Full Day vs. Half-Day Kindergarten

Parent Q&A

  • I'm looking at kindergarten options. I grew up with kindergarten being half days. But it seems like OUSD and lots of other schools - private, charter, the whole lot - are doing full-day kindergarten. I know it's great for those who need full-time childcare, but are there any half-day programs? For families that don't need (or want to pay tuition for) a full day? For kids who just need a gentler introduction to the classroom experience? For kids who need more free-play time? Is half-day kindergarten a thing anymore? 


    Piedmont schools have 1/2 day Kindergarten.

    If you are open to moving, Fremont still has half-day kindergarten, and Albany has less-than-full-day kindergarten. Otherwise, though, almost all schools and Bay Area districts are full day now. Kindergarten is "the new first grade," so to speak--content that was once taught in first is now taught in kindergarten, which is in part why the entry age was pushed back. Your best bet is probably either a year of bridge kindergarten if you think your child needs the extra year, or a private school where kindergarten will still be full day but is often more play-based. 

    Treehouse Preschool in Redwood Heights offers a half day Kinder and K-Prep program.  Our oldest son is finishing up his Kinder year now and we have been very impressed with the program.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



PM Kindergarden assignment and Aftercare nightmare

July 2014


My son will attend Kindergarten this fall at Fairmont Elementary in El Cerrito. I got wind that he will be assigned to the PM Kindergarten class (starts at 11:20) because we didn't register him early enough (I know, parenting fail). Unfortunately, my husband and I both work full time and the complementary childcare program through the city told us that they may not be offering AM care if there is not enough demand. (They didn't have it this year for the same reason.) I am REALLY confused as to what other parents do who are assigned to the PM K class if both parents work full time out side the home? Anyone out there have the same problem? Are there daycares in the area who will take care of my Kinder kid in the morning, take him to school, and care for him afterschool?

I am seriously stressed out as to what we will do if he gets final assignment to the PM class and there is no AM care. The principal implied that maybe some spots my open up in the AM Kindergarten after the first week but it's not something I can depend on. Has this happened to anyone else? What did you do? Are you in the same boat as me this year? If so, could you please please sign up to get the AM care through the city? confused PM Kindergarten mom

I was in the exact same situation 2 years ago, and I remember really flipping out and being super stressed too. I really wish that EC/WCCUSD would communicate the situation better to parents when they are registering for K that the availability of the afterschool for K is dependent of how many K classes they have, and AM K is a better choice if you want aftercare. Then working parents who intend to use after-care can mark down ''no preference for AM or PM care, as long as aftercare is available'', which is basically what I put this year for my 2nd kid who is entering K this year.

What I did two years ago in your situation is to talk to the principal to explain how critical it is that my child be switched to the AM K if there will be no morning ''afterschool''. It sounds like you have already done that. My experience was that the principal did in fact switch my daughter to AM K. She told me she couldn't guarantee it (which of course freaked me out, bc I considered it essential, and should overrule someone else's ''preference''), but she did tell me there was a pretty good chance it would happen. And it did. I guess I can give you no additional comfort, except to commiserate, and encourage you to continue to work with the principal to explain the critical situation (and suggest they make this issue clear at registration time to avoid this hassle in the future!) another Fairmont parent with incoming K

First I just want to say that I sympathize with your summer-before-kindergarten anxieties - been there (last year). I think you're doing all the right things with letting the principal know your situation, and keep being a squeaky wheel with the City of EC. You may even want to try to communicate directly with Anthony (the school site before/aftercare director), if not him, maintain a relationship with the Rec Dept office. You should also be sure to attend all the kindergarten playdates going on this summer (starting the 26th) to meet other parents and find out if there are other folks on the fence about PM-K beforecare. Or, leads on daycares nearby. It WILL work out! Fairmont is a good school and once you're settled in, I think your kid will have a good experience there; ours is happy to be headed into first grade. Personally I think it's a District failure to even have PM kindergarten but that's a whole other subject. Make the City of El Cerrito meet your need! Fairmont mom

Which schools offer all day kindergarten?

Feb 2008


Does anyone know of public schools offering all-day Kindergaten schools in either, Berkley, Oakland, Alameda or Albany or perhaps other communities? My friend in Chicago tells me their school district has adopted this successfully. Thank you
looking at option

I could be wrong about this, as my son doesn't start kindergarten till next fall, but I'm pretty sure all Oakland schools have all-day kindergartens. That was my understanding, and it's mentioned several times in their 2007 Annual Report: http://webportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/docs/13668.pdf Public School Mom-to-Be

All OUSD public schools have full-day kindergarten. I don't know about other districts, but this FDK was implemented in 2005. OUSD Parent

My son is an Oakland Public School kindergartener this year. I think the entire OUSD is full day kindergarten. Certainly all of our pre-school and daycare friends are in full day programs at various OUSD schools. ncaton

The Oakland Unified School District mandated several years ago that all kindergartens be full-day. Oakland Public School Mama

As I understand it, all kindergartens for schools in Oakland Unified School District are currently all-day only. This generally means from around 8:30 to around 2:30 (varies a bit by school). Karen

All Berkeley Public Schools have ''all day'' kindergarten. The exact times the day runs depends on a given school. Some start and end earlier than others. Kindergarteners end their day one hour before the upper grades do. Most schools offer after school care on site, and some of the later starting schools (around 9 am) offer before school care as well. There are also other after school care programs at city parks, the JCC in Berkeley, to name a few.

Oakland, I believe, now has ''full day'' kindergarten now at all schools.

Albany is still on half days. There are before and after care programs on site at some schools and also through the Albany YMCA on Solano. Anon.