More thoughts on full-day kindergarten

by DaniGirl on June 18, 2009 · 6 comments

in Working and mothering

I thought it was worth a second post (here’s the first) to link to some of the fantastic opinions people have expressed on the subject of full-day kindergarten in Ontario.

In our little corner of the blogosphere Rebecca at a bit of momsense is still on the fence. BeachMama isn’t on the fence at all – she doesn’t suppport the idea.

Randall Denley in today’s Citizen provides a rant contrary opinion from the grumpy old men contingent, and Elizabeth Payne (one of my favourite Citizen columnist) provides a more balanced and thoughtful — not to mention favourable — insight. Best quote to date, IMHO, goes to Elizabeth Payne for this one:

Bail out a badly run and outdated car company and people will shrug their shoulders. Try to build a system in which all children have access to good-quality care, and an equal start in life, and wait for the howls of outrage.

I’ve been loving your comments, here and elsewhere in the blogosphere. And I’ve been prudently ignoring the comment sections on articles about full-day kindergarten in the major media. If I believed the majority of those comments, I’d be thinking I’m a “self-indulgent, latte-toting, lazy mother who had more children than she could afford to raise and is now looking for to the state to raise them for her.” Nice.

Edited to add: hoo-boy, it’s not just the anonymous comentators who are opinionated wing-nuts. Alberta’s Minister of Finance thinks ‘raising children properly’ requires one parent to stay at home. Yikes!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sherri June 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm
2 paula schuck June 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm

While I understand there are many details that need to be worked out still I think it is important to note that the public school system has been in crisis for several years and it’s not getting better. I fail to see this as helping that situation. I agree full day JK will help many working parents in families with children who fit the current system and learn in traditional ways. I am not sure this is a great solution for all children however. Currently enrollment numbers of children with special needs continues to increase – while enrollment in other areas decreases. This growing group of children is unserved now in school. How is adding more to their day going to help in any way? It will not translate into more services. It will not translate into teachers who are better trained. It will not translate into better, just more and for these kids it won’t even mean more. As a parent leader of a support group of adoptive parents in London, Ontario I am troubled by the number of children who are sent home routinely and often suspended for having special needs simply because schools don’t know how to handle or manage complex mental, behavioural and physical health needs of children. I think until we are able to retrain or properly adapt these systems to fit children with special needs we shouldn’t even be looking at all day JK.

Paula Schuck

3 Elise June 18, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Just a cultural adds-on.

In France (where I am originally from), the maternal leave is a little more than 3 months – about 1 month before you deliver and 2 months and a half after delivery. Then, you’re expected to hand your baby over to daycares. The live-in or live-out nanny system mostly doesn’t exist (except for very wealthy families) and most of my friends got from their boss a few more months, one or two, but that’s it ! So I’d say 90% of French children are in full-time daycare by age 6 months.
Then, kindergarten starts at 3. If your child is, say, 2 and 7 or 9 months by the beginning of the school year, and she’s potty trained, she’s allowed to go to school. School for us mean 9am to 4 pm. And this seems all natural to all of my friends, family, everyone I know in France.

So I have to say that I got pretty amazed here in Toronto when I heard of children going to kindergarten just for 2 or 3 hours in the morning, and sometimes just 3 mornings a week. My first reaction was : what the hell ? what kind of system is that, that makes things even more complicated than not having children at school ?
Now I understand more the debate, the pros and cons, I think that 2 1/2 to go to school full day is kind of hard on children – and teachers !

But I can’t get rid of expecting my child to be in full day at school as soon as he starts school. It’s how it was for me, how it is for my nieces and nephews, and it’s just cultural – it’s in me !

captcha fun : homeland 🙂

4 Rebecca June 18, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Great quote re: bailing out autos

This is a great discussion…

5 Hilary June 22, 2009 at 6:22 am

As someone who’s not a parent but hopes and plans to be one in Ontario a few years from now, I’ve read the report summary and welcome all the recommendations. I wonder how well it will work, but we’ve got to try something! My mum worked on the 1984 Taskforce on Childcare (I’m on the cover!) and 25 years later, we still have no national childcare program.

I hope the recommendations on enhanced leave aren’t swept under the carpet, though; I especially support extending it to the self employed and an exclusive paid leave for dads and non-birthing parents – I’m a huge supporter of fathers’ rights to participate fully in infant care and bonding. In England, where I currently live, the government is moving towards even more leave for dads (four months just for them).

6 Jill August 25, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Hi everyone. I think that Paula has hit the nail on the head when it comes to special needs. I see it all the time as an elementary school teacher. Teachers that have their hands up in the air because they don’t have strategies to deal with children with special needs. Our Learning Resource Teacher can only spread herself so thin! I had a little man that began school in JK of 2007. He has a severe speech delay and was in a municipal program for that. He could NOT pronounce simple words such as ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I wanted to him to have access to another SLP who could come to the school and see him on the days when he came. I was told ‘No’. SLP availability begins in SK, when he was finished with the program outside of school. However, it became very evident that he had other issues that I felt needed to be addressed. I begged our LST to have our school psychologist come and test him. She initially refused, indicating that he was too young for any testing. I requested again and again. Finally, she was going to come this spring (almost the end of SK!), but there was a crisis in the board and she was needed elsewhere. My little guy did not get tested or even observed. He will also not be retained as he will likely ‘get more help in Grade 1’. Even with the assistance of the SLP and myself, there was very little improvement. I feel so bad for him. Now he’ll go to Grade 1 and become even more frustrated. He has an excellent Grade 1 teacher and she is very much aware of his difficulties. However, I too, think the system needs to take better care of the students they already have.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: