Q:

I am beginning to wonder if I have made the right decision. I put my daughter in a half-day rather than a full-day kindergarten program, as she still takes a nap at home some days. I didn't want her to get overtired at school. What is the big difference between half-day and full-day programs? - Second Thoughts

A:

Relax; you have probably made the right decision for your child. If she will be attending a quality half-day program, she should be getting an adequate preparation, both socially and academically, for first grade. In fact, some educators argue that one of the benefits of half-day programs is that they are a better match for children's shorter attention spans. They also can benefit children by giving them more time to be involved with family and community activities. Plus, the fact that your child still naps at times makes half-day kindergarten a good choice for her.

Overall, recent research is showing that developmentally appropriate full-day programs do have some benefits over half-day programs. In general, children in the full-day programs showed more positive behaviors. Also, children in the longer kindergarten programs are making greater gains in both reading and math when measured on tests given at the beginning and end of the year. Plus, there is some evidence that attending full-day programs makes it less likely that children will be retained later on in school.

Admittedly there are differences between full-day and half-day programs. The longer program simply offers more time for typical kindergarten activities. More time is spent on reading and language arts each day, as well as on social studies and science. More time is also available for free play, independent work and physical activities.