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Full-Day Kindergarten Kids Don't Actually Get A Developmental Headstart, Study Shows

Starting school is a huge milestone in every parent and child's life! Even if your kids have been attending daycare or preschool, things can feel a lot different when they enter kindergarten. For a lot of kids, it's their first real taste of being in a classroom, and going to school with the big kids. Kindergarten looks a little different at every school, including the length of the school day. Some schools ease kids in with half-day kindergarten, which can make the transition to school a little easier. But other schools have full-day kinder, which can be 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week. That's a pretty long day for a 5-year-old! A lot of parents prefer their child attend full-day, thinking that it's more beneficial to their kids. But a recent study says that may not be the case at all.

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The University of Hong Kong conducted a study how children fare in full- or half-day kindergarten. Researchers randomly selected 346 children enrolled in either program from 15 different kindergartens around the city. The children were assessed by researchers from 2015-2017. They found that there were no significant differences between the two groups of kids. They measured cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development, and both full-day and half-day kindergartners performed about the same in all subjects.

PREVIOUSLY: Your Child's Social Skills In Kindergarten Are More Important Than Academics

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Credit: iStock / Rawpixel

The researchers also conducted interview with more than 300 parents as part of the study. Surprisingly, about 70% of parents interviewed wanted to have a full-day option for their kids, while 80% reported that they believed a longer school day would help prepare their kids better in terms of social and emotional development.

Even given these findings, the researchers involved in the study still recommended that schools implement full-day kinder programs, and for one very important reason: daycare! While this particular study used data collected in Hong Kong, parents in America can certainly relate to the point made by researchers: many families simply don't have access to regular, affordable daycare, so keeping kids in school for the full day where they would be looked after and guided by education professionals is the best possible scenario. We've talked a lot recently about how hard it is for the average American family to afford adequate daycare for their kids, so we have to agree here: in the absence of an affordable option for families, keeping kiddos in kinder for the full school day certainly seems like the best bet.

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