charlie in preschool

[twitter]Alberta is one of a few Canadian Provinces that doesnt have mandatory full day kindergarten across the board. The Premier had promised to bring it in for fall 2013, but that promise has been watered down.

Every one of Alberta’s littlest learners will be provided the option of full-day kindergarten someday, but the education minister says it’s unlikely the program will be made mandatory.

Thomas Lukaszuk said full-day programs will be phased in across the province starting in fall 2013, but facility and staffing issues could get in the way of it being made mandatory provincewide.

Speculation has suggested a $200-million price tag attached to the implementation of the program may have created a hurdle too high to clear.

Ontario started phasing in full day kindergarten in 2010 and is now buckling under the weight of $500M in start up costs, and an estimated $1.5B annual bill once the roll out is complete.

Economist Don Drummond’s report will warn this week that without these types of tough measures, the province’s deficit could balloon to $30 billion in 2017-18 — the year the government hopes to balance the books, he said.

The government will not, despite Drummond’s recommendation, drop full-day kindergarten, he said.

Ontario won’t chop the program because it gets vulnerable kids in the system earlier.

“We can’t afford not to do it,” argues Charles Pascal, the [Ontario] Premier’s early learning adviser. Twenty-eight per cent of kids who enter Grade 1 are “vulnerable,” meaning they arrive with learning, social or behavioural problems. Without an early learning boost, they’ll never catch up.
[Globe and Mail]

Kids who would otherwise be neglected instead of nurtured at home, have a chance to build some good habits. But it’s not just the bottom rungs of our society that are helped, the middle ones benefit too.

No longer are we seeing single income families, where home-schooling for 5 years was easy and the norm. Dads are working, moms are working, and, in many cases, the children are finding them in daycare facilities starting at 11 mos old.

My son is 4. He’s in “junior kindergarten” now for 5 half days a week. Last year, in preschool, his teacher said he was ready for full days. Of course he is, he was spending 6 hours a day at a daycare facility before we moved to Alberta. A daycare that was staffed by Early Childhood Educators that featured crafts, reading, circle time, songs, gross motor play, and more. It was school. At 11 months old.

So, by the age of 4, one would expect he’s used to the system and able to handle the structure. Junior Kindergarten is not offered in the school system, private preschools exist, but those are still just a couple of half days a week. So we have sent him to a private school, at the cost of nearly $7 000 a year.

Next year, because there is no full day kindergarten in our area, he will have to attend the private school again. This time at a cost of nearly $10 000. Toss in the money we spent for the pre-school and you’re looking at $20 000 over 3 years we spent on education for ages 3-5.

20080506 daycare2Full day kindergarten would have at least taken $10 000 out of that mix and allowed us to pay down our mortgage, or family debt – the sort of things the government needs Canadians to do to keep the economy healthy.

Still, not all are on board with full day kindergarten.

Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail says the ‘helping vulnerable kids’ angle doesn’t work. She cites a US program called “Head Start” that has spent $100B and achieved no greater good for kids by grade 1.

But the vulnerable kids is just a part of the equation, and even Wente acknowledges the greater good for the middle that full day kindergarten provides.

the benefits of early childhood education have been vastly overstated. It’s not a magic bullet. Which isn’t to say that all-day K has no value. It’s fabulous for working parents, and a whole lot cheaper than daycare. Mothers who might otherwise stay home may choose to work, and it creates extra jobs for teachers. But they aren’t the benefits we’ve been sold. And in a world of excruciatingly tough choices, that matters.
[Globe and Mail]

I’d like Alberta to institute the program province-wide, and quickly. I have a second son who turned 2 last month. Next January he’ll be in pre-school. Fall 2013, he’ll be in junior kindergarten and, if full-day kindergarten isn’t installed by the fall of 2014, another $10 000 will fly out of our family budget because the government couldn’t provide.

What’s your take on all day kindergarten? What kind of school are your kids attending and how old were they when they started?

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  1. Jenny February 17, 2012 at 7:20 am

    We have been very happy with full day kindergarten, not because of the academic benefits but simply because our son doesn’t have to transition from school to after school care. The second half of the day is restful and non academic. There are a few kids in his class who have parents at home and who do half days. But even those parents leave their kids in the full day at least once a week. It just makes sense.

  2. Kerri February 17, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Disagree with full day kindergarten. It’s too much for 5 year olds (and I have a very capable and social boy that when 4 years old was told by preschool teachers that he was definitely ready for full-day). Why do I think they are not ready has more to do with the resources made available to teachers. We have 22 students to one teacher. At 5 years old, children still need a lot of guidance and intervention during their social situations. They need coaching through conflict situations. One teacher cannot possibly manage this with 22 students.
    There is also a lot of sitting and waiting for these 5 year olds while teacher spends time one-on-one.

    I went through a period that my energetic and capable son was cranky and tired. He gets great sleep and great food. Why so tired? His teacher and our doctor suggested that he be brought home in the afternoon. Since making this transition, things are so much better. Teachers are telling me that by the end of the week, the kids can be grumpy and moody which results in more behaviour managing and intervention.

    I can definitely bring more value to my kids’ day than the six hours worth they are getting at school. If I had a choice to make – it would be half day. Without question.

  3. admin February 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Thanks Kerri.

    It’s interesting, the two “anti all day” comments I’ve received (here and on FB) are from very competent mothers who have chosen to remain at home with their kids.

    That is not the case for many Canadians. When kids are in daycare at 11mos of age (some for up to 9+hours), they have the ability to work/play in groups with peers at a very young age.

    Our school’s JK and KG programs have a teacher and ECE aide, each about 20 students. A private school can set stricter limits on class size, to be sure.

    I don’t know what the answer is, I would just like to see more options for working parents to have their kids get the education they’re ready for, especially when it’s a quality of care the parents themselves can’t provide.

  4. Danyelle February 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

    My daughter is in grade one and was in the first set of full kindergarden in BC. I LOVE IT as did she. The kindergarden program allowed teachers to spend more time with the students that were stuggling as well as students that were head. I preferred that she be in a structured enviroment for the full day then after school care was focused on “fun”. Speaking to the grade one teachers I know they are very happy with the student coming in this year, most students were ready for grade one and had no problems adapting to grade one.
    Something that I was not aware of until this year was now much grade one students need to know…my daughter has gone from being advanced to average as the expectation for grade one are so high.
    Now I am a full time working mom and have had my daughter in child care from age 11 months, live in a small town so options for child care are limited.

  5. Kerri February 17, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Agree with your comment about children in daycare. Given that I have stayed home since my first was born, my social circle tends to be other stay-at-home moms and children. I have little interaction with daycare families. Apple and orange comparison.

    And lastly….thanks for the competent mom comment….. Don’t always feel that way, of course!!!

  6. Voula Martin February 17, 2012 at 11:05 am

    I recently went to the information meeting for kindergarten as my son will go to full day kindergarten in the fall in BC, and had the opportunity to chat with parents whose children have gone through the program, and a few kindergarten teachers. They were all very positive about it.

    The full day allows the children more time to go through the curriculum without being rushed through circle time, then rushed through play centers, then rushed to the gym, library, music, etc. The afternoon portion includes quiet time for the kids as needed. The teachers told me it makes the whole day more peaceful (or as peaceful as a roomful of 5 years can be…)and productive.

    Are the children more tired? I’m told yes for about the first month until they get used to the routine. After that, about 2/3 of the kids are comfortable and by Christmas break the remainder have settled in too. Probably all children go through this at the beginning of a new school year; I know my daughter was wiped out after school when she started grade 1 but she had bounced back by the end of September.

    Is the expense worth it? Really you could argue that its either coming out of your pocket when you write that check for pre-k or daycare, or its coming out of pocket when your write the check for your taxes if the government funds full day kindergarten. Maybe it’s less painful when the government pays for it but it’s definitely not free; something else will get shortchanged.

    Interesting point about using the money that went towards Jr. K to pay down your mortgage etc and help the economy. But I would argue the money you pay in tuition also helps the economy by employing teachers, paying rent etc for the school that provides the service.

    I think ultimately its a good thing for the kids; less rushing around, less back and forth between home, school and other care facility, more consistency, more time to learn and enjoy time with other kids. I’m looking forward to it despite the fact that I’m going to miss my baby…

  7. Lex February 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I agree and disagree all in one judgmental-mommy-pounce.
    I lived in Surrey, BC while attending university, I can whole-heatedly see the statement “neglected instead of nurtured at home” as a viable reason. Some of the parents out there are so by chance, not by best-fitted-choice and it shows heavily. In such case’s the child’s only fighting chance to become a productive part of society is to integrate as early as possible. I do feel that it should be optional though. If it works out that a parent is able, and desires to be home with a child, we, as the village helping to raise that child, should see this as wonderful.
    I did the half-day kindergarten back in the early-mid 80’s, my mom spent the rest of the day with me teaching me how to do various domestic duties, shop, do crafts and garden until my dad came home from work. This, of course, was long before the distractions of cellphones, internet and video games that take up a large part of a person’s free time now days. Don’t act like you don’t… know it does. If you are going to stay home with a child, then spend time with that child, not tending to your virtual farm. This is the area where I agree with the notion of “neglected, not nurtured. “
    I home school. In fact, I do what you hate, Buzz; I unschool. That does not mean they run free playing video games all day. My twins receive structure, routine, discipline and have expectations. They also have a broad social network that includes participation in, and friends from a wide range of activities, organizations and well as the tight-knit NE Calgary community we live in. Those are all aspects of being a person.
    On that note, I am also a University educated person who is an active member on the action committee in my area and volunteers often. Homeschooling is not just for a person who thinks they can do a better job based off the fact that they can afford to home school, there is so much more to it.
    I started out as a helicopter parent, going to a series of Montessori schools, French immersions and private institutions before my wee ones were even born. I selected a private Montessori in Tsawwassen at the bargain price of $7000 a year per child when they were around 4 years old. Due to their birthdays, they started kindergarten at 4.5. Homeschooling was a last minute choice I never considered, but came up with after not being fully happy with certain aspects of the school I was going to have them attend.
    As a 100% single mom who works a 9-5, I rely on my mom to spend the day with them and teach them the things I leave outlines for her follow. I choose to pay her instead of a sitter, nanny or day care. I am damn lucky to have the option, many do not and I fully realize that. If it was not for her willingness to dedicate her time to be home with them, I would be one of parents who would be utilizing this as a glorified day-care to be able to work at my career rather than sit home and collect.

  8. Leslie February 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I think people should remember you don’t HAVE to send your child to preschool or even kindergarten so why not have full day available to those who want it, 1/2 day for those who like it and the rest can do as they please? I think it should be fully funded and fully available. Not only does it help the under nurtured, it helps the those who may have a child with an undiagnosed disability get help sooner. I would love to see a program that starts with half days and works towards full days by the end of the year.

  9. Becky February 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I feel that having all day kindergarten should not have anything to do with it “being cheaper” for parents and saving daycare/preschool costs. As a mother of a son who was born in January, I already know that I will not be putting him into kindergarten when he is 4…..I will be waiting until he is five. I am a teacher and have seen what happens when the young kids (born in Dec, Jan and Feb) are put into school early. I know that this choice will cost me more in the long run, but I will do what is best for my child. I really don’t know how I feel about all day kindergarten. Half day kindergarten is a nice transition for grade one. I have been a grade 1 teacher for years and I know even at 6, all day school is extremely difficult for children. Parents do have some responsibility for supporting their children and getting them ready for school. Simple things such as reading to your kids, teaching them how to use scissors and teaching them their alphabet can go a long way for getting them prepared for school

  10. admin February 17, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    It’s cheaper AND kids are ready earlier because of the pre-school / dayhome / daycare culture that is happening in a world of dual income families.

    My son is ready, which is why I am paying for my son to attend a private school so he can have full day kindergarten.

    I have yet to bring up the school we are zoned for is more than 5km from our house. Hardly walking distance, and I’m not going to be sending a 5 yr old on a bus each day to school.

    There are many factors that are causing us to have to keep him out of the public system right now.

  11. Becky February 18, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Kids being ready for school has almost nothing to do with academics. At the age of 2, my son already knows his alphabet, can count to 12 etc. The problem that the “young kids” have is ALWAYS a social problem. I have yet to meet one child who was ready for grade 1 and put into school early. Also, when having a child, people know the costs. It may be cheaper on the parent to put children into school early, but it doesn’t mean that is what is best.

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  13. Clover August 3, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    I have a happy and sociable littlle boy who will turn 4 in 2 weeks. I am looking for a half day Montesorri program for him when he turns 5 next year, I disagree 100% with full-day kindergarten. I am a lawyer and one of the things I love to do is research. I did some research in this area, the book I love is “The Parenting Crisis” by Dr Scott Wooding, it is an very informative, different and awesome book I highly recommend it, together with my experience, I am conviced that half day kindergaten is the optimum option. While I agree that full day child care, including kindergarten can help working parents, but the gist of the debate here is: what is in the best interest of the children. My understanding is that full-day kindergarten / child care under 6 can actually have negative impact on the kids, in essence, after the first few hours, it becomes stressful for them and the kids will get anxious, they need then to be back home to relax and play. Full day kindergarten is just too much for 5 year olds!

  14. admin August 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    If you’ve got kids who cant handle the stimulus, and kindergarten is too stressful, then hold them back. In my family’s position, we’d rather put them in kindergarten than daycare. We are not staying at home, so why not have some structured learning? Our boys love it, your mileage may vary.

  15. Heather December 9, 2013 at 11:08 am

    The reason that I have held my kids back. My son has a Feb birthday and started JK at 4. Although his school offered FT kindergarten we put him in only 3 days a week. This year is SK and he goes 3 or 4 days a week not the full 5. My daughter who is November birthday will start next fall… maybe. I am a full time mom, I don’t work outside the home. Its a choice my family has made. My husband is a pastor so its not like we are made of money, we just see the value in this sacrifice.
    With that intro, here is my thought. It is really too bad that people feel the pressure to run back to work as soon as they can, leaving their child in daycare and entering the school system at 3/4 years old. From what I have seen, having kids in learning centres outside the home this early takes the focus off where the child belong in the family; that mommy and daddy are the appex, that family is the most important, and required for a stable life. We are raising generations of kids that learn to be independant way to early and quickly replace the values in the family home for … and I quote “mom, that is not the way Mrs. Smith does it and she is right because she is a teacher”.

  16. admin December 9, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I firmly disagree on so many levels.

  17. ryan June 2, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I grew up in a disadvantaged Ontario neighbourhood where full day kindergarten was provided in the 80s. Prior to that, I did not have the privilege to be in a structured daycare or pre kindergarten setting.

    My memories and emotions from that experience, to this day, are quite vivid and instrumental to my upbringing. Providing me that extra time on a daily basis, to remove myself from my immediate environment at home, facilitated a growth that no one can quantify. To have the audacity to claim this “does nothing by grade 1”, implies a lack of understanding of what safe relation and structure necessitates in a young developing mind.

    Heather- get over yourself.

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