Full-day kindergarten

Program basics

  • 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

Target population

Elementary school-aged children

Program cost

Estimated $2,650 per student to expand half-day programs to full-day programs

Implementation locations

  • Used nationwide

Dates active

Not available

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.

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