Alberta struggles with All-day kindgarten
In Alberta, some districts have been forced to return to the part-time model, despite demand: The Prairie Rose School Division has been cornered by major budget cuts into cancelling its full-day program, a move that has disappointed teachers and parents.
Deputy superintendent Brian Andjelic said the district, which is located near Medicine Hat, began offering full-day programming about five years ago as a way to help high-needs students catch up to their peers. The extra class time wasn’t funded by the Ministry of Education so the district charged parents $210 a year to help cover costs.
“I’m absolutely sad to see it go,” he said. “We could really see the benefit it had on our kids and on our staff and parents.”
Other districts are following suit with the rest of the country: St. Albert Protestant Schools and the Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional District, two school boards north of Edmonton, began offering full-day kindergarten last fall after parents expressed interest.
The program at the Protestant board is expected to grow to full-day classes next fall at two more schools. Parents pay a fee, which has been raised slightly for next fall, to $320 a month.
“For some families it just works so much better because it fits their schedule so much better,” said Paula Power, a spokeswoman for the district.
A universal full-day approach seems unlikely any time soon in Alberta because kindergarten is optional, and population growth is boom or bust, depending on geography. Boards in Calgary and Edmonton have had to close schools due to declining enrolment numbers, while other boards, many in the suburbs, are bursting at the seams even without full-time kindergartners.
“We were blessed with the fact that where the requests [for full-day kindergarten] occurred there was space in the building for additional use,” said David Keohane, superintendent of the St. Albert Catholic board. “I sense one of the reasons why in this province it is not mandated by the government … would be the necessity to fund additional infrastructure.”
$330/per month,, kindergarten is optional
Full-day kindergarten from a child’s eye
After working in Israel and South America for four years in the field of education and development, I began my studies as an M.A. Candidate at the Jackman Institute of Child Study at OISE/UT in September 2010.
Why The Global went back to kindergaten?
With the introduction of full-day kindergarten programs in Ontario, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island last fall, Canada is leading the shift away from pen and paper exercises toward play-based learning. Politicians have staked billions of taxpayer dollars and the success of the next generation on this more subtle approach to teaching young children.With an interest in early learning and children’s photographs, my decision to study at OISE was inspired by Dr. Janette Pelletier whose work informs the Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program. Working with The Globe and Mail on the Kindergarten Diaries project presented the perfect opportunity to combine these interests with the components of my program: placements in the TDSB and academic courses.
Throughout the year, I used photography and drawings to gauge each child’s experience of kindergarten. By conducting finger puppet interviews, I learned what aspects of kindergarten they enjoyed the most. In these interviews, they also demonstrated their development of language skills. Sentences became longer, vocabulary increased, and the responses became more elaborate.
The outcome of using these measures was extremely positive. The kids and their parents loved it. As a whole, the project tells a story of full-day kindergarten from the child’s eye view and informs myself and other stakeholders about what is important to children and their families.
As a recent SSHRC award recipient, I plan on carrying out research on the implications of full-day kindergarten from the students’ perspective. The outcome of the Kindergarten Diaries project will greatly influence how I approach my research during the 2011-2012 year.