This study aims to develop an operational model for the full-day kindergarten system by conducting a detailed study on the issue, carrying out pilot operations, and providing policy recommendations on the operation of the system. In order to achieve this goal, the authors reevaluated relevant documentary sources, re-analyzed the results of preceding studies, conducted interviews with focus groups, carried out pilot operations of the model, and held consultative meetings.
An operational model for the full-day kindergarten system was developed, based on the elements crucial for the formation of full-day programs―type of class formation, composition of age group, operating hours and days, the number of vacation days, equipment/facilities/environment, and staff in charge of the full-day system. The study selected six kindergartens taking into consideration the type of establishment and regional characteristics, and applied the operational model to them. Based on the results of the pilot operations, the study suggests the following policy recommendations.
First, consultations are necessary for the successful operation of the full-day kindergarten system. The study concludes that consults can be very helpful for applying the operational model as it is developed to kindergartens, especially those in less privileged environments. Second, it is necessary to strongly promote the government's full-day kindergarten policy. The government divides kindergarten's educational courses into basic courses and full-day courses, and then defines enrichment programs, special programs developed by kindergartens, and extracurricular programs which can be taught in full-day courses. However, teachers and parents lack awareness of this fact. Third, extracurricular programs of full-day kindergartens must be differentiated and should be able to provide tailored education to different age groups. Meeting parents' diverse demands is important; however, what is more important is providing programs that consider young children's developmental processes. Fourth, full-day programs must go hand in hand with the regional and environmental characteristics of each kindergarten. Regional characteristics, the type of establishment, its operational size, the number of full-day classes, the age composition of students, and other elements must be taken into consideration, and teachers should be able to develop and run optimized programs. Fifth, it is necessary to recommend and promote the expansion and adoption of appropriate enrichment programs. Sixth, resources and funding for the operation of the full-day system must be secured. Currently, most of the full-day programs put children of different classes into one classroom after the morning session, which indicates that the programs are participated in by children of mixed age groups. In order to upgrade the quality of such programs, it is essential to guarantee financial support for qualified teachers, assistants, and funding sources for all kindergarten in Korea.