In the not too distant past, kindergarten was a place where children learned to color, share and play. But a higher regard for kindergarten is emerging, including a move toward all-day sessions in some states, as a growing body of research underscores the importance of learning in the earliest years.
The percentage of kindergartners attending full-day programs has grown from about 10% in the 1970s to about 76% in 2012, with a steep increase from 2002 to 2006, according to Child Trends, a non-profit research center. While some programs took a hit during the recession, several states have taken action recently to expand access to full-day kindergarten. Part-day kindergarten typically last two or three hours, while full-day kindergarten can range from four to seven hours.