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Dozen schools to add all-day kindergarten

From heads to shoulders, knees and toes, kindergarteners can count on a lot of learning.

And in Beach-area schools, teachers will soon be counting many more kindergarten classes, as 12 public and Catholic schools are scheduled to add full-day kindergarten this September.

“We’re excited,” says Rita Gallippi, principal at Adam Beck Junior Public School, where construction crews are busy adding two new kindergarten classrooms on the school’s north side, and renovating a third one inside.

Next fall, Adam Beck will have three English and two French full-day kindergarten classes. An early parent survey shows Adam Beck will likely partner with a third-party daycare for before- and after-school care as well, which usually runs from about 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For the children, who will turn four or five by December, Gallippi said the all-day program is a fun, engaging way to get ready for Grade 1.

Parents have lots of questions, but generally, Gallippi said they are excited, too.

“They know they can go off to work and their children will have a full-day program, plus before- and after-care if they choose it,” she said.

The coming school year is the last part of a four-year roll-out of full-day kindergarten across Ontario. Only a handful of Beach schools made the switch to full-day in the first three years, since most of the schools had to build extra classes or retrofit old ones to get ready.

Crescent Town Elementary was the only local school that switched two years ago, meaning it now has graduates of full-day kindergarten in Grade 1.

“It’s a big adjustment, but we’re seeing a lot of good things because of it,” said principal Tammy Ross.

Grade 1 was previously the first time children were in school all day. It’s a big jump, and some of the younger ones found it hard just to stay awake.

“We see the kids settling in faster in September, and we’re noticing in Grade 1 that the kids seem a little bit more confident, mature, and able to handle a lot more,” said Ross.

Sheila Cary-Meagher, the trustee for Beach and some East York public schools, said local schools were lucky not to switch to full-day kindergarten in the first wave of the changeover, when provincial rules seemed to change every couple days.

“We didn’t get our first one until the third year,” said Cary-Meagher. “By that time, the first two horrible years had ironed some of it out, but it wasn’t all easy.”

While Adam Beck is getting new brick-and-mortar classrooms, and Earl Haig Public added three new rooms last year, Cary-Meagher said two more schools, Kew Beach and Gledhill, will have to make do with portables for now.

At one point, she said it looked like schools needing more classes might get pre-fabricated, modular additions, but they were turned down for their high price tag and limited potential for renovation. Still, Cary-Meagher said overall the new additions and renovations at public schools are going well.

“Actually, this is the first time I’ve felt really comfortable that they’ve done proper planning ahead of time,” she said, noting that enrolment is expected to rise as the children of baby-boomers are now starting families.

Angela Kennedy, trustee for local Catholic schools, said building additions was not an issue, but St. John’s and St. Denis are doing some renovations work as they get ready to join St. Brigid in having full-day kindergarten next year.

“The Catholic schools in the Beaches have more capacity than, for instance, the schools in Etobicoke and the centre of the city,” she said, since fewer Catholics are immigrating to southeastern Toronto than in previous years.

Even with the on-site daycares at several Beach schools, Cary-Meagher said Beach parents have to be extra-forward thinking if they want to have their children in all-day care.

“If you don’t get your paper in when the kid is born, you’re not getting in,” she said. “It’s stunning.”

9 Responses »

  1. Why don't the provincial Liberals call a spade a spade - free day care.

    I'm sure the princpal is thrilled - it adds more jobs for highly paid ($100k plus) babysitters, errr, kindergarten teachers, and expands her fiefdom.

  2. It is not adding kindergarten teachers, it is adding Early Childhood Educators, and they don't make $100,000 they make closer to $60,000.

    And its not free, our taxes pay for it.

    You should observe a kindergarden class sometime, to see what really goes on. And how hard the teachers work. They earn every penny, as do the ECE's who support the children's learning. As challenging as it is to implement, the program is needed and welcome in my opinion.

    • I would have preferred that you not invite someone like that to visit the school. Although, it does sound like he is seriously lacking in education and could benefit from some schooling.

      • Why the ad hominem attack? Don't have anything to address my arguments on the merits? Sounds like you're the uneducated one!

  3. It's absolutely free - there are no user fees. It is supported by taxes from everyone. A $1 billion/year boondoggle! Cancel it and it pays for the entire Big Move. Priorities people! Early Childhood Educator = Fancy Term for Babysitter.

  4. There are many examples around the world where education is not valued enough to be paid for by all citizens but would you really want to live in those societies? We all benefit from living in a country where our neighbours and their children are educated so they can participate as contributing citizens. Their parents can leave their children while they go to work knowing they will find their kids where they left them; safe, sound and engaged by professional educators.

  5. I certainly value education. Full day kindergarten is not education. Empirical evidence indicates that it provides no enduring advantages. Why not have professional educators looking after children from birth? Full day kindergarten was nothing more than a sop by the Liberals to buy votes and to create a legacy for Dalton McGuinty as the "education premier". Unfortunately for McGuinty , his legacy will be as the multi-billion dollar wasting, evidence destroying, cover up premier.

  6. "Full day kindergarten is not education"

    There may be some truth to this statement when full day kindergarten is compared to education in terms of learning the three "R's". However engaging children early on in the educational process whereby they are better prepared to start there formal education has merits not only in terms of education but economically as well. Calling it a boondoggle hardly qualifies as a critical analysis of the situation

    See p22 :http://ywcacanada.ca/data/research_docs/00000122.pdf

    The economic impact to disadvantaged children may be even greater as elaborated in studies by York University psychologist Stuart Shanker, author of Calm, Alert and Learning: Classroom Strategies for
    Self-Regulation as well as by Nobel-winning economist James Heckman who says the soft skills learned in full time daycare deliver
    the cost-benefits of early education.

    Is there a valid argument that now is the wrong time to be spending a billion dollars on this program? Will it be used by some parents as glorified babysitting? Perhaps but that in no way invalidates the value to society over the long haul. The Liberals under Dalton McGuinty certainly were profligate with our tax dollars and for that should be held to account. That however does not negate the benefits of full day kindergarten in terms of the future success of children or the economic and social benefits to society.

  7. A minor point: It is the Baby Boomers' grandchildren that are entering the school system, not their great-grandchildren.

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