Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Debate around Full-day Kindergarten still rages

Play-based learning is nothing new. Activity-based learning, discovery learning for math programs, all have shown some issues and an impact on students in later years. FDK isn't any new curriculum. It does duplicate the Primary years curriculum, and rather than focusing on pre-literacy and pre-numeracy, these kids are being whipped into shape, skipping many of the joys that can be had in open-concept, open-ended activity centres.

 They are learning routines, how to walk in a line, how to behave in an assembly of 200 kids, listening to bells go off every 40 minutes. These are the Key Experiences that kids should learn in JK/AK, not reading and writing.

Kindergarten teachers think this is a creative craft.
They all look the same., pre-cut butterflies.
Classification, seriation, representation, expressive and receptive language appropriate for their age
 and stages. Playing with hands-on activities, running, touching, playing with water, sand, cooking, listening to music, singing, making rhymes, cutting and pasting, role play. Even their art work all looks the same in JK/SK classrooms. It isn't open-ended, personal expressions. Teacher precut materials in order for the kids to all have a piece of art work that looks acceptable.
Grandkid's art

It's not so much that kids are 'mastering' gr. 1/2 curriculum. The likely problem is the JK and SK teachers are using gr. 1/2 curriculum in the JK/SK settings. I saw this with my own daughter, now 35 years old, who entered Kindergarten knowing how to read. She did endless worksheets where she circled all the things that were red.

Learning to read involves much pre-reading prep, and identification of letters and numbers. We didn't teach them to write their names until later in SK. These kids come to school, from families who work at this, already printing their names, doing art work, using scissors, and coloured pencils, rather than crayons.

My other issue with FDK is the size of the classes. My granddaughter is 4 and she is going into a class of 30 JK/AK students. Granted there is one teacher and two ECEs (to provide before and after-school care, as well) but what a zoo this will be. They don't know how they will cope. How do you do crowd control for a group of 30 kids? ECEs are used to having a Day Care ratio of 1:8.
Some of these kids aren't fully toilet trained. Some are still 3 years old, in a class with kids as old as 5. How does one encourage activty-based learning, free play, when they are going to have to monitor the numbers of kids in the activity centre, block centre, art centre, dress-up centre, book centre?
This massive experiment, in lieu of good day care, is having an impact on our wee ones. I fear for their generation.


Full-day kindergarten (FDK) impacts Grades 1, 2

Ontario kindergarten students are so ahead in their learning that it's prompting school boards to revisit the curriculum for subsequent grades. [Kristin Rushowy  ]

With the final phase of the full-day rollout happening this week, school boards say that over the past five years of implementation, they’ve had one big kinder surprise: teachers in Grades 1 and 2 now find their lessons no longer work for children steeped in play-based learning — kids who are more confident, ask more questions and who are used to setting the agenda in the classroom.
THIS ISN'T NEW!!!
The Ontario government now plans to expand play- and inquiry-based learning throughout the elementary years as part of its new action plan.
RELATED:
Ontario Rolls Out FDK
Not all the full-day kindergarten classrooms are currently available, though the program is now fully rolled out, according to Ontario Education Minister Liz sandals. There are 265,000 kids enrolled this fall in the program for four- and five-year-olds at 3,600 schools. (CBC)

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