Policy Brief/Analysis

Making the Most of Kindergarten

Present Trends and Future Issues in the Provision of Full-day Programs

By Debra J. Ackerman, W. Steven Barnett, and Kenneth B. Robin
NIEER Policy Report (March 2005)


Policymakers considering the shift to full-day kindergarten should take into account what the research says about the benefits to children of full-day schedules and what it takes in terms of resources to make sure the change produces the desired results. Though full-day kindergarten has been shown to provide gains in learning outcomes over half-day for children from all backgrounds, disadvantaged children benefit most.

This policy report examines academic and social outcomes of half-day versus full-day kindergarten and trends in provision of full-day programs.

Recommendations include balancing anticipated gains from expanding kindergarten schedules against cost considerations and developing classroom and teacher support strategies when moving to full-day.

The Authors

W. Steven (Steve) Barnett is a Board of Governors Professor and the founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Barnett’s work primarily focuses on public policies regarding early childhood education, child care, and child development.