- Formal, school-based education for children age 4–6
- Programs run 5 days a week, are held at least 5 hours a day, and have the same duration as first-grade classes
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)
Proven (highest tier)
Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
Elementary school-aged children
Estimated $2,650 per student to expand half-day programs to full-day programs
- Used nationwide
Outcomes and impact
- Children in full-day kindergarten experience greater gains in early reading and math performance than children in half-day kindergarten.
- Full-day kindergarten has been observed to increase children’s self-regulation, school readiness, self-confidence, and cooperation skills.
- Effects are strongest in urban areas and for programs that last for more than 6 hours per day.
- After a year of full-day kindergarten, English language learners have math scores comparable to native speakers.
- Full-day kindergarten is associated with increased reading and math scores for children with disabilities.
- Parents of children in full-day kindergarten report less stress and fewer daily hassles than parents of children attending half-day programs.
- Children receive more individualized, focused instruction from teachers in full-day kindergarten.
Keys to successful implementation
- Note: This content is under review
- Provide school staff with professional development on curriculum changes associated with extending kindergarten length.
- Engage parents and the broader community in designing the transition to full day kindergarten, e.g. by creating a community task force.
- Evaluate the need for additional classroom space to accommodate the extended class times.
- Conduct frequent program evaluations to measure student progress.
- Communicate clearly to parents the specific changes, motives, and curricula pertaining to full-day kindergarten.