Half Day Kindergarten vs Full Day?

In Alberta, Kindergarten is government funded based on a model of part-time instruction. This can mean a half day program (like ours) provided 5 days per week. That half day can be either a morning or afternoon class. Other schools have moved to offering a full day of Kindergarten 2 days per week, with the addition of a third day (usually a Friday) offered once a month. A few other programs are offering a full day, five days a week with parents paying tuition to cover the doubled hours of instruction.

We see better retention of learning from one day to the next when children consistently attend class. This builds confidence and pride in their accomplishments, and gives us more time to move forward with new things.

Our program continues to operate as a half day program offered 5 days per week. Our one and only focus for the last 50 years has been to provide excellence in Kindergarten education. We make our decisions based upon providing the best possible educational opportunities and experiences for our families, and it is our experience and belief that attending class for 5 half days a week is a better option for children at this stage of development.  

Attending school each day provides consistency and continuity for these early learners. Consistency is always helpful for children, and when you are building new skills in communication, social interactions, and following directions, a daily repeat offers a wonderful learning boost and builds confidence. The same applies to the academic concepts that we are teaching in class. We see better retention of learning from one day to the next when children consistently attend class. This builds confidence and pride in their accomplishments, and gives us more time to move forward with new things. The five day gap between a Wednesday or Thursday school day and the following Monday or Tuesday is a significant amount of time to a child, and time is spent getting “back in the groove” and reviewing what you were last learning.

When students attend school each day, our teacher or teacher’s aide can also more easily identify, monitor, and provide time to those children who will benefit from some one-on-one attention – to either to catch up on a learning goal or to extend their learning if they are ready for greater challenges. It is also easier for our staff to monitor your child’s progress from day to day and provide feedback and encouragement. (“Yesterday we saw you use lower case letters. I know you can do that again today!”)

There are other benefits: the length of a half day is not overwhelming to children at this age. This is especially a concern at the start of the school year when most children are growing accustomed to a new environment, new challenges, and growing in maturity. Attending school each day also guarantees that your child will have social interaction with their peers each day, and provides the opportunity for a change half way through the day. The other half of the day remains open for play dates, activities, time with younger siblings, rest, or appointments. Children attending childcare options also benefit from a new environment for the other half of their day. New activities and interactions help maintain interest levels and provide learning experiences. 

There has been long standing discussion about the possibility of government funding being increased to cover full day kindergarten. This scenario contemplates full days, five days a week. If this ever came to be, we would continue to see the benefits of consistency, continuity, and learning retention that we see with our 5 day, half day program. This option would see us adjusting our classroom environment and dynamics to accommodate a doubling of instruction hours, while continuing to make sure we offered lots of variety, choice and options within the classroom.