Ontario began to roll out full-day kindergarten in 2010. Since then more than one million children have enrolled. Some studies have found these students are better prepared for Grade 1 and outperform their half-day peers by the end of Grade 2. Other studies cast doubt on the long-term impact of the program.
- Ontario’s full-day kindergarten had little effect on literacy, math, or self-regulation skills in kindergarten students, based on items taken from the Early Development Instrument.
What is the research about?
Research shows that children in full-day kindergarten spend more quality time with their teachers and have better academic outcomes. Full-day kindergarten also promotes self-regulation.
However, there are aspects of full-day kindergarten which may make it challenging for students to self-regulate and learn effectively. Large numbers of students in physically small classrooms can make learning difficult.
Ontario implemented full-day kindergarten in 2010. The program focuses on play-based learning and a team-teaching approach.
A group of researchers from Queen’s University looked at how effective Ontario’s full-day kindergarten program was on self-regulation, literacy, and numeracy outcomes.
What did the researchers do?
The researchers analyzed Early Development Instrument (EDI) data from 2012 for 32,027 senior kindergarten students across Ontario.
- 6,453 children were in full-day kindergarten
- 25,574 children were in half-day kindergarten
The researchers used EDI questions to create measures of:
Since full-day kindergarten was not yet rolled out across the whole province, using 2012 EDI data allowed the researchers to compare children in full-day kindergarten with their half-day peers.
The goal was to see if full-day kindergarten in Ontario was associated with better self-regulation, literacy, and numeracy above and beyond the effects of:
- Age and gender
- Historical school achievement (based on 2009 EDI data)
- School socioeconomic status
What did the researchers find?
Full-day kindergarten had negative, but small, effects on self-regulation and numeracy. There was no effect on literacy.
Children from low-income families had slightly worse literacy and numeracy outcomes. Being older, female, and from a higher-income family predicted higher outcomes.
What does this research mean?
The authors suggest there is a need to improve Ontario’s full-day kindergarten program. One option they propose is limiting class sizes for more quality time between teachers and students.