Kindergarten: My Thoughts on the Full Day Change

Ann Arbor Public Schools are switching to full day kindergarten district wide. This year, a full-day kindergarten is the only option at several schools. At other schools, half-day kindergarten is the norm with a paid option for full-day and/or the K-care program (provided there is sufficient interest). Personally, I am thrilled that they are changing to a consistent district-wide policy. I thought it was ridiculous that just by living a few blocks in a different direction you would have to pay $3500 for what someone else was getting for free.

When my daughter was a baby, I was glad that Ann Arbor had half-day Kindergarten. Half-day kindergarten is what I was used to growing up. However, as she got older, I realized she would be ready for full day kindergarten and was leaning that way. However, the school she goes to has a half-day program and since we did not need child-care could not justify spending the extra $3500. This year she is in half-day kindergarten and I see definite disadvantages to half-day kindergarten.

The First Day of Kindergarten

After nearly 6 months of school, I still think a full-day kindergarten would have been a good choice for her. While she was still tired at the beginning of the year from getting up early, I think she would have adjusted quickly. One problem that we have had is that most of her friends who are not in her current class are in either all-day or afternoon kindergarten so she is often bored in the afternoon and looking for something to do. There are very few classes that I can sign her up for in the afternoon since those are mostly for pre-schoolers.

I have been helping out in my daughter’s class every other week. I usually help the day my daughter’s class has both gym and computer lab, so the actual classroom time is really short with two specials. From my observations as a parent, not an educator and without regard to the cost/logistical implications.

Disadvantages to Half-Day


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  • Kids miss all school activities that are held during the opposite class. My daughter’s school splits events so that some are in the morning and others are in the afternoon. I have brought my daughter back for several events so that she can still participate.
  • A half-day is very broken up with specials leaving less time for learning.
  • Less free time with their classmates 
  • Many kids spend the remainder of the day in aftercare, K-care, or other care situation so there would be consistency of having them remain with the same teacher, classroom, and classmates
  • It is harder to participate in after school activities since it requires returning to school (if you are in the morning class)
  • Field Trip scheduling is hard with half-day classes. When my daughter’s class has a field trip they typically return after the normal end of the school day. Conversely, they leave before the afternoon class time, so they need to arrive early.
  • Very limited interaction with the other kindergarten classes because they aren’t at school at the same time and sharing recesses.

I have a few additional thoughts on the administrative/financial decision making here. First, I am surprised that schools were receiving the same funding from the state for a half-day kindergartener as for a full-day kindergartener. So I completely understand the state decreasing how much they pay for a half-day kindergartener. I understand the financial incentive to make the switch to full-day kindergarten. However, I feel that there should have been the opportunity for input from the community. My other thought is that this decision is coming a little late for the 2012-2013 school year. Kindergarten RoundUps have already started at many Ann Arbor elementary schools and parents have not had the opportunity to prepare their child for full-day kindergarten with their choices for the pre-kindergarten year.

What are your thoughts on half-day vs full-day kindergarten?

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Anna Mae

Anna Mae owns & operates Ann Arbor with Kids, a website dedicated to Family Activities in Ann Arbor. My husband and I moved to Ann Arbor in 2003 and our daughter joined the family in 2006.

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One comment

  • Anonymous

    I feel full day is better. More time for learning, less disconnect on days with specials, and more social interaction opportunities. If you were not aware, full day was reqiured some years ago, and schools that needed time to restructure had a grace period, but that expired a few years ago and schools not in compliance have had to pay a hefty fine, which means less money for students and salaries. My child was fortunate to go to full day and adjusted very quickly.

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