Do students benefit more from a full-day curriculum?
Children who attend full-day kindergartens do not turn out smarter or more well-adjusted than those in half-day programs, according to a University of Hong Kong study.
However, spots for full-day programs in schools continue to be oversubscribed in Hong Kong.
Researchers assessed 346 randomly selected students from 15 kindergartens across the city over the course of two years, from 2015 to last year. They found no significant difference in their language, cognitive, physical, social or emotional development.
The team also spoke to about 130 educators to find out if students from certain backgrounds, such as lower-income ones or those with working parents, would benefit most from full-day sessions.
Despite there being no significant advantages of a full-day program, the study’s research team leader, associate professor of education Dr Li Hui still urged Hong Kong’s education authorities to establish full-day sessions at more kindergartens.
This would help single parent or dual-income households with their childcare needs, Li added, saying that full-day sessions would allow teachers to guide students.
Li also suggested that the government increase its current level of subsidies to kindergartens. The Education Bureau offers about three in four kindergartens subsidies for each pupil enrolled in a half-day program. Additional grants are given to those who attend full-day sessions.
The grants have not been enough for schools to maintain longer programs, Li said.
“Running a kindergarten is not an easy job, for example, [teachers in] whole-day schools have to pay more attention. [And with] napping, eating, catering and going to the playground… all these activities need resources and money,” he said.
Earlier this year, a Singapore politician had also suggested that the Ministry of Education offer full-day school curriculums to level the playing field for students from more disadvantaged backgrounds.
The extra hours in school would allow students to be guided through their homework and put them on par with students who have access to additional enrichment and tuition classes, the politician said.