NOW. It's impractical to believe that teachers can meet these standards in a mere 2.5 hours per day. Much time is spent on going to the bathroom, putting coats, hats and gloves on. There is not enough "learning time" in the current 2.5 hr program. Not only have many towns adopted FDK (W.Htfd, Simsbury, Canton & Glastonbury), entire states have moved to it. The State of CT is encouraging districts to develop FDK. This is not babysitting, this is your child's education & the future of Avon.
Avon Mom for FDK December 10, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Continuing on.....One can certainly understand a parent's desire to spend more time with his/her child and elect half-day kindergarten. But please realize that educational standards have/are changing. Be prepared to prepare your child so that he/she is not behind when it comes to first grade. FDK is endorsed by our school administrations and the Kindergarten and First Grade teachers themselves. They know and understand the educational requirements - it is their job. Hopefully the BOE will put out some type of communication soon on the CCSS to help more folks understand and appreciate the need for FDK.
Townie2000 December 10, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Parents, there are so many FREE programs for kids at the library that one can avail of. When my kids were younger, I would take them to multiple library programs to supplement half day school. I also got some hours in during the day just with them. Those were hours that I never regret and wish I could have all over again. They grow fast. Having full day kindergarten isn't going to do anything more for them than forcing them to be in a more structured environment for a longer time at a younger age. Cherish your moments with them. Those moments don't last forever, but the memories do.
Concerned Parent December 10, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Avon High School has extremely limited electives, and offers only TWO modern languages! Club sports no longer exist, so unless your child plays at the varsity (or in a few cases JV) level, they don't play anything (and they all pay to do so). The drama department basically survives off ticket sales, the English department does not even offer a Shakespeare class, and the list goes on and on and on. Students who would attend FDK in September may find themselves better prepared, but for what? Unless this town wakes up, changes it's tune, and starts demanding and supporting school budgets that not only support the bare bones curriculum we currently have, but supports reinstating all the classes that have been cut over the last 10 years, who knows if there will be any classes left to take beyond the four basic requirements. If you dont believe it, take a look at, for example, what Glastonbury and Simsbury offer, and compare. You will be shocked.
Adam December 10, 2012 at 02:32 PM
How about having some quality time with mom and dad away from the influence of peers? How about setting time aside to build model rockets or a tool rack; or help mom make cookies or fold the laundry? Why we are so willing to let our school system appropriate opportunities for enriching parent-child experiences? It's as if we are no longer parents, but mere providers, who look to teachers and administrators to do just about everything. Good grief, even the weekends are now dominated by sports. Against this backdrop, the anecdotes offered that ADK enhances Avon real estate values is rather superficial, don't you think? Furthermore, it's also a fallacy. For every buyer that is looking for "good schools", there are two buyers looking for lower taxes. Of the total population of potential buyers in the market, only a fraction are looking for ADK. Further, there is no evidence that more outlays automatically translates into improved (which are already well above average) test scores, socialization, etc. This is the worn out, tired and falsified canard that parents with kids in the system trot out every year there is a budget up for vote. If you believe your child will benefit from supplemental programs, you are free to pursue this on your own. Don't put a greater burden on the taxpayer to do it. And for those of you who think this is "free money", guess again. There is no free lunch.
Avon Mom for FDK December 10, 2012 at 05:43 PM
So Adam..what is your response to the fact that W.Htfd, Glastonbury, Simsbury, Canton and Burlington, to name a few, have moved to Full Day Kindergarten?
Wyatt December 10, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Agreed. Most parents today would prefer the government raising their children, rather than doing it themselves.
Wyatt December 10, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Wyatt December 10, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Great post, but you miss the underlying interest of the parents pushing for FDK. Doing what you did requires a dedication to parenting and a serious time commitment. These parents don't want to be bothered with such things - they don't want to be bothered with (i) spending money on their kids education and (ii) actually being parents. They want everyone else to pay for their kids and they want someone else to raise them. Simple as that.
Wyatt December 10, 2012 at 06:49 PM
So will taxpayer financed full-day "educational" programs for 9 month old babies be next?? We want them prepared when they get to pre-school! Don't want your child to fall behind! Plus, when they are that age, they barely even study - some just play all the time! What a waste of time!
Marci December 10, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Sure am glad my kids are grown and on their own and no longer in this excellent school system and that my grandsons town in Illinois suburbs still have half day kindergarten. We send them to Nursery School for a half day at age 3 & 5 and they come home and nap from 1 to 3 or have quiet time with Mom. Then Kindergarten for a half day and they come home and nap or rest or spend time with MOM.. This is so not good for this town and most MOMS in Avon are stay at home and those who are not have plans for their kids it would seem.. This is not an easy world anymore, these kids are growing up with massive debt run up by our Government. Let them be little kids while they still can and play as they should. Full day is just not necessary nor good for 5 year old's. It's too much. They're just a year out from being toddlers. Let our children and children's children be protected and secure for as long as they can.. Half a day is more then enough for 3 & 4 year old preschool and kindergarten as well. If you want full day move to a town that has it.. Let Avon hold on to a tradition that dates back to our youth.. First grade comes fast enough. We are not other towns, we are Avon where kids get a great education as the system is presently set up. I doubt many pediatricians would agree with full day for 5 years old. I find it to be cruel. Just how I feel. Move if you don't like the way Avon is now, family oriented.
Marci December 10, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Educating little children is not the responsibility of anyone for REALTOR'S commission checks! By the way, do you not read Avon Patch?? Homes are selling for very high prices now in Avon.. I don't think Dear Avon Resident that we should make our little 5 years old stay in school all day instead of half a day in order to increase your pay. If anyone should be giving opinions on this that work, it would fall to the child's Pediatrician and the Parent/Parents not on how many homes you can sell.. With all due respect your logic and comments baffle my mind..
Sam December 11, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Marci It would be awesome if my kids got the opportunities that yours did while in Avon public schools. But, with budget cut after budget cut that is not the case. Back in the day all children received the gifted program, now no one does. There used to be more electives and no one had to pay to play a high school sport. Playgrounds were payed for by the taxpayers not through endless fundraising by parents. I am a stay at home mom, but I would guess that less than 1/3 of us are. It's not easy any more to be one when you are looking at tuition costs of $50k plus per year per kid, and Uconn is over $20 these days as well. The world is changing and every time we turn around the US seems to be ranked lower in education then our peer countries. We are not talking boot camp, but kindergarten.
Sam December 11, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I noticed my UConn typo and got a more specific figure from their website. It is just over $23,000 a year with tuition, fees, room, and board to be an in state student at UConn this year.
Adam December 11, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Avon mom: You forgot to mention Hartford and East Hartford and New Haven and Bridgeport. These cities don't exactly top the list for child achievement, but you can certainly consider a move to one of these towns if you are unsuccessful persuading a critical mass in Avon. Then again, you may want to consider all of the other benefits that Avon has that these towns do not, including superb test scores.:)
Avon Mom for FDK December 11, 2012 at 03:11 AM
It is obvious that some folks here in Avon have no idea, or just don't want to recognize, how much educational standards have changed and many have never heard of the Common Core Standards. Children today no longer learn their ABCs and 123s in Kindergarten as they did years ago and when we were kids. Children today are EXPECTED to know alot more and know it ALOT earlier. Children are EXPECTED to read in Kindergarten. This is true here in CT and across this country. My son's Pre-School teacher, who has been teaching for nearly 20 years, gave us a perfect personal example on how educational standards have changed. She has 2 daughters.....one in 8th grade (age 14) and one that is 11 years older (age 25) and now married. She witnessed first hand how much educational standards have increased. She explained how her younger daughter in 8th grade was being taught and expected to learn information that her older daughter was taught in 10th or 11th grade. In a mere 10 years, educational standards have increased dramatically at all levels of education. There were no CMTs back when we grew up. There were only SATs in high school that were needed for college. Folks in Avon need to recognize this, as have many towns CT and across the country. Also, many years ago, families could afford to have only one working parent...that is not necessarily true today and MANY Moms in Avon do work. Times have changed and Avon needs to get up to speed. This is not cruelty, this is reality.
Marci December 11, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Private colleges that my children attended for thirty grand a year for just room, board and tuition alone are now about sixty grand, at least the ones my daughter, son and son in law attended are more then fifty thousand.. I repeat most Moms in Avon are stay at home MOMS and paying for sports has been going on for many years now even down in Greenwich where mine attended high school after Lake Forest and countless stupid corporate transfers.. If you don't like the school system here you could move to a town that you do like it or pick one of the fine private schools in Avon, Farmington, West Hartford and Simsbury, as even the boarding ones accept day students. The government has literally taken over our lives no matter what our income level may be.. Though I understand where you're coming from I simply don't agree. We have excellent Nursery Schools in town such as Pine Grove Nursery School, still going strong after all these years where they play and learn albeit at different levels and speeds for just 3 hours per day if you choose. Kindergarten should remain a half day. Let the kids be kids. Goodness at age 5 they've just left the Toddler years.The majority of Moms do not work outside the home, some do & they have day care..Why should anyone pay for another's daycare, well until the Government makes us do that too. Take from others&give it away. SATS and ACTS were required for good colleges.Avon is awesome.People can move if not happy with school system. Let kids be kids.
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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