Full-day kindergarteners’ early advantage fades soon

July 16th, 2008 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, July 16 (IANS) Children in full-day kindergarten have better reading and math skills than children in part-day kindergarten, but these initial benefits fade soon after the children leave kindergarten. This loss is due, in part, to issues related to poverty and the quality of children’s home environments, ScienceDaily reported, quoting a new study.

The study, by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Loyola University Chicago, comes at a time full-day kindergarten becomes increasingly common the world over.

Using data on 13,776 children from the ‘Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999′, the researchers measured children’s academic achievement in math and reading in the autumn and spring of their kindergarten and first-grade years, and in the spring of their third- and fifth-grade years.

The researchers also looked at the type and extent of child care the children received outside of kindergarten, the quality of cognitive stimulation the children received at home, and the poverty level of the children’s families.

Overall, the study found that the reading and math skills of children in full-day kindergarten grew faster from the autumn to the spring of their kindergarten year, compared to the academic skills of children in part-day kindergarten.

However, the study also found that the full-day kindergarteners’ gains in reading and math did not last far beyond the kindergarten year.

In fact, from the spring of their kindergarten year through fifth grade, the academic skills of children in part-day kindergarten grew faster than those of children in full-day kindergarten, with the advantage of full-day versus part-day programmes fading by the spring of third grade.

The fade-out can be explained, in part, by the fact that the children in part-day kindergarten were less poor and had more stimulating home environments than those in full-day programmes, according to the study.

“The results of this study… highlight that characteristics of children and their families play noteworthy roles in why the full-day advantages fade relatively quickly,” said Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, the study’s lead author.

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