Saturday, 11 February 2012

Full-day kindergarten in Ontario - Drummond report

In a heavily anticipated report:

Kill full-day kindergarten, Drummond report 

I agree with this suggestion: cutting full-day kindergarten. This is the difference between an expensive 'education', which isn't what preschoolers need, versus a nurturing, open-ended, activity-based, day care which provides opportunities for pre-reading skills to develop.

Early Childhood Education - what it is NOT!
Kids do not benefit from having reading skills forced down their throats. They need time to be nurtured, while being exposed to activities that will allow them to develop naturally. The philosophy of early childhood education is being robbed, in lieu of standard trained teachers, with little knowledge of pre-reading skills. They are trained to teach reading, writing and arithmetic, but not how to create an open environment in which creativity is nurtured.
They need to be read to, not forced to read.
They need to be able to sit and relax, not exposed to those awful school bells every day, every 40 minutes, PA announcements at the whim of the boss, living their day on a 40-minute schedule.
They need to be exposed to a rich environment that includes a variety of materials, language, literature and experiences.

I know. I've done home day care. I've raised three children. I've taught JK to grade 8, mentored student teachers. I have a degree in ECE - four years of education in young children: psychology, human growth and development, at Ryerson University, with 900 hours of practicum placements in nursery schools, day care centres, private and public schools. Yet, it is the politicians who tell us to place our young children in institutions all day. It is just plain wrong.

Education quality indicators are a far better means by which we assess Ontario education: school attendance, teacher training and performance evaluations, addressing special needs, student attendance. This is how we predict school success.
Access to additional teacher qualifications (ADQ) -university courses: to develop specialists in math, reading, special education, etc. I have ADQs in primary education, my special education specialist, and M.Ed. in curriculum. All expensive courses that build better teachers and a better curriculum. Not day care in the guise of full-day kindergarten, all costing taxpayers far more than we need spend.

  • We need working parents to be able to find caregivers (especially for disadvantaged kids) who can provide a safe learning environment in which these skills are not taught (read forced), but facilitated, at the speed at which the learner is able to handle them. 
  • We need ECE grads who understand pedagogical practices, with sociology, psychology, and an understanding of the Key Experiences in Early Childhood, e.g., Classification (attributes, similarities, difference), seriation (ordering), numeracy, literacy, spatial relations (behind, up, down), temporal relations (today, tomorrow, yesterday). 
  • We need caregivers who can manage a child in day care, who are trained, responsible, and understand ages and stages.
  • Caregivers who know the questions to elicit thinking skills.
  • We need caregivers who understand that 'curriculum' is a dirty word in early childhood, and that the Ministry of Education cannot enforce cookie cutter learning expectations for 3 and 4 and 5-year olds.

a day based on 40-minute periods


desks in rows
dress up for a princess

crafts that look all the same - teachers with name tags,
walkie talkies, watched by principals, superintendents
concerned about performance and test scores
Let each teacher spend time in improving their curriculum, and increasing their awareness of disabilities and integrating curriculum and technology. Professional development is an important part of this, more training in classroom behaviour, and teaching, not testing.
games and songs!
So much more depends upon high test scores than a test at one point in time.

indoor free play

role play
more dress up!
being read to - with no pressure to perform


Red said...

I fully agree with your comments on pre school children. You should go one step further...this program should extend through the whole system. Since I've retired I look back at what I did and realize that there wasn't an awful lot of benefit to kids. Some were never ready for a program and some were so far ahead that the program was a pain in the butt for them. Rows of desks? What a killer! The administrators and program of studies people dictated what happened. My favorite assignments were when I was given a dozen students and went off with a modified program. The administration just wanted to get rid of these kids.
Okay, I better stop this rant!!!

Linda said...

You have some really cute photos of the kids at play!

Olga said...

I so very much agree!!