Full-day kindergarten

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

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)

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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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