In February of this year, British Columbia’s education minister Shirley Bond announced that her ministry would investigate the cost and feasibility of offering all-day kindergarten. At this moment in B.C., all-day kindergarten is only available for aboriginal, ESL and special-needs children. The plan would mean that full day kindergarten would be available to all five-year-olds by September 2009 and they have plans to extend that to four- and three-year-olds by 2010 and 2012 respectively.
The current economic downturn is now threatening that plan (source). The plan would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, so they are now studying how and when they can best implement these changes. There are lots of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to all-day kindergarten.
Besides the practical advantages like less transportation hassle (no school buses to children from school to daycare), full-day programs provide a relaxed, unhurried school day with more time for a variety of experiences, for screening and assessment opportunities, and for more interaction between adults and students.
A lot of people however think half a day is enough. It offers ample time in school and allows more time for the young child to play and interact with adults and other children in less-structured home or child care settings. Half a day provides continuity and systematic experience with less probability of stress. Also, full day kindergarten require additional teaching staff and aides to maintain an acceptable child-adult ratio. Another thing is that all day kindergarten is considered to be too academic, concentrating on basic skills before children are ready. I can also imagine that practically one half-day of an all-day program may become merely child care.
Of course the decision to put a child into a half-day or full-day kindergarten program lies with the parents, and it all depends on the child itself. What do you think is best?