Preschool Program Image

While it has been shown that early childhood interventions have positive effects on preschoolers, it remains unclear whether a full-day is superior to a part-day program. A new study has suggested that in terms of socioemotional, math, and language skills, a full-day program is superior to a part-day program.


Previous studies have demonstrated that early childhood interventions have positive outcomes in preschoolers. However, whether to enrol a preschooler in a full-day or part-day program remains an area of some debate. The authors of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that allowing increased learning time for children, in addition to the extra time for parents to pursue education and/or employment, could have beneficial effects for the entire family unit. This study therefore set out to assess the association between school readiness, attendance, and parent involvement in full-day versus part-day preschool programs.

The participants consisted of preschoolers enrolled in eleven of the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) in Chicago, Illinois. The CPC educational program has been running within the public school system in Chicago since 1967. Until 2012, the preschool day consisted of 3 hours of preschool education; however, selected sites have now transitioned to a full-day program.

Included in the study between 2012 and 2013 were a total of 409 enrolled in a full-day program, and 573 enrolled in a part-day program. The children were assessed for school readiness skills, which include: language, math, socioemotional development, physical health, increased attendance, and reduced chronic absences. The results of the study showed that children who were enrolled in a full-day program scored higher on 4 out of 6 school readiness skills. Those enrolled in a full-day program achieved higher socioemotional development, language, math, and physical health scores, when compared to children enrolled in a part-day program. Scores for literacy and cognitive development, however, were not significantly different between children enrolled in a part-day program compared with those enrolled in a full-day program. The results of the study also revealed increased attendance and less chronic absences in children attending a full-day program.

The authors conclude that a full-day preschool program is superior for children to develop school readiness skills, and that an expansion of the current part-day programs is warranted. However, they also state that a replication of study results across preschool programs would provide more sound evidence for the implementation of a full-day preschool program.


Reynolds, AJ, Richardson, BA, Hayakawa, M, Lease, EM, Warner-Richter, M, Englund, MM, Ou, S-R, Sullivan, M. “Association of a Full-Day vs Part-Day Preschool Intervention With School Readiness, Attendance, and Parent Involvement” JAMA. 2014;312(20):2126-2134. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.15376.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at



Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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