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OISE study shows that full-day kindergarten has lasting benefits on children

January 14, 2019

In September 2010, the Ontario government implemented a two-year, full-day kindergarten (FDK) program as part of its initiative to create a cohesive, coordinated system for early years programs and services across the province.

This decision seems to be paying off, according to a recent study co-authored by OISE professor Janette Pelletier.

The study found that FDK has lasting benefits on children’s behaviour and learning. While some argue that the gains of FDK fade quickly, Pelletier’s research shows that children in this program scored higher on reading, writing and number knowledge than those in a half-day program and remained ahead until the end of Grade 2.

Children in FDK also scored higher on self-regulation, which is the capacity to respond to life’s stresses and return to a calm and alert state. Self-regulation in early childhood is especially important and is a strong predictor of academic achievement. Additionally, FDK children were significantly more likely to meet provincial academic expectations in Grade 3.

Part of Ontario’s FDK program was the implementation of a new curriculum with a play-based approach to learning. The study found that FDK children FDK reported more often that play is important, while HDK children reported that learning activities are most important. Yet, FDK children actually performed better in those activities.

Read the full study: A longitudinal comparison of learning outcomes in full-day and half-day kindergarten