Half Day Verses Full Day Kindergarten

Updated on September 09, 2014
R.S. asks from Lone Tree, CO
23 answers


I have been getting conflicting opinions and I want to see what all of you think. My daughter will be starting kindergarten next year and the school offers free half day or tuition based full day. The full day tuition is expensive (5,000) to add the afternoon. We had planned on putting her in the full day but now I am debating it. I think she will be well prepared academically to start kindergarten but I also don't want to have to worry about doing lots of homework with her every evening. She has been home most of the her life with part time daycare. This year she is in full day preschool 3 days a week and is super tired at the end of the day. My husband started picking her up at 2 in the afternoon( he has a flexible work schedule) because its such a s long day for her.
So, what have you ladies done and what do you think?

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So What Happened?

So just to clarify, it would be the same school, our local public school which has a good reputation. I am worried about homework if she were in the half day, not full day program as the two classes are responsible for the same curriculum so I have heard the half day expects more parent support with academics.
Tuition isnt a big issue as much as I want it to be worthwhile, its 5000 to add 3 and a half hours to the day.

Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

my kids went to half-day kindergarten and we LOVED it.
they did great in school. they absolutely did NOT 'need' full-day kindergarten to be 'prepared.'

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm a believer in half day kindergarten. I like the progression of 3 yr preschool being 2 morning a week, 4 yr being 3 mornings a week, and then K being 5 mornings a week. They have the rest of their lives to go to school/work all day. Let them be little while they are!

My older two were as prepared for first grade as their all day peers. My youngest is now in half day K and I know that he will be as well.

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answers from Grand Forks on

My kids did half day kindergarten. Half days are an excellent transition to school. The only benefit to full day kindergarten is that working parents don't have to find daycare for half the day. I would say put her in half day and enjoy the extra time you have with her this year. $5000 will pay for lots of trips to the zoo, museum, YMCA, bowling, mini-golfing, amusement parks, concerts, water parks and art galleries!

ETA: In our school division some schools have moved to full day kindergarten. These are typically the schools in the lower income areas where the parents need the full day care at no extra cost. The curriculum at the full day schools is identical to the curriculum at the half day schools. The second half of the school day is simply glorified day care. I would ask if there is any advantage to full day, but I doubt there is. It is probably just convenient daycare.

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answers from Washington DC on

My vote is to go with half D. based solely on her energy level and her age. If after full D. at preschool she is exhausted then going every single day is going to be just as bad or worse, especially if she's going full D.. There is no real academic benefit for her going for a full day and it's my personal belief that children learn best by playing, particularly young children & the more time she has to just play the better.
Plus, that $5000 can be put to way better use such as field trips or fun classes/lessons than to sit at a school for a full day.
Hope you find what works best for your family!

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answers from Boston on

I don't think kindergarten is about academics - or it shouldn't be. They're still little and they learn in many ways - by playing especially. If your daughter is still so tired at the end of the long day and she's only going 3 days a week, you're already not getting your money's worth. To pay so much tuition for 5 full days and then risk that she's either too tired to get much out of it, or you'll be getting calls to pick her up because she fell asleep doesn't make a lot of sense. The half day kids and the full day kids are going to move on to first grade, so I wouldn't take any pressure from people who tell you that your child will be behind or that their little geniuses would be bored with a half day program. Enjoy the half days with her, let her play, do fun things like nature walks and reading books, and she will be fine.

I agree with Canuck that full day K helps working parents more than it advances the kids. I also agree with her that $5000 will pay for a museum membership and zoo trips. That's what we did and it absolutely paid off.

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answers from Boston on

Much of the information you need depends on your school system. Some schools are providing curriculum in kindergarten than matches what first grade accomplished 10 years ago. If that is true for your system, and you think your daughter will need the academics, you may choose to go full day.

Otherwise, the kindergarten year could be her last year for a half-day of school, with all sorts of wonderful play opportunities in the other half of the day. Just imagine the social, physical and intellectual growth she could experience playing at home and at the playground, going to museums, orchards, the aquarium, the florist, the library, and everywhere else with Mom or Dad. Now, if Mom and Dad or parent surrogate is not available, then there is nothing wrong with full-day, but I don't think it is necessary for most children. As for homework, I'd ask parents whose children went half-day how much that entails. (And if it's a lot, I'd wonder about that. ) Take care.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Our district has half day.
IF a child is shown to need "extra" help-they are offered the full day (generally O. full class out of 5 or 6).
Parents CAN request the full day IF there is room and IF their schedules absurdly require it.
Academically? Half day is fine.
I know there is a huge push for full day. It IMO, it's because both parents work and it's more convenient.

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answers from Washington DC on


You've answered your own question. Your daughter is super tired at the end of the day - why put her through full day if you don't HAVE to?

She'll be going to school FIVE days a week vs 3 days a week. Let her go half time. If during they year - say January time frame she is acclimated to half days and could do full? Find out if the school will let you go full time for the last 5 to six months of the year.

Otherwise? Half day.

My kids all went to full day (8AM to 2:45 PM) kindergarten. They enjoyed it and transitioned well from pre-school to Kindergarten.

Do what works for your daughter.

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answers from Los Angeles on

It sounds like your daughter would do best in the half day program. If she's really tired after three full days, imagine how unbelievably exhausted she would be after five full days. Even going from three full days to five half days will actually make her more tired - going every day is a big adjustment, even if there are fewer hours in the day.

Kindergarten is not meant to be too rigorous. Chances are the kids in the full day program won't be all that much ahead of the half day kids when they start first grade. I would imagine the afternoon isn't going to have a lot of serious academics.

Stick to the half day and save your money, or use it toward some extracurricular activities.

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answers from Reading on

Our district only offers full day. I just found out this year, you can by law demand to go only half a day, but they don't ever tell you that. So my kids went full day. To me, it was a waste of time. My younger could have still benefitted from a nap. And the amount of time wasted at school was ridiculous. I would volunteer and watch gobs and gobs of time wasted on nonsense when I could have been spending one on one time reading or doing kitchen science or playing math games at home. We could have been taking fun rec center classes or going to the zoo or any number of fun things. It was the last year for each of them I got to have them home with me, and to go from a few days of three hour preschool to five full days was too stressful on them, and I could have made much better use of the time. And I would never in a million years pay for it - I didn't want them there full day to begin with, I sure wouldn't pay for it on top of it. What is the big rush? You'll have her at school full time soon enough. And once school starts, the district will decide everything about your life - from what time you get up and go to bed, what time breakfast and dinner must be, even how you spend your free time once serious homework is in the mix. I resent how invasive the school is on our family's daily schedule now that I have two older kids. I sure wish I had those afternoons back.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Full day is always better because they do work in the afternoon after nap time. After Christmas they wean them off naps entirely.

I think I would never pay for school like this. $5000 is enough to buy a car or remodel a room in the home to some extent.

That's crazy to pay that much per year for elementary school. Kids all know pretty much the same things when they graduate high school. They all start off as freshmen in college. Even I, with my issues in higher math, tested out of basic math. Most people right out of high school can test out of entry level classes if they pursue that option.


Full day is always better because they do work in the afternoon after nap time. After Christmas they wean them off naps entirely.

I think I would never pay for school like this. $5000 is enough to buy a car or remodel a room in the home to some extent.

That's crazy to pay that much per year for elementary school. Kids all know pretty much the same things when they graduate high school. They all start off as freshmen in college. Even I, with my issues in higher math, tested out of basic math. Most people right out of high school can test out of entry level classes if they pursue that option.

Public school should be free, why can they charge you for public school and especially in this amount?

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answers from Washington DC on

I"m still confused. Around here, in our public schools, the schedule is the schedule - there is no option to "buy" more hours of what is supposed to be free and equally available public education.

What you describe sounds to me like having kids do two half-days. We had EITHER AM half-day and PM half-day and kids were assigned to one or the other but there was no option to do both if you paid for it. The teachers would have been overwhelmed with kids whose parents wanted "full-day K" mostly as a babysitter (which is why there is a "school-aged child care" program in our schools, so there is a day care option at school for parents who can't pick up a child after a half-day of K). Plus, the afternoon K was a repeat of, not an extension of, the AM K.

I at first thought you were describing a school-based child care program -- but it seems your school system is selling extra seats to those who can pay. That's what confuses me -- I didn't think a public school could provide different levels of education to those who can pay for it. That's private schooling.

I really would check into what exactly goes into those hours. I would question whether the staff is teachers all day long, or child care staff or aides at times. I would check into exactly what it means when they say that "the two classes are responsible for the same curriculum" as you said -- does that just mean that the PM session repeats the AM curriculum? That could bore your kid stiff, frankly. What really goes on?

I am not keen on full-day kindergarten for most kids, though some do need it. For kids who have had a good, solid preschool experience, half-day can achieve as much as full-day IF the teacher is good and keeps the class focused. Also, many kids at five still need down time each day.

Unfortunately, our system has gone to full-day K because the schools believe that is the way to raise test scores in later years.

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answers from New York on

We only had half day as an option. I was upset in a way at first bc their preschool was longer. But looking back, who cares. They're so young. Let her just do half a day if she's tired as it is. Don't force it. A full day might be too much and she starts dreading school. She'll be in full day soon enough.

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answers from Austin on

The public schools charge for full day kindergarten?

Here in our city it is full day and our taxes pay for this since they are public schools.

I would find out what the difference is in full day vs, half day.

I think if it is continued instruction along with the lunch, second recess, art and music and gym, I would want our daughter to be in all day. It prepares them for first grade which moves along pretty fast. They will have a heads up and so will you as to how their schedule during a full school day will work best for your child. bet they get a bit of a rest period after lunch.

In first grade they will usually come back to the classroom from lunch and the teacher will read to them for a little while, then they continue with their teaching.

If your child is good at following directions and paying attention, she can handle all day. Sure she will be tired at the end of the day, but she will perk up after a snack and outside play. Then she can come inside and work on "homework" which honestly. most kindergartners love to do,, they love showing their parents what they are learning. while you prepare dinner.

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answers from Chicago on

if they are charging you for the full day it is more than likely a daycare type situation in the afternoon. I would inquire and ask it in just those terms. the schools around here (public) charge a set amount for school fees. I think full day kindergarten is $200 for the year. not $5000 it is not the norm for a public school.

sorry I totally didn't answer the question I was so shocked at a $5000 price tag for public school lol. But in answer I would yes to the full day. they still get a rest time and also recess time etc. should not get excessive homework in kindergarten. maybe some reading time and maybe a worksheet copying letters and numbers.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would do half day if you have the choice which it sounds like you do.

Too much for the little kids.

We don't have the choice in our district & it is hard. I think they waste a
lot of time on stuff that is not academic that he could be doing at home.

My youngest is so very tired. By Wed he's fit to be tied, always tired &
is tired in the mornings no matter how early bedtime can be. Our school
used to have 1/2 day kinder. I think it's all tied to funding & it's too bad.

While he first loved it, he's having a harder time now because the days
are so long.

Again, if you have a choice, I'd do half day kinder. They have to go to
school for 12 more years anyway so why make their first exposure to
school more difficult. I think it's best to ease them into their school
careers but we don't have a choice in our district. Sad.

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answers from Boston on

Both my kids did half day since that is all our town offered at the time. However, there were several options: 5 morning or 5 afternoons or 2.5 days (which meant Mon AM, then all day Tues+Thurs, or Mon PM then all day Wed+Fri). My first child did 5 afternoons and my second did the Mon PM+Wed+Fri full day.
The teachers told us that the negative with 5 half days is: saying goodbye 5 times and short lessons. With the 2.5 days schedule the negative is that some kids just are not yet ready for full days and the on/off schedule can be difficult for some. But if your option is free or high price I would go for the free option.

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answers from San Francisco on

IMHO, I think full day kindergarten is too much. Give her a chance to get used to going to school five days a week before you add the additional afternoon hours. I don't think it's necessary and obviously the school doesn't really either or else ALL kindergarten classes would be full day at no charge. Basically you're paying for after school/daycare that you don't need.

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answers from Hartford on

I am a big supporter of full day K. My son would have been bored in half day K because he was used to being in preschool. The first month or two can be a big rough. Either way she will have to eventually go to full time school. Full day K will also allow her to adjust to the school setting and give her a chance to meet classmates.


answers from Dallas on

When my daughter was in K we had the option of morning 1/2 day or afternoon 1/2 day in our school system. No full day option. This was in 2000.

The following year, it was changed to full day for all K's. There was no tuition for this because it is a public school system and one of the higher rated ones in the country and still is.

I also sub teach and have 14yrs now and we don't give K students HW. They do work, stations, centers, all in class. They are not working the entire school day 7:45-2:45. YES, they take things home for parents to see but no structured HW.

An example of a K's day at our elementary is...

start day with locker routine and go to your desk to start morning work (this is usually the letter of the day, etc simple worksheet to practice writing ,coloring and sometimes cutting.

After tardy bell, sit in your spot on the floor with teacher, go through pledges, morning announcements and then the teacher explains what they will be doing for the day, someone changes the calendar, counts the days of school, sing songs for the days of the week, weather, color of the week, etc.

Go to stations where children are in 3-4 groups. Each group goes to a specified station... computer time (reading or keyboarding), desk time - independent work and teacher table where teacher has small groups and focuses on 1 thing for the day. Weekly library time is in the time frame as well.

By 11, they have a snack and recess outside for 30 minutes.

Come back in and go to centers where there is active play with centers set up with art, building blocks, play school, house, etc.

By 12:20 they clean up and have lunch 12:30-1, recess 1-1:30.

Rest time with lights out and soft music 1:30-1:55

2-2:45 they go to "specials" which is PE, Art or Music.

The day is very structured and a lot of instruction takes place, but with K, they are learning basics so they are ready for 1st grade. We focus on sight words, writing name, counting, computer time, reading just to name a few. The point if to get them accustomed to the school routine, schedules and rules.

If your daughter has been in structured preschool and is ready academically, she can handle all day K. I would not keep her out of all day K due to the extra tuition or fear of HW.

Talk to your specific school and get a class schedule to see how her day would be structured as well. At our school, parents are welcome to sign in and visit the classes to get a feel for what K is like when their children are about ready to start K. A lot of them also take their children to the cafeteria for lunch so they are familiar with what is going on months before they actually start K.

Good luck, the time flies!!



answers from Jacksonville on

How much extra would she be.learning in the afternoon? Would it give her an advantage going into first? Here we only have all day K. Pre-K is half day, but my daughter went to wrap around, so full day K wasn't a big deal to her. Also, here first grade is when it starts to get serious and it would be less of a transition going into first if she went full day. It's a huge change anyway, but I can't imagine going from 3 hours of basically coloring, singing, and "fun" learning into all day spelling tests, worksheets, and desk learning!



answers from Cleveland on

I would go right to the school and get answers to what the schedule for the afternoon is. Do the teachers actally give kids time to do homework in the afternoon? how much homework are we talking?, mine did not have much.

if your child has an easy personality reading with her or doing some adding together shouldn't be hard.

I would have loved half days if I was able to have someone be home with my kids.



answers from Las Vegas on

My son just started kindergarten this year, and he goes to the only full day kindergarten in my city (a charter school), that is also more advanced than the normal schools in our district. He missed the deadline by a few days last year so he is now 6, and I really wanted him to go to full day K because he was ready last year, and we are also planning on moving next summer and the school system will most likely be much better anywhere we go and I didn't want to be behind when that happens. Although he has been able to handle it really well (it has been almost a month now), he isn't tired, he can site patiently for a long time, and his three recesses don't hurt, he is constantly telling me that school is too long, and I actually agree. He is there for 7 and a half hours every day, and he isn't learning that much more than he would if he was in half day. In fact, I think he sits around a lot waiting for other kids because he is able to do things faster. I kind of wish we had just gone with half day, especially since he has the next 12 years to sit in class for 7 or 8 hours. As for the homework, I highly doubt the half day has that much. My son is only doing a few pages a day in school, they do a lot of drawing based on what they are learning, so maybe one page of that, plus two math sheets (one comes as homework), and then they do one or two pages of writing at school. So rather than one page of homework (which takes less than 10 minutes) you might have 3 or 4, that isn't that bad if the school is only half day. Over the summer my son was doing about 10 1st grade level workbook pages a day, and that didn't take that long.

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