The debate between full-day and half-day kindergarten is an old one that continues today. Since parents in many states have to pay for full-day programs as opposed to free half-day programs, sending your child to full-day kindergarten may only make sense if you are sure that your child will benefit from it. While there are many academic and social benefits of full-day kindergarten, it can be hard to tell if your particular child will be successful at a full-day kindergarten or if they would be better off attending a half-day program and then returning home or attending private daycare for the rest of the day.
Below are five signs that your child will be successful at a full-day kindergarten.
Your Child is Enthusiastic About Learning
If your child is enthusiastic about learning and likes to play school or pretend to read books, then they are likely to be successful in a kindergarten environment. This is common among children who have older siblings because they want to emulate the formal learning environment their older sibling attends. However, if your child does not have older children around them or does not show interest in formal education, you can help inspire them by reading stories or watching television shows about school and studying.
If your child shows little or no interest in formal education, they may be more successful in a half-day program, after which they can play in an informal setting for the rest of the day.
Your Child Can Concentrate on a Single Activity for a Significant Amount of Time
In kindergarten, your child will be asked to complete projects that may take a significant amount of time, such as working on an art project or sitting still during story time. The average five year old can concentrate on a single task for four to twenty minutes. If your child has trouble concentrating on activities for more than a few minutes, you may need to work with them to extend their concentration before they can be successful at a full-day kindergarten. To help extend their attention span, you can work on activities together and limit screen time throughout the day.
Your Child Does Not Need a Long Afternoon Nap
While many full-day kindergarten programs offer afternoon naps, they are often shorter than the nap that your child would take in the comfort of their own home or in a daycare center that is set up specifically for napping. If your child still takes a one to two hour nap every day, you may want to enroll them in a half-day program to make sure they are getting the sleep they need to keep growing and developing. Otherwise, you may consider putting them to bed earlier in order to decrease their afternoon nap.
The School Your Child Will Attend Integrates Play With Learning
Your child's success does not only depend on your child's readiness for kindergarten, but also on the quality of the kindergarten program you enroll them in. If the school concentrates too heavily on academics, your child may get tired and frustrated during a full-day program. A kindergarten program that integrates active play with learning will help your child transition from preschool or home care into an academic life.
Classroom Time is Broken Up Into Large and Small Group Learning
Young children require one-on-one interaction as well as small group activities. If the kindergarten program your child is enrolled in breaks up the day into large group and small group activities, it is more likely that your child will get the attention they need to be successful at a full-day program.
A full-day program can benefit your child in the future, but you need to make sure that your child is ready for the program and that the program fits your child's needs. Consider contacting local kindergarten programs for more information on what's available in your area.