Family Nature

All Day Kindergarten is All the Talk

This week Dalton McGuinty announced the list of schools that will be offering full day kindergarten this September and it’s been all the talk. By 2015 it is expected that all Ontario schools will offer full day kindergarten at an estimated cost of 1.5 billion dollars per year.

Most families I know are really happy about this program I can understand that. This will save many families a lot of money. I don’t begrudge them of that.

Personally, I’m not that excited about it. I don’t expect that it will affect our family. Thankfully, our school is not one of the 71 Toronto schools (almost 600 in Ontario) that will offer this program this September. So for me that means that only my youngest (who will start school in 2011) might be eligible, and she may well be out of kindergarten before our school becomes one of the ones offering it. I say thankfully because I’m glad that I won’t even have to worry about it for at least two years and perhaps not at all.

If you asked me right now, if my two kindergarten boys would go all day if they could, I’d say “no way.” Why? For many reasons but mostly because I’m a stay at home mum and 3 of my 4 kids have birthdays late in the year. So for me it seems too young for them to be away from me for that long. Also because I don’t really see that my kids will benefit from more hours at school at that age.

I don’t question the benefits of early learning. I think it’s pretty well accepted that it is beneficial. I’m just not convinced that this is the motive behind the program and I kind of feel like we’re all being lied to. Can we please just call it what it is? It’s publicly funded childcare.

The Ontario Ministry of Education’s website calls the program “part of the province’s plan to build a stronger school system and a well-educated workforce.” Really? Adding an extra 2.5 hours or so a day for four and five year olds is going to build a well-educated workforce? Come on. I have a hard time buying that (and I’d love to know on what they base this prediction).

When this topic has come up in conversation, I always hear happy parents talking about how much money they will save. I think it’s great that this will be helpful to families – I really, really do. But answer me this: aside from saving families money, what are the benefits? Are you excited about all day kindergarten? Other than potential savings, why? Do you think this is going to make your children smarter? Happier? More “well-educated”?

Please understand friends, it’s not that I think there is anything wrong with all day kindergarten. I don’t. For kids that are in childcare I don’t think it’s going to make any difference at all. For kids that aren’t, I’m sure it will be fine too. One friend pointed out to me that 2.5 hours a day in kindergarten is arbitrary and was established at a time when most families had a stay at home parent. Well, isn’t 6 hour kindergarten arbitrary too? I just feel like we’re being sold snake oil here.

Can we just say that this part of an answer to a childcare problem that we’ve been facing for ages? You know, the shortage of affordable and accessible childcare for which advocates have been lobbying the government for a solution, for years. It is part of a solution that people have been asking for, for as long as I have had kids (and much longer, I’m sure. I only started paying attention to these kinds of things after I had kids.) Why are we calling it something else?

6 thoughts on “All Day Kindergarten is All the Talk

  1. AlbertaMama

    I agree with you on the reasons for full day kindergarten. It’s something my husband and I talked about at length when we still lived in Barrie…”would we put Morgan in all day kindergarten?” Our answer was no! I personally don’t think that 4 is old enough to be away from home that long. Let’s keep in mind…it’s not just 2.5 hours a day longer (that’s just “instructional” time correct?), there’s also that hour long lunch too.
    I see why it’s important for other families and why it would work for them. I even know some stay-at homes who are excited about it, because their kid just loves school that much.
    Here in Alberta we only have one year of kindergarten and each school may or may not have a full day option. I’m choosing to homeschool right now, because my guy is almost 4 and he won’t be allowed to attend school here until he’s almost 5 1/2. Now I think that’s too old to not be learning how to do all the basics. I like the old way. The way I went to school…half days starting the Sept. I was 4 and doing 2 years of that to ease us into all-day school in Gr. 1. It’s an easier transition that way, I think!

    Good on ya’ for talking about it and letting out your opinion, eventhough it may be different from a lot of the parents you’re talking too. You’re not alone in how you feel or what you think, not alone at all!!!

  2. mary

    They are talking of the same thing here in Nebraska.. and it already happens up in South Dakota, (our former home). mihigna and I are against it for cunksi, and will not be participating in it.
    For us, it’s because we know our daughter well, and we know she needs her rest time or she can’t make it through a whole day. In Sd and here, they wont offer nap/rest time.
    We also don’t believe in “publicly funded childcare,” when we are perfectly content to be with and raise our child. Many people don’t understand our choices, working less hours, bringing in less money, living on less, in order to maintain the beautiful gift we have called family time and the incredible relationship we have with our daughter.
    I’m glad you discussed this, it’s an important subject that is quickly affecting everyone.

  3. Heathre

    My daughter will start kindergarten this coming September. We live in a small rural Alberta village and we are lucky enough to live across the street from our school (k-12). As kindergarten isn’t manditory in Alberta, our school actually does not offer kindergarten. However, a room is rented in the school and a teacher hired privately so that kindergarten is an option. The class runs Tuesday and Thursday and every other Friday for full days. I am okay with this. My daughter doesn’t nap during the day so I know her routine won’t be disturbed in that sense. Plus, even though I know she will be tired, I know that she will be able to handle it.

    I get that working parents will appreciate full day kindergarten because it will save them money, and child care is very expensive. I don’t buy into the theory that it will make a better, more educated work force in the long run though.

  4. Meagan Francis

    They’re switching to all-day kindy here too and I am of mixed feelings on it. I think that’s an awfully long day for little ones, (a lot of which will be taken up by snacks and nap and lunch anyway) and I would prefer to have my very young child with me more of the day. On the other hand, it makes things a lot easier for working parents, which is hard for me to argue with. And I won’t mind only having one pick-up time, rather than two, like I do now (noon for my kindergartener, 3:50 for my 4th grader).

    I absolutely don’t think it’s going to lead to a more ‘ready’ group of first-graders, except maybe in that they’ll know how to navigate the lunch line already.

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