Full day va half day — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Full day va half day

Our town is considering moving to full day. They are doing a survey asking if they offered full day and half days which would you prefer. If they offered both I would prefer full day because I do not want my kid to be unprepared for first grade but i am torn between even wanting full day. I think they need more time in the day to teach the kids but I also think the kids need more time at home. And I already think so much of kindergarten is busywork, we have a pretty good school system but I do not like the curriculum and I think teachers are made to follow it so closely right now that teachers are not encouraged to get creative.

Your thoughts?
Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08

Re: Full day va half day

  • Our district only offers FULL day.  We do half day PreK3 then Prek4 and KG are full day.  I only know full day.  

    First of all KG, is far from busy work.  The intent of KG is to get a child used to the educational and social processes of school which, in turn, make the transition from KG to 1st easier.  It is also meant to be fun, so that there is a basis of school is good/fun in the early years.  Letter and letter sounds and numbers 1-20 are reviewed.  Beginning reading & sight words are EXPECTED by the end of the year. A child is expected to be a leveled D reader by the end of KG.  (This includes my high ESL school--where over half the kids need review or being taught the basics).  Most educational time is done in the AM with lunch, recess, nap, PE/specials in the afternoon.  Over the years of reading these boards, the difference in full day & half appears to be in the area of specials.  Half day does not attend art class, PE, technology, music, etc. Some don't do lunch.  Naps are given only during the 1st semester they are expected to outgrow it by the second semester.  There is also a recess or free play during the afternoon.  The kids are expected to learn movement between classes, hallway etiquette, sharing, getting along with others (OMG let me tell you about the tattle-telling in KG)~ this is all stuff that doesn't fly in 1st grade.  1s grade t is much, much more academic.  KG & 1st grade have changed greatly since we were children and as preschool has become more common.  It is not all fluff. 


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  • I would LOVE full day here. Unless, NJ mandates it--it isn't happening. We tried to pass a vote for a few years ago, and the town voted it down.

    Our half day kindergartners-4 times a week get specials (music, library, gym and art) for 30 minutes a day. Plus they have snack.  

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  • My son is in Kindergarten. The busy work comment is really more the homework but honestly some of the work I feel my son is doing in school, and I am saying this here but to him just praise his work. But he is already reading beyond a D level, can count past 1000, know all of the Dolce sight words through 3rd grade, etc and his homework involves counting counters up to 20 and tracing the letters, practicing letters and sounds and a few basic sight words it feels like busy work even though I know a lot of kids need the work.

    And I know there is a ton he is leaning in Kindergarten as far as the flow, etc but I still feel torn about more of it, right now our Kindergarteners have Art and a joke of a Spanish program they watch a Spanish video with zero instruction a few times a month but no library, no gym, no computers and no music, I think if I knew they would get all the specials and less homework I would feel more confident about it.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • My daughter is in half day K because it's what our town currently offers. There are definitely not enough hours of instruction and I wish it were full day. Starting next Sept our school will be switching to full day (they're currently building an addition to accommodate full day) and I'm so glad.

    On Back to School Night when the teacher was going over the curriculum I was amazed and wondering how on earth they would manage all they do with 3 hours a day (especially since they lose 40 minutes to a "special" every day, which is something I don't want them giving up on). The teacher basically said that even compared to 5 years ago the demands have increased so much that half day is just no longer an option.

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  • imagepenguingrrl:
    My daughter is in half day K because it's what our town currently offers. There are definitely not enough hours of instruction and I wish it were full day. Starting next Sept our school will be switching to full day they're currently building an addition to accommodate full day and I'm so glad.On Back to School Night when the teacher was going over the curriculum I was amazed and wondering how on earth they would manage all they do with 3 hours a day especially since they lose 40 minutes to a "special" every day, which is something I don't want them giving up on. The teacher basically said that even compared to 5 years ago the demands have increased so much that half day is just no longer an option.

    Wow, specials every day? Because of halfday our Kindergarten only gets one a week, actually they now usually go to the gym on Friday too but that is unofficial. In first they will have six specials and they might even have two days of gym so that would be seven. If I knew they could have those fun things plus lunch I would feel much better. I will definitely start going to BoE meetings. .
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • imageLittlejen22:
    imagepenguingrrl:
    My daughter is in half day K because it's what our town currently offers. There are definitely not enough hours of instruction and I wish it were full day. Starting next Sept our school will be switching to full day they're currently building an addition to accommodate full day and I'm so glad.On Back to School Night when the teacher was going over the curriculum I was amazed and wondering how on earth they would manage all they do with 3 hours a day especially since they lose 40 minutes to a "special" every day, which is something I don't want them giving up on. The teacher basically said that even compared to 5 years ago the demands have increased so much that half day is just no longer an option.
    Wow, specials every day? Because of halfday our Kindergarten only gets one a week, actually they now usually go to the gym on Friday too but that is unofficial. In first they will have six specials and they might even have two days of gym so that would be seven. If I knew they could have those fun things plus lunch I would feel much better. I will definitely start going to BoE meetings. .

    Yup. Twice a cycle they have Spanish (2 20 minute sessions instead of 1 40), then there's gym, art, music, media (library and computer). They're on a 6 day "cycle" to one day there's no special and on that day they get recess. No snack time. So the change to full day will just more than double instruction time even accounting for lunch and recess.

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  • Thanks ladies. I will respond to the survey stating I prefer fullday but in the comments mention I only agree with it if they get more specials and less homework.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • My state switched from 1/2 to full day K after my DD started 1st grade, so I have experienced each type of K.

    Sigh.  Such a tough call.  Here are some of my observations about the pros and cons of both models:

    1/2 day K:  This model probably has the most to offer a family with a SAH parent.  1/2 day is a good transition to "real" school in 1st grade. But the obvious drawback is that there just isn't a ton of time in a 2.5 hour school day to lots of academic instruction.  You're pretty much talking: opening circle, centers/literacy/reading, whole group instruction on writing/math/social studies/science, independent work, closing meeting, go home.  When my DD was in K, the teachers focused mostly on reading/literacy skills and did very little in the way of math instruction.  They did not have "specials" at all in K.  But, I LOVED that my child, who turned 5 in the second week of school, went through a curriculum that was based mostly on socialization and school readiness.  

    Full day K:  In a school district where lots of families have had children in full day daycare or preschool, full day K makes a lot of sense.  In my state, when they switched to full day K, they also changed to age cutoff from 12/31 to 8/31.  Many more parents now hold kids with late birthdays back a year. (I did, and honestly, the fact that K was full day was a huge factor in this decision.)  However, I was very pleased with my son's full day K curriculum.  He was in a leveled reading group from about October on.  He did math every day, had real homework each week, learned spelling words and had quizzes, went to specials, had real science and social studies lessons and activities.  Essentially, it was comparable to my DD's experiences in 1st grade.

    What I voted for in your situation would depend on whether or not I was home.  If I was at home, I'd vote for 1/2 day, figuring that p/t school + mom enrichment = ready for 1st.  If I worked and my kids were in daycare/preschool anyway, I'd vote for full day K, figuring that since my kids are already socialized to a structured day spent with a teacher anyway, they might as well get the ball really rolling academically. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • Our district only offers full day kindergarten. 4K was half days, and it seemed like there really wasn't enough time for the teachers to get through all the materials. I didn't feel like DD1 had a lot of busy work in 5K last year. Her teacher made good use of their time, and she also had daily specials, recess, lunch, etc. I prefer full day 5K. Also, based on the amount of material that they've covered already in 1st grade, I'm not sure 1/2 day 5K would have been sufficient.
    Annalise Marie 05.29.06
    Charlotte Ella 07.16.10
    Emmeline Grace 03.27.13
  • Neverblushed,
    I am a SAHM so that is a huge part of my hesitation, My kids went/go to a Montessori preschool so it is 5 days a week 2.5 hours a day and then DS is in Kindergarten 2h40m a day, the rest of the time he is with me. If I still had the kids in daycare then it would be a nobrainier but K is the last year I get that time with them and it would be the last year I have time alone with DD, people thought I was nuts when put the kids in at different times but I live that they each get time with me.

    And I have no idea where DD will be academically in Sept 2013 but DS can read a level 2 reader with no assistance and is reading the second Flat Stanley with me right now, he is learning a ton in school but he is not learning to read and add there, he knows that and he is not bring pushed beyond his level there, I do not know if that would be different in full day although I think I would be more proactive with the school demanding it if he was there full day, I am mostly sitting back and letting him learn other things like following directions at school and making sure he progresses at home. And I worry that full day will burn them out. I wish there was some organization to it but I have a feeling if it gets approved they will be struggling to figure it out after the fact I stead of before.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • DH and I are pro 1/2 day.  I don't think a 5-6 year old should have to sit in a class all day.  We have brain surgeons and rocket scientists, inventors and every other profession in generations older than DH and I, we went to 1/2 day.  This "kids have more to learn now days" is BS (is that extra 1/2 day in K really going to make such a HUGE difference in the grand scheme of things) IMO.  Our kids will either be homeschooled or will go to a private school that has 1/2 day. 

    GSx1 - 05/13/2013
    GSx2 for T&B - EDD 6/21/2015 - They're having a GIRL
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    BabyGaga
  • I disagree on kindergarten being busy work - at least not at my school.  Personally, I don't think a half day of school, which at most schools is on average 2 1/2 hours is enough to do anything.    I pay for my DD to go to full day as my school offers half day (2 1/2 hours so not really a half day at all) for free and you can pay extra for full day assuming you can get a spot.  I am waiting to hear if my younger DD gets a full day spot for next year right now.

    In the full day class (she goes from 9:30 until 4), she does all the basics plus has 1 or 2 specials a day.  Her class goes to the library (media center which also includes the computer lab) 1x a week, she has gym 2-3 times a week, she has music 1-2 times a week.  She has a 5th grade buddy that she meets with 1-2 times a month and they do special projects together.  They do a weekly book nook where parents come in and volunteer and read to the class.  They are just finishing a special program with the local children's theather where someone came in once a week for 2 months and talked about acting and had the role play and then they went to a play.  The half day class does not do the special things like the theater thing, they do not have the 5th grade buddies and they do not do any field trips (my DD"s class has gone to the fire station across from school, the theater and they are going to a nature center next month).  The half day class one does each special 1x.  In full day, they have lunch at school they have recess.  Our school in all grades has an afternoon brain break and in the kindy class, the kids have some quiet time (some kids do fall asleep but its short, only 30 mins max).   The full day class spends a lot of extra time going over the days lessons and breaks out into smaller groups based on skills to get more individual attention.  My DD is in a special reading group with only a few kids plus she is pulled out 2x a week for a 20-30 min speech class and this is done during the classes open time (during this time, the kids are getting special help in different areas, working on art projects, reading, etc) so she doesn't miss any learning time.  The class is very well structured with learning and also with social things as learning the social side is huge at this age - especially for the kids in class that didn't go to preschool/daycare.  In a half day program, the kids need to go over the same materials but in way less time and they don't have the time to review the items in class nearly as much.

    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
  • imageLittlejen22:
    My son is in Kindergarten. The busy work comment is really more the homework but honestly some of the work I feel my son is doing in school, and I am saying this here but to him just praise his work. But he is already reading beyond a D level, can count past 1000, know all of the Dolce sight words through 3rd grade, etc and his homework involves counting counters up to 20 and tracing the letters, practicing letters and sounds and a few basic sight words it feels like busy work even though I know a lot of kids need the work. And I know there is a ton he is leaning in Kindergarten as far as the flow, etc but I still feel torn about more of it, right now our Kindergarteners have Art and a joke of a Spanish program they watch a Spanish video with zero instruction a few times a month but no library, no gym, no computers and no music, I think if I knew they would get all the specials and less homework I would feel more confident about it.

    Homework has got to be on the classes median level.  Your son may be advanced but the class may not. Curriculum's are written at an even larger scale (ie. the state, district).  The stats I listed above is what we shoot for with our high ESL-title 1 KG and its generally what the states expects at a minimum.  For some of us, its hard to reach.   We need that full day; other schools in your district may need that full day.  Our KG, has just started leveled reader groups which is a way to differentiate instruction--address each reading level.   The second half of KG tends to be a little more academic therefore perhaps it will appear to be less busy work.  I hate to say it but it seems that our school spends more time pulling up the low kids than upping the ante for the above level--then again that could also be because I do RTI (which is "pull-up" course : )  Your son may be a good candidate for gifted & talented; however, that usually isn't available til 1st grade.   


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