A day school is a school which provides instruction during the day to students who go home at the end of the school day, in contrast with a boarding school, in which patients live on the campus full time, going home for holidays and special occasions. Day schools may be public or private in nature, and can be run in accordance with a wide variety of missions. Many children spend at least some time in a day school during the course of their educations.
Some day schools run literally all day, providing instruction from the early morning to the early evening. Some preparatory schools run on this schedule to accommodate a high volume of instructional materials, and Jewish day schools also use a day-long schedule to provide a blend of secular and Jewish education to their students. These types of day schools tend to be very competitive, and entrance is selective, with students needing to apply for admission rather than being allowed to attend automatically.
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Other day schools may run on a relatively short schedule, from early morning to early afternoon, but provide students with optional activities and classes which can be taken after school, potentially allowing students to stay all day for activities. Optional activities can include specialty and advanced placement classes, sports, activity groups, and short courses. Students who choose to participate in such activities may be more academically motivated, and may use these activities to bolster their transcripts when applying to college.
Younger students at a day school may be able to transition from school to a childcare facility, for parents who cannot be home to attend their children right after school. In this case, students attend classes in the early morning and afternoon before moving into childcare. The childcare is often on or near campus to make the transition easy, and it can be a very useful solution for parents who must meet childcare needs for young children.
Many public schools are run along the day school format. Some private schools may also use this format. It is also possible to find a combination boarding and day school which takes in boarding students and offers admission to students who want to attend during the day and go home at night. This can allow a school to have a mixture of local students as well as students from further locations, which can increase diversity in the student body.