Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten

14 December 2015 Written by  
Ideally, every child would enter kindergarten prepared for academic success. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. A growing body of research shows that investment in high-quality Pre-K is the best way to help maximize the number of children who achieve school readiness by the time they reach kindergarten; but for those who do not, expanding kindergarten from half- to full-day programs is a key strategy for leveling the academic playing field moving forward.
Research comparing half- and full-day kindergarten indicates that “children benefit from a
developmentally appropriate, full-day program, most notably in terms of early academic achievement —
a foundation for school and life success. Full-day kindergarten can afford children the academic learning
time needed to prepare for mastery of primary-grade reading and math skills.”
Here in Utah, bills to expand access to Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten (OEK) programs
have already been proposed in advance of the 2016 legislative session.


Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten (OEK):

• Contributes to increased school readiness

o Improved transition to 1st grade

o Equipped with stronger learning skills

• Leads to higher academic achievement

o Better test performance

o Higher classroom grades

• Improves student attendance

o Better attendance in both kindergarten and through the primary grades

o Higher attendance translates to more learning time

• Supports literacy and language development

o Faster gains on literacy and language measures (compared to half-day programs)

o Gains tend to persist, bolstering long run school performance

• Enhances children’s social and emotional development

o Added time in a structured social setting assists with behavioral development

o Improved school socialization skills may lead to less stress and frustration for children

• Decreases costs by reducing retention and remediation rates

o One study found that full-day kindergarten enrollment doubled the likelihood of remaining on grade level through 3rd grade

preschool kindergarten

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Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten

SOURCE: WestEd Policy Brief, Full-Day Kindergarten: Expanding Learning Opportunities (2005).

Photography by Anissa Thompson

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

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Sara Face Shot BetterSara Gunderson, Office Manager and Executive Assistant, joined the organization in 2007. She has extensive administrative experience, including more than eight years in development at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. Sara received her BS in Psychology at the University of Utah with a coursework emphasis in infant and child development.