1/2 Day, Extended Day, Full Day? What do Kinders, and teachers, need?

The Question:
Anne Aycock Pulley writes: Right now my district has full day k (8:25-2:45). Many of our teachers want to go to extended day instead (8:25-1:30) because they feel the kids are burned out by 1:30 and aren’t really learning anything after that. I am curious about other schools and their schedules and what effect the length of the day has on the kids.
The Answers:
Chantel Sloan
 We are considered full day, but we go from 8:30-2:00 (while the older kids go from 7:45-2:45). I don’t think our kids could go any later than 2:00 because, whereas I don’t think half day kinder is adequate these days, they really do burn out by 2:00!!!
Anastasia Ratner
We are 7:35-3:00 full day k. No naps. My kids are fantastic and learning so much I barely have time to fit it all in can’t imagine any less time.
Melissa Elizabeth Baum
My school is a charter school in a downtown urban setting. Our school day starts at 8am and goes until 4! Since many kinders don’t live in the downtown neighborhood, they are bused in. Which means that some of our students start their school day at 6:30-5ish. I still finding myself running out of teaching time. We unfortunately do not have an outside area for them to play in, so we do a lot of dancing to keep them energized (and to lose some energy). We also still do nap, in light of their long day. This is my fourth year with kinders on this schedule. I am used to it, so I could only imagine what I would have to cut out to go to a “full day 8:25-2:45” schedule!!
Lissie Aliotti Antos
Half-day Kinder here (8:50-12:10). Leaves minimal time for science, social studies, music, art. Wish I could have them just a little bit longer.
Heather Leckey
Mine is 7:55-3:15. Its wonderful…we are on four day work weeks (Fridays off). I love the long days as I can go more in depth. I do centers every single day from 2-3. The kids LOVE centers, as that’s the thing they look forward to. Putting the “fun” at the end of the day helps keep them engaged allll day 🙂

The whole school district is on the 4 Day Week….as well as our neighboring district. We did it this year because of budget reasons. My neighboring district did it for two years now…

Jennifer Kooy
 ‎8:30-1:30 is our academic day and then parents have the option to leave their children until 3 for a cooperative and imaginative playtime (teacher led daycare). About half my class stays until 3. This has been working great for the past two years. I previously taught two half days 8:30-11:30 and 12:15-3:15.
Melissa Miles
 Our school is full day kindergarten and the kids can come as early as 8:00. They aren’t considered late until after 8:45. They start leaving at 3:40 and our last bus doesn’t come until 4:10. I wish we could get out at 2:00 because my kids are done after 2:00. It is a very long day for them.
Shannon Brickley Rossi
Would love a 4 day week! Heather–my kids love centers more than life itself!! My schedule is 8-3, no nap, the kids get used to it pretty quickly. Ideally I would love to end at 2 and keep a fifth of the class each day for an hour of small group reading.
Heather Leckey
Shannon, yes they loooooove centers. Makes me happy!! We do not have nap either. I do small group reading daily from 8:15-9:30. Kids are rockin this year…writing two sentences in their independent journals and we just started addition (math their way jewels). I love this schedule, and their levels show it helps!
Melissa Miles
Heather your schedule sounds great. Our school considered going to a four day week or close to a year round schedule but it didn’t work out this year. I would love to be able to have centers for an hour. I have centers for about 20 minutes in the morning. Our schedule doesn’t allow for more than that. We have 90 min. of guided reading, 30 min of shared reading, 30 min of journal writing, and 60 min of math, which includes calendar time.
Tristica Stemple
 I now teach first but taught kinder for 4 years. Our school day is 8:05-3:30! It seems long but there is so much to teach! It seems to me that kinder now is what first grade used to be…like 12 years ago when I did my student teaching. I don’t think its a bad thing because the kids are ready to learn. What bothers me is taking away recess or play time in kinder and afternoon recess in first!
Cheri Dodson Smith
I have a k/1 and my k’s join us at 10:15 until 3:00. Every Wednesday we have minimum day with early release at 1:30. It is just the right amount of time for me…I only wish it was with a straight k. Mixing in the first graders makes it a bit tougher because the first grade curriculum in CA is so stringent (as is the kdg.) I DREAM of straight k…but in a small rural school…that is all it is…a dream!
Jessie O’Neill Prest
Here in Hawaii, we have full day for Junior K’s and Kinders 7:45-2:00. We have centers everyday from 1:00-2:00. The students look forward to centers and it’s a great way to end the day!
Candyce Nicole
Get used to it. My state has been full day forever. Its because of testing scores and the “new children” now. They are not ready for kindergarten when they come.
Amanda Weaver
We are full day 7:50-2:40. I notice by 1:50 (a natural transition in our day) that most of the kids have checked out. Our language arts from 1:50-2:20 seems pointless very often. They don’t participate and can’t remember things I teach the day before. Shorter days would be awesome.
Shannon Frey
Think about the costs associated with switching the time, besides the educational impact. If your school district has bussing, they now have to offer another bus run. I cannot see how, in these rough economic times, a district would add that cost to their budget. My school has full day and I find the kids are exhausted by 1:30, but use the end of the day for social skills, craftivities and read alouds.
Kylee Jackson Miller
 I’ve flipped my schedule so that the end of my day is my work stations/centers. The kids do much better with choice activities and are given the opportunity to move at their own pace. 🙂
Ashley DeMazza
 We arrange our day so that play and recess are at the end of the day. We also have an early K program so the four year olds are not in regular K. I can’t imagine shortening the day.
Bettina McCoy
 I teach full day K from 8:30-2:45, Wednesday is early release day so dismissal is 1:45. We too have no naps. We have recess on days we do not have physical education. Other days, we try to do some type of movement activity. We do not have the traditional centers (dramatic play, science table, block area, etc.) but do have a set of blocks that we have to find a spot for whenever they want to use them. Most of my kids do well with the hours.
We have a mandatory intervention/enrichment block (30 minutes) at the very end of our day after math. This is when my children can use what I call “social centers.” while they look forward to this time, they often have to leave their center to come to me for assessment or small group instruction. I need more time to do all of the assessment we are required to do, but want more time for them to socialize so they can be quiet during my lessons!
Tiffany Rice
All day, 7:35-2:35….I, too, can’t imagine less time with everything we need to teach. Our curriculum is intense in St Michaels, MD
Tina Colwell Gruber
We have our kids all day (8:40-3:00). At the beginning of the year it is a long day for most, but they adjust pretty quickly. We do not have nap time. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d fit it all in if I didn’t have them all day. I ,too, do my more “Academic” things in the morning, and end the day with centers or some sort of activity that has them moving with a little more freedom. Good Luck everyone! It’s truly what you make of it 🙂
Kelly McMurtrie Thomas
Kids get off the bus between 8-8:15. The bell rings at 8:30 to start the day and end of the day announcements are at 3:05. No nap for us either– no time!! We have recess at the end of the day when they are “cooked” (35 minutes). Mine are fine…..
Catherine Cason Rutkoski
 I have taught 1/2 day for about 16 years (8:45 – 11:30 and 12:30 – 3:15) but will be going to full day next year. I am very excited to have them all day because of the academic demands that we now have and it will give me some time to incorporate some play and social time for them.
Erin Quinlan Carter
My students start getting to school at 7:45. The bus riders are at school at 7. Dismissal isn’t until between 2:45 and 3:15. It’s a very long day for the kiddos. They’ve adjusted well, but yes, we struggle to get as much academics squeezed into the morning as possible. They are pretty burnt out by around 1:00.
Katherine Elizabeth
I’m 7:50-3:30!
Karen Hollowell Gaduyon
Our day is from 8:30-3:15. Most of the kids are at breakfast and doing morning work activities til about 9:15. We have no nap and only 20 mins of recess. We have a very intense schedule of academics and some of the kids definitely are done by 2:00. Would love a 4 day week.
Jamie Deitz
We go from 8:00 to 3:15 and my kids do fine. It’s a little rough in the beginning of the year but they get used to it.
Nancy Nixon Baldwin
Can any of you give more details as to your afternoon activities to give the kids more freedom?
Amanda Hatcher-Trent
We are 7:40-2:30 (with the option for half day. We have 2 classes that are half day.) At 1:40 every day we do what we call Ready, Set, Learn. The kids pick from academic practice centers for intervention and enrichment and my assistant and I pull students who need interventions. The kids are still engaged in academic content, they just don’t know it…they think they’re playing. It’s the downtime they need and the valuable RTI we need built into the day.
Amy Schaefer
Yes. Long day. Our schedule called for recess, nap, and snack after that time. Therefore there was fun, rest, and food. No more pushing academics.
Sylvia Lusk Harwell
We are full day (7:45-2:30). I have kept my rest/nap time (just 20 min.), mainly so I can do some one-on-one testing… 🙂 We have to do SO much!!! Also, I use the last 14 min. or so when they “wake up” and check out books, get their things together as a “free center” time. It helps them leave on a positive note. The rest of the day is jam packed! I can’t imagine how we could make it with a shorter day!
Donna Plunkett
Our schedule is from 7:45 – 2:45. We really think its worth it. It’s hard at first but I think it gives them an advantage for first grade.  No naps in our district!
Janet Auer Baird
My class is from 8:30 – 1:30 which is great. I don’t think my Ks would handle a longer day in the Fall, but it might be nice to try a longer day after Day 100! I’m not sure parents who have to arrange Child Care would care for that change.
Sarah Hudson
San Francisco is full day (8-2). The last hour is recess, free choice (blocks, linker cubes, puzzles, books, playdough, etc), gather together for a read-a-loud, go over homework, compliment the child of the day, behavior chart, and dismissal. It’s going well.

Dawn M. Burns-Morants 

I teach full day kindergarten and yes, it is a long day. We begin at 7:55 and go to 2:55. I allow the kids two snacks and 20 minutes of quiet time at noon. Plus, we do Centers from 2:05-2:40. It helps a little, but math time from 12:25-1:25 is hard! The kids also have three recess times throughout the day.

Kirsten Finucane

My daughters’ school went to extended day last year and then full day this year. The main issue with them getting out at 1:30 was parents and teachers complaining because the other kids didn’t get out until 2:30. So, kids would be left there for an hour sometimes, or, parents and their children would stay on campus to play, disrupting the other classes. Out of 100 kindergarteners, more than 50 had older siblings. It really did make a big difference. Now they all get out at the same time. In most of our full day classes, students do most of their learning before lunch and then have choice time, story time, etc. after lunch.

Bette LoPresti 

I am so jealous of the longer days many of you have. We are full day but our hours for the kids are 8 to 2. The kids start arriving at 7:30 for breakfast and we have to open our doors at 7:45 to let them in the classroom, but school actually starts at 8. We were given our class schedule this year and told what to teach and what time to teach it. There is no time for snack or centers. We gave up nap time years ago. We have to have a 90 minute uninterrupted reading block. Added to that is a 45 minute writing block, a 30 minute intervention block, a 40 minute block for specials. Two days of the week we teach science at that time rather than go to our special class. We have a 30 minute lunch, but they didn’t factor in walking to and from lunch. We also have 60 minutes for Math and 15 minutes at the end of the day for recess. They forgot to find time for read alouds so I had to squeeze that in. In doing so, I ran out of time for recess. My kids have only had recess 3 or 4 times this year and I am always rushing through everything to get done in time to do the next thing. I love the idea of 4 longer days. I could really go for that!

Lynn Green Robinson 

My k students learn very little after lunch and recess ( 12:45) because they are so tired. But we make them work, work, work for 2 more hours. It’s a crying shame.

Jessica Marie 

8:30 to 3:15 and luckily we are still allowed a “rest” which at this point in the year is only about 30 minutes of quiet time on a mat. I play story tapes or quiet music and at the end of the year they can have a book on their mat. Just that 30 minutes of down time does a WORLD of good. They have better afternoons than they do mornings sometimes and I attribute it to that. I just hope no one takes it away from us!

Chrissy Pierson

8:45 to 3:15 here.. No problems. NO nap but 3 recesses plus PHYS. ED.

Marcy Davis Wegner 

We have full day from 8:15-3:15. I have not noticed fatigue in our students. But we have a 1/2 hour recess, 1/2 hour read aloud/rest time and an afternoon snack that are all back-to-back. Our afternoons are filled with reading and writing workshops and the kids sustain their attention beautifully. I can’t imagine 1/2 days anymore (although I did them for 10 years).

Roxanne Lee 

I teach full day. Our hours are 7:45 – 2:30. My kids are not tired. They are still going full speed at the end of the day

Melissa K. Harris Armann 

We are full day (8:00 – 3:00), but only schedule computer lab, gym, music, library and counselor time after 1:30 each day. Our lunch is later (11:45 – 12:15) so we have a short afternoon. All academics are done in the AM with just active centers in the afternoon.

Juli Benson McCarlson

School starts at 8:15, but some are here earlier for breakfast, and buses roll in after 8:00. Buses leave at 3:35 – our students do well with the schedule. We also are on a 4 day student week, which allows the K kids to be in school 20 more days for the year, compared to the previous years when I was an 80% paid teacher, though you all know we work full time no matter what we are paid =), and the K kids and I had Wed off. I agree, we are teaching beginning first grade material 2nd semester. Most of them do real well – it’s just that they don’t get to bed early enough…they are out with their families at too many other school activities for older siblings! And they are tired! I do have rest time some days. Very interesting to read all of your posts.

Susan Heller Fisher 

We start at 7:45 and end at 2:50. I can’t imagine going back to 1/2 days.

Celia Rencher Snow 

I teach two half day sessions and my colleague teaches an extended day (kids at risk) from 9:00-2:25. She says the kids are tired by the end of the day. Remember when we took naps during 1/2 sessions? Well, 99% of you are probably too young to remember that! But, I actually wish that I had 1 extended day class. It is virtually impossible to get everything that the district want us to do (can’t wait for the common core to hit!), as well the VERY necessary activities such as art, free play and recess. So, I feel frustrated because I actually wish I had more time. Cutting off 1 to 1 1/2 hours would be perfect!
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