Kids who attend full-day preschool are more ready for kindergarten and had fewer absences than those in part-day programs, according to a new study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“We’ve long known that early childhood education programs are key to preparing children for school success, but the bigger question is, ‘What is the impact of increased learning time?’ ” Arthur J. Reynolds, the study’s lead researcher from the University of Minnesota, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is the first study to comprehensively examine the results of lengthening the preschool day, and it has national implications when only half of students who enter kindergarten each year are fully prepared.”
The study looked at 982 low-income, minority 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in full- and half-day programs through Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program.
Researchers found that full-day preschool was associated with higher scores in four of six school readiness skills: language, math, socio-emotional development, and physical health. There were no significant differences in two areas: literacy and cognitive development. Kids attending full-day programs also had increased attendance and fewer chronic absences compared to those in part-day programs.
Eighty percent of children attending full-day classes scored at or above national norms for kindergarten readiness, compared to 59 percent of kids attending part-day programs.