Most parents agree on the benefits of kindergarten (kinder). But which option is best: sessional or full-day?
For those families where both parents are in paid employment, full-day may be the only option, as it provides a kinder program and meets child care needs. Others have a preference for shorter, half-day programs. And then there are those who combine the two – supplementing sessional kinder with a full-day program.
So, what’s the best choice? As for most parenting decisions, it depends on what’s best for you and your child. There is, however, a growing body of evidence on the benefits of full-day kinder.
According to the Centre for Evaluation and Education Policy in the US, there is “substantial research which shows that relative to half-day programs, full-day kinder is associated with a wide range of positive outcomes including increased student achievement and social and behavioural development.” (Education Policy Brief, Vol 3, No. 4, Spring 2005).
Locally, the Australian Association for Research in Education published a paper about a 2004 study in which prep teachers from 38 Tasmanian state schools provided data in response to a postal survey. Test scores in the areas of early literacy and numeracy were received for 884 prep students.
The results showed there were “clear academic advantages for children associated with having attended full-day sessions at kindergarten the previous year”.
Why is this so?
One of the benefits we see is that the children get uninterrupted blocks of play where they can undertake problem-solving and exploration; sometimes coming back to an experience at a later stage.
Having more time, in conjunction with smaller numbers of children, means we have the opportunity to spend quality one-on-one time with the children and implement small group experiences too.
Kindergarten is about having the opportunity for fun and also developing social and emotional skills, maturity and motor skills. School readiness is one of our key objectives for our kinder children. We believe that building strong foundations for future learning is important, but so too is the development of a healthy sense of self and independence, and empathy for others.
And from the parents’ perspective? Our kinder program finishes at 4pm, but many of the children stay back later. This means that when parents come for pick up, there isn’t a big rush out the door and we have the chance to discuss the day with each family.