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Kindergarten, how much is too much?

Yesterday Premier McGuinty announced his plans for All Day Kindergarten and today Dani wrote an excellent post in support and praise of it.  I think Dani brought up some really wonderful points about why sending children to Kindergarten all day as opposed to half day is a good thing.  I, however, want to play the other side of the field.

When the Premier first started talking about this last year, I was not in favour of it and hoped that it would not come to fruition.  I am one who feels that our children already spend way too many years in school and that these early formative years would be better spent at home with their family.

I should also remind my readers that I am a Stay at Home Mom, by choice and by sacrifice.  Hubby and I decided before J was even born that we were going to try to do it.  It would not have mattered which one of us stayed home, but since Hubby made more money than I did and really loves what he does, it was decided that I would stay at home.  In the last six years that I have not been out in the field working I have had to bring work in on occasion to make ends meet and would do it again if the need should arise.  My current venture into Photography, is one of passion and desire and at this point does not pay the bills, but hopefully one day will.

From listening to Premier McGuinty on television it was pretty clear to me that his intentions for all day Kindergarten is to supplement childcare.  Having the schools offer before and after care means that the children could be at school as early as 7:30 in the morning and as late as 6:00pm, that is a long time to be in one place.   I understand that there is a need for childcare, but do we really want the Government running daycare?  Do we really want to give them that much say in how our children are being raised?

I guess I just don’t feel that a four year old, who possibly still needs a nap, should be at school all day long.  I see the teachers twice a day, five days a week.  I know that they will not be thrilled to have the same four and five year olds in their class all day long.  It is very difficult to teach 20 four year olds for half a day, let alone a whole one.  And with more children in classes that need extra attention, I can certainly see some of the teachers changing to higher grades.

I am putting my thoughts out there and would love to hear what you think about it, whether you strongly agree or disagree.  Each Province is different for Kindergarten so it would be interesting to see what others think who either already have their children in all day Kindergarten or if you live in Quebec or Saskatchewan where there is still only 5yr old Kindergarten, how did or does that work for your child?  For those of you in Manitoba or Northern Ontario where school is a full day for two or three days per week, did you enjoy this for your children?

I would love to hear from all of you on this as it is a subject dear to my heart.  I cannot believe that my little girl will have to leave me for an entire day in just over two years, it just doesn’t seem right.

Categories: Misc., Motherhood, Politics

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lynn June 16, 2009, 9:41 pm

    I could not agree with you more. I’m a stay-at-home mom and it breaks my heart to imagine my youngest going off to school at age 4 for a full day. It’s not like a daycare, where there is one worker to (say) 4 or 5 kids. Here, there will be one teacher to 20 kids…no where near the same level of personal attention, personal care. She’ll go off in the morning to this black hole and then return home at the end of the day and I’ll never know if she got enough to eat, or if something bothered her, or what.

    I have heard that the way that all-day kindergarten works is that the teacher takes the class for the first 2 1/2 hours and teaches the curriculum, as it is now. Then, an ECE worker takes over for the afternoon, which involves lunch, nap time, and then playtime. You are not allowed to remove your child from the school for the afternoon program…but I don’t understand why my kid should eat, nap, and play at school instead of at home with me.

    All-day kindergarten may work better for working moms, who don’t have to deal with the mess that is trying to arrange for your kid to change places midday, but I’m here. I’m home, I’m doing stuff with my kid, I’m teaching them things, I’m talking to them, bonding with them, sharing with them. Why does the province think it can do better?

    Makes me want to look into home schooling :).

  • beachmama June 16, 2009, 9:53 pm

    Thank you for your comment. You have brought up some excellent extra points that I hadn’t fully realized. I do not want an ECE worker taking care of my child for the afternoon, I know that for sure. I may be homeschooling after all! I was under the assumption that the ECE workers would be doing the before and after care. I must get through reading the material. I need to be prepared for homeschooling or private schooling for at least Kindergarten.

    Oh the Joys!

  • Kami June 16, 2009, 11:18 pm

    I am strongly in agreement with you Anna. A full day at age 4! TOO much in my opinion. Here in Saskatchewan they have, in some schools, implemented full day every day or full day alternating day kindergarten. I would be okay with full day alternating but full day everyday, NO WAY. Thankfully we have half day at our school.

    I would look into home schooling too if we required our 4 year olds to go to school. Actually, why do they? I would be opposed to that too. They are in school for so darn long. Can’t they just be kids?

  • DaniGirl June 17, 2009, 6:38 am

    Great post, Anna! I’m always glad to be ‘challenged’ by you — you have some great insight.

    To be clear, though, the new plan is totally optional, as is JK and SK right now. If you prefer, you can keep your daughter at home until she is six! The full day component IS about daycare, though. Integrated, quality child care with a strong educational component.

    You ask “I understand that there is a need for childcare, but do we really want the Government running daycare? Do we really want to give them that much say in how our children are being raised?” To answer the first question, absolutely yes! I do think the government should be *regulating* child care so it’s equal and accessible for all. It’s the individual teachers and schools who will matter at your child’s level, though — so they’re the one “running” the daycare.

    And to the second question — you’re totally right, you are the best person to make the decisions about your kids. But what about those that aren’t able to make the choice you did? Shouldn’t there be universal, accessible options that ensure kids are in a safe, stable environment all day long, instead of maybe at the neighbourhood (unregulated) sitter for a couple of hours, school for a couple of hours, an after-school program for a couple of hours… an integrated, cohesive program seems like a much better idea to me.

    Thanks for letting me continue my blog post (rant?) over here! *wink*

  • Chantal June 17, 2009, 9:43 am

    Hey Anna,

    I agree that this program is not for everyone, but it is most definitely for me. I have already had my son in a similar type of day care set up since he was 2. He loves it and he is thriving in it. I am lucky, it is hard program to get a child into. Quality day care is a problem for working parents. And since this program mostly addresses care for school age children, that problem may continue.

    Now that my son is entering JK things get complicated. With only half day of school, day care options are limited. Not all day cares want kids half day. It may be hard to find quality care that is on your child’s bus route or catchment area. These are all things that have kept me up at night when I was trying to find adequate childcare arrangements for my boys. I know other working parents feel the same way.

    I really do feel that this could be a best of both worlds set up. Parents who stay home can continue to keep their kids home half day. Parents who work have stability and comfort knowing their kids are well taken care of.

  • thethinkingsquare June 17, 2009, 9:45 am

    They are only babies for such a short time. Nothing can replace a hot lunch and some quiet time. I know my girls needed these things at age 4, plus they were both fall babies which meant they had to climb the steps of the big yellow school bus at the tender age of 3, they were always happy when they climbed down, school day finished, just a few short hours later. Why the need to push them so young?

  • beachmama June 17, 2009, 1:51 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. And Dani, thank you for weighing in.

    I finally was able to read the report myself as I really needed to fully understand, was it optional or not? And to my relief not only is it optional, but it looks like it could take three or more years to implement due to the fact that the majority of schools will need construction on the Kindergarten rooms in order to make it work.

    I still think that a full day of Kindergarten is way too much, however, this should not be toted as “Full Day Kindergarten” as it is still half day with daycare in the afternoon.

    And as I do understand there is a need for daycare spaces out there, I still feel that if the Government actually offered parents the opportunity to stay at home with some financial assistance, more people would opt for that choice.

    If I took my former salary, less daycare, less clothing, food and transportation allowance I am left with only a few hundred dollars that would have gone into the family pot. If the Government were able to supplement parents who stay at home or offer tax breaks the same as they do for paying for daycare, more people would do it. I know it would make it a lot easier for those of us who do.

    Or maybe I am just blowing a lot of hot air and I should move to a farm and home school my kids so we are both self sufficient and self taught.

  • Chantal June 17, 2009, 2:11 pm

    I think income splitting for parents would rock and yes a lot more moms would stay home. But I doubt it will ever happen. I would love to stay home. I hope that with this child I might get my chance… FINALLY

  • Lynn June 17, 2009, 2:24 pm

    Beachmama, now that you’ve read the actual report (which I totally should do, when I get a free minute)…is it optional in the sense that you can just skip the whole year, or optional in the sense that you can send your kid for just the morning, and pick them up at lunch?

  • beachmama June 17, 2009, 2:27 pm

    Lynn, I think that JK is still optional as it is now, but SK is mandatory just like now, but you can skip the afternoon part. The option is half, full, extended day. The half and full don’t cost anything but to have the extended day it is $26 a day, which works out to $5000 a year after taxes.

  • snackmommy June 17, 2009, 8:31 pm

    As an outsider from another province, could you clarify something regarding cost? If you are going full days but not extended, and in the afternoon, you are in the care of an ECE, do you have to pay anything for that, or is it covered by the taxpayer?

    Big fat Yahoo! on the income splitting idea. I don’t think it will happen, although I didn’t think it would happen for pensioners either so who knows. We can dream can’t we?

  • beachmama June 17, 2009, 8:39 pm

    Great question SnackMommy. The afternoon ECE care will be paid for by the taxpayers, from my understanding of the document.

    Yes, income splitting would be fabulous, but until that happens yes, we will keep dreaming… watch it happen when I finally return to the workforce 😉 .

  • Amy @ Muddy Boots June 17, 2009, 11:52 pm

    My family came to Ottawa/Gatineau from Regina via Calgary. When I went to register Liam for kindergarten (just after his 5th birthday), I asked if he’d be going in the morning or the afternoon. The receptionist looked at me blankly and replied, “Both.”

    It took all that was in me not to turn on my heel and march out of there. I spent the whole afternoon fighting tears at the thought of him being gone all day. Half day is not an option here. While he does love it, I miss him… most days. But if I’m honest I’ll admit that, with a 2 1/2 year old and a new baby, it has been nice some days. But even now that he’s turned six (last month) there are still days that I can see he’d be better served to stay home and nap!

  • Karen MEG June 18, 2009, 8:07 am

    Great post, Anna, and I read Dani’s post on this very subject as well. Of course this will only start rolling once my daughter is in Grade 1, but I think in general,it is a good option.

    I didn’t read the full report, but depending on the curriculum, I think it could very well work, even for the young ones. Especially if the childcare component would offer some “quiet time” or nap time. That would be key. There is no way a 4 or 5 year old can be learning the entire time they are at school. In our school, we still have our option of half days (morning/afternoon) or full day alternate (T/Th or M/W and alternate Fridays). I can see how the alternating days would be easier for parents needing childcare. But I’ve heard that the full day programs do indeed have a quieter component in the afternoon just because kids can’t stay “on” the whole day.

    My girl is just finishing up JK; she was born very late in the year, so she was 3 when she started in September. But you know, she was really ready for it and she has done very well. With me staying at home, and the girlie still needing her nap, I decided on the half day morning option. Both my kids are/were nappers and need the quiet time. I was scrambling to get her the half day spot like her brother had; turns out I needn’t have worried because most parents were trying to get into the alternate full days.

    That being said, I put the girlie into daycare for afternoons in the fall as I had a couple of work projects with tight timelines. And it did not go over well. If it were longer term she probably would have adjusted, but I couldn’t stand it her crying about it all the time. I also suspect she could have handled it better if she had never known that I was at home. If this were the program from the get go and were more integrated, it would have been a lot easier.

    I think it’s about time, though, that the government really took a hard look at what is best for this next generation, and have a cohesive plan in place. So I see this as a positive step, for sure.

  • DaniGirl June 18, 2009, 9:35 am

    Great comments! Just to clarify, SK isn’t mandatory, either. In Ontario, school is only mandatory starting in Grade One. And from what I’ve read, the cost would be nil to parents (directly) for regular school hours, but there would be additional fees for hours outside of core hours — i.e. before 9 am, after 3:30 pm, or whenever the ‘big kids’ are in full-time hours.

  • Loukia June 18, 2009, 9:42 am

    I already have a lot of anxiety over the fact that my oldest son will be starting kindergarten 4 in the fall… and only for the mornings! The only reason I am back at work and leaving both boys at home is because my family (mom, grandmother, inlaws, husband in the a.m.) are able to look after my children. Take them out of adventures, to the park, home for a home cooked meal, relaxation time, whatever. I feel good knowing they’re doing what I would be doing with them if I were home. I think in many Christos is already ready to start Grade 1! But – he’s only turning 4 at the beginning of August. I know we both are not ready for him to be in school full-time. However, I do like that they’re offering parents a choice. I know many people in the French board whose children were/are in full day kindergarten and I haven’t heard too many complaints from them. It is a very personal decision, and parents will make the right decision for their child and situation. Great post, Anna!

  • Rebecca June 18, 2009, 9:28 pm

    Great post. I completely understand about wanting to have as much control as parents as we can over how our children spend their days. As a SAHM I am choosing not to use/want childcare and will likely not put my children in full time JK (and possibly SK). However, I do support regulated, extended learning (essentially daycare, but still…) for others. I want the choice, but wouldn’t want to take that choice from those who need it.

    The groups who will really benefit? Those in low-income, poverty stricken families who are at-risk and vulnerable. These extended programs will be very important to those children.

    As for costs, as I mention in my post I am certainly concerned about that, but I’d rather this type of plan be implemented than a universal daycare plan that doesn’t cover what this report does.

    And as an aside: I can only dream of income splitting! Here’s hoping one day 😉

    Thanks for such a well written post!

  • jolene July 7, 2009, 8:53 pm

    we live at regina beach sask. Out here the kindergarten students go to school all day but every second day. We loved it. Our child didn’t have any problems and the teacher was fairly good at keeping the kids occupied.

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