Many education reports show that a full-day kindergarten class increases academic growth, making it easier for youngsters to transition to first grade. However, although there are academic benefits, a full-day kindergarten class can be exhausting for children who aren't used to such a busy schedule. Depending on a child's maturity level and adaptation to a classroom setting, a full-day kindergarten could pose some challenges.
Some five- and six-year-olds are used to taking naps during the day, so they may get tired at school. Even if the kindergarten program incorporates a nap time into the daily activities, it may be difficult for a child to sleep in an unfamiliar setting with kids and teachers they don't know very well. Once a kindergarten student adjusts to the schedule, starts going to bed earlier at night and gets used to classroom nap time, fatigue generally lessens.
The academic stress of a full-day kindergarten program can be challenging for students whose cognitive skills aren't fully developed. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, a full-day kindergarten program could cause students who aren't ready for certain academic concepts to struggle, possibly even fall behind. For example, some kindergarteners don't have the skills and cognitive abilities to read yet and become frustrated trying to learn words, syllables and phonics. For others, math computation skills are overwhelming. Teacher evaluations and pre-kindergarten tests can help parents determine whether a full-day kindergarten program seems to meet their child's needs. Waiting a year to enroll in a full-day kindergarten class might be the best option.
Youngsters who have a short attention span don't always perform well in a full-day kindergarten class and may be better suited for a half-day kindergarten program. Children who haven't developed an attention span long enough to sit quietly and listen to stories, assemble puzzles, work on multiple-step craft projects and focus on educational materials may feel frustrated in a full-day program. Their anxiety will likely transfer to other students, making them feel fidgety or distracted. Children with a short attention span are also more likely to get in trouble with a teacher who is trying to conduct activities with the entire class.
Children who haven't been out of the home much or are used to having a stay-at-home mom or dad, may experience separation anxiety in a full-day kindergarten program. Youngsters thrive on routine, so kindergarten is a huge challenge at first when everything is new and unfamiliar. Kids may miss the security of having Mom or Dad around and may not cope well if something goes wrong. Skinned knees, hurt feelings and broken lunch boxes can seem overwhelming to a child who feels insecure and misses her parents. Reassurance by both teachers and parents can help a child overcome separation anxiety, but it might not happen overnight.