|love of reading|
Critics say full-day kindergarten was rushed into place, before it was researched. I agree. I participated in a study, but unless you understand the differences between day care a kindergarten, you miss the point.
Let me tell you about day care.
|Prereading - recognition of letters|
An ECE, teaching crafts, and songs, with an afternoon nap, the news said. How do you 'teach' a craft?
They need play time, snack time, circle time, and a rich environment, hot meals, good food, nap times, with language, discipline, structure and routines.
A teacher teaches (they say) listening skills and routines. Routines? With 25 - 28 kids? Humpf. This is crowd control. The teacher is well-paid, with a 40-minute preparation time (20 minutes when the class has French), with no contact with the children. The ECE grad, paid much less, doesn't get this union-bargained right.
|Fun with fine muscles|
|Reading buddies - to promote literacy|
You cannot teach in a class of 25. I know. I've taught in day care, nursery schools, JK - Gr. 8. The bottom line is you empower the kids to learn what they want to know. You give them a selection of games, activities, toys (sand play, water play, dress-up centre, embed toileting routines) and the learn through play. No wrote learning. Pre-reading skills, recognition of shapes, colours, number are not important. Kids learn this when they are ready. I've seen 3-year-olds reading and using scissors, and 5-year-olds who cannot. They inspire each other. They laugh, use fine and large muscles, and participate in a variety of hands-on activities.
Far better we give children a supportive, open-ended learning environment, rather forcing on them pre-reading skills. Some kids come to school never having had discipline, routines, and in a day care, with a loving, caring ECE grad, they will find success at their own speed, at their own level.
I am not in favour of full-day kindergarten. The teacher-student ratio alone supports those with advanced skills, frustrates those who need lower ratios, more individual attention, and activities that meet their individual needs.
- 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.