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Early Ed Watch

A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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Children’s Defense Fund Makes New Push on Full-Day Kindergarten

Published:  August 1, 2011

Research shows that children who attend full-day kindergarten programs—especially disadvantaged children—have better learning outcomes than children who attend half-day kindergarten programs. In particular, many experts see full-day kindergarten as an important step in preparing children to read by the end of third grade.

But not all states and local school districts are making the investment children need in high-quality kindergarten. Currently, only 12 states require districts to provide full-day kindergarten, and there are still six states that don’t require kindergarten at all. With the recession threatening funding for these crucial programs, the Children’s Defense Fund has launched a new webpage devoted to the issue. Lisa Guernsey, director of the Early Education Initiative here at New America, is one of a group of experts featured in video interviews on the importance of full-day kindergarten.

“We are kidding ourselves if we think that we can just let kindergarten be two-and-a-half hours, here and there, and then expect that by first grade kids will be ready to hit the ground running,” Guensey said.

The Children’s Defense Fund emphasizes the importance of kindergarten in light of the new Common Core standards, which outline rigorous expectations for what a kindergartener should know and be able to do by the end of the year. For example, after prompting from a teacher, children should be able to retell parts of a story. They should also be able to name all upper and lower-case letters of the alphabet and know the long and short sounds of vowels. More than 40 states have adopted these new, K-12 standards.

Other experts interviewed by CDF include Jerlean Daniel, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); Carol Brunson Day, president of the National Black Child Development Institute; and Thomas Shultz, project director for Early Childhood Initiatives at the Council of Chief State School Officers.  You can find all of the videos on the CDF webpage or YouTube.

Check out the Children Defense Fund’s full-day kindergarten page here.

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