School Daze


Last night as I surfed around on Twitter, I was struck by all the comments from our mom followers sharing their thoughts on their ‘babies’ heading off to kindergarten today. The majority of moms seemed more worried about how many tears they would shed than how many tears their children would shed. Insterestingly, among Ontario, BC and PEI moms, there was a lot of chat about the new full day kindergarten, launching today. Some were thrilled to have the kids gone for the full day, and others were clearly sad to be losing this time with their little ones.
With my youngest out of kindergarten this year (hello, grade one!), I hadn’t been paying too much attention to the planned changes to the kindergarten program, but I participated in a roundtable last week with Premier Dalton McGuinty and a number of other social media moms, and learned a great deal about the new plans for Ontario.

Premier McGuinty shared with our group some compelling evidence that full-day early learning supports more success with a transition to formal schooling and future academic accomplishments. He also shared data that showed that investment in early learning pays off in the future for society as a whole with economic advantages through a more productive workforce and savings on social welfare.

From my simplistic point of view, it always struck me that with 2.5 hours of school every day in a half-day kindergarten program, by the time you got through roll-call, recess, snack and packing up for the end of the day, there was precious little time left for anything else, so I welcome the opportunity for full-day learning for our children. Furthermore, I was impressed to know that in conjunction with the full-day school, the new initiative also includes very low-cost, before-and-after school care so children can spend the entire day at the same facility, under the care of early childhood education specialists, and not be schlepped around from one place to the next. If you are in Ontario, you can get more details on the program at

At our session last week, I also learned (or perhaps was reminded) that kindergarten in Ontario is optional—children are not required by law to be in school until grade one—and for those children who are in areas where full-day kindergarten is being offered this fall (it is gradually being rolled out across the province as facilities permit, and will be fully available across the province by 2016), parents are able to send their children for just a half-day if they prefer. So it seems this new initiative offers more child care and educational choices to families.

What do you think of full day kindergarten? Is it right for your family or not? I would love to know your thoughts. (And you can follow the debate on Twitter too using #FDK.)

Full-Day Kindergarten round table with Dalton McGuinty


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