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Full-Day Kindergarten Linked To Higher Test Scores, Longer Life

Kindergarten class
Benjamin Brayfield/Southern California Public Radio/KPCC
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A kindergarten class listens attentively. A new study by UNLV shows full-day kindergarten improves children's overall health.

Full-day kindergarten might be linked to higher levels of educational attainment and, in turn, healthier, longer lives, according to a recent study by UNLV’s School of Community Health Sciences.

The health impact assessment is based on data from 2010 to 2014. Sources included the U.S. Department of Education and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The research found that students in full-day kindergarten score better on tests than their half-day counterparts. It added that full-day kindergarten could lead to higher graduations rates in Nevada.

According to the findings, students with a higher level of education are more likely to practice healthy behaviors such as exercising, avoiding tobacco and eating nutritiously.

These lease lead to a reduced risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease and other health conditions, and increased life expectancy.

Assistant professor Courtney Coughenour, who helped with the study, told KNPR's State of Nevada that those benefits were particularly helpful for specific sections of the population. 

"English-language learners, minority students and low-income students tend to kind of retain the benefits of full day kindergarten a little bit longer," Coughenour said. 

The study offers recommendations to decision-makers and the community. They include implementing evidence-informed school based nutrition education and physical activity requirement.

The earlier the better, with the study noting nutrition education and physical activity is shown to influence positive eating habits and health into adolescence and beyond.

The study was funded by the Health Impact Project, which is a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Team partners included the Southern Nevada Health District.

 

Courtney Coughenour, assistant professor, UNLV School of Community Health Sciences; Max Gakh, assistant professor, UNLV School of Community Health Sciences.

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