Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The death of preschool

Yes, it's true. With McGuinty's Ontario, the new initiative of full-day kindergarten has destroyed the chances that our kids can just be children. Ontario has spent $1.5 BILLION instituting full-day kindergarten. Schools are crowded, and teachers, with a one-year B.Ed., are not trained in delivering preschool. They are educated in the ways of curriculum delivery in grade 1 - 6. I know. I've seen them, with their cookie-cutter art, increasing expectations beyond that which a child can manage. Young boys, especially, are not able to recognize letters or write their names, and there is pressure to do so prior to the time at which they are ready.

I have long written, participated in phone surveys before the whole plan was in place, and I long believe that preschoolers have different learning needs. While the government touts a play-based learning principle, many teachers cannot grasp this message.

Preschoolers do not belong in an institution, and a half-day program may be just the thing they need to please parents who do not grasp the activity-based education philosophy.
We have many wonderful ranges in services for them; from JK/SK, nursery school, home cay care, profit and non-profit day care, before and after school care, Montessori, and other programs that have proven successful for young children.

I have done practicum in private schools, day care centres, nursery schools, and have participated in many systems.

I have seen the benefits for our at-risk kids, who can be placed in a subsidised space, with trained Early Childhood Educators (ECE) who provide a balanced day, in an intimate setting, often homes, or churches, where a kind, caring loving placement will support at-risk families.

In day care, a trained professional, in a maximum teacher student ratio of 1:8, can be much more in touch with his/her charges. The opportunities for interaction between parent and teacher increase and a teacher has an opportunity to watch for serious issues in the children. They can advocate for the kids, find a moment to share a highlight of the day, or provide more information to the parent who may not have child-rearing skills other parents possess.

The Death of PreschoolThe trend in early education is to move from a play-based curriculum to a more school-like environment of directed learning. But is earlier better? And better at what? 
By Paul Tullis

PAUL TULLIS has written for the New Yorker, Wired, McSweeney’s, NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and more than 50 other print, digital and broadcast media outlets. He lives in Los Angeles. “The Death of Preschool” appears in the November/December issue of Scientific American Mind

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