Recent Research on All-Day Kindergarten (page 2)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Apr 21, 2014

Social and Behavioral Effects

Most studies on all-day kindergarten have focused on academic achievement; however, some researchers have also examined social and behavioral effects. Cryan et al. (1992) asked teachers to rate half-day and all-day kindergarten children on 14 dimensions of classroom behavior. According to researchers, a clear relationship emerged between the kindergarten schedule and children's behavior. Teachers rated children in all-day kindergarten programs higher on 9 of the 14 dimensions; there were no significant differences on the other 5 dimensions. Other researchers who have studied social and behavioral outcomes found that children in all-day kindergarten programs were engaged in more child-to-child interactions (Hough & Bryde, 1996) and that they made significantly greater progress in learning social skills (Elicker & Mathur, 1997). 

Attitudes About All-Day Kindergarten

Recently, researchers have examined parents' and teachers' attitudes towards all-day kindergarten, as well as considering academic, social, and behavioral effects. Both parents and teachers whose children were enrolled in all-day kindergarten were generally satisfied with the programs and believed that all-day kindergarten better prepared children for first grade (Hough & Bryde, 1996; Elicker & Mathur, 1997; Housden & Kam, 1992; Towers, 1991). Teachers and parents also indicated a preference for all-day kindergarten because of the more relaxed atmosphere, more time for creative activities, and more opportunity for children to develop their own interests (Elicker & Mathur, 1997). 

Parents reported that all-day kindergarten teachers provided suggestions for home activities more frequently (Hough & Bryde, 1996). They also felt that the all-day kindergarten schedule benefited their children socially (Towers, 1991). 

Teachers surveyed felt that the all-day program provided more time for individual instruction (Greer-Smith, 1990; Housden & Kam, 1992). They also indicated that they had more time to get to know their children and families, thus enabling them to better meet children's needs (Elicker & Mathur, 1997). 

Curriculum in All-Day Kindergarten

Researchers who have looked at the types of activities children are engaged in, how teachers structure time, and how teachers interact with children during instructional time have found that the greatest percentage of time in both half-day and all-day kindergarten programs is spent in teacher-directed, large-group activity (Elicker & Mathur, 1997; Morrow, Strickland, & Woo, 1998). Elicker and Mathur (1997) note that, although the average amount of time spent in large-group teacher-directed activity is greater in all-day classrooms than in half-day classrooms, the percentage of total time spent in teacher-directed activity was 16% less in all-day programs. 

Some studies (Hough & Bryde, 1996; Morrow et al., 1998) found that all-day kindergarten teachers utilized small-group instruction and provided for small-group activities more frequently than half-day teachers. Hough and Bryde also found more individualized instruction in all-day programs, when compared with half-day programs. 

An interesting pattern occurred when Elicker and Mathur (1997) compared data collected from the first and second years of their study. They noted that many of the differences in kindergarten programming became stronger during the second year of implementation. They found that children in the all-day classrooms in the second year of implementation were "initiating more learning activity and receiving more one-to-one instruction from their teachers" (p. 477). Further research in this area is needed to determine whether, over time, all-day kindergarten teachers restructure the curriculum to accommodate the increased amount of time available to them and the children in more developmentally appropriate ways. 

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