This year’s batch of kindergarten students are embarking on an entirely new experience that generations preceding them have not had – a full-day of instruction rather than a half.
To that end, for the last year School District 27 has been preparing for this September when it along with districts across the province will welcome their youngest charges for a provincially mandated lengthened day.
For the local school district accomodating the expanded program required the renovation of three locations – 100 Mile House, Cataline and 150 Mile House schools – an increase in resources, such as play equipment and books, staff training and hiring a few additional teachers (at the time of the interview the number was not known).
Harj Manhas, school district assistant superintendant, says those measures haven’t cost the district as the Ministry of Education has funded building renovations, additional teachers and assisted with training requirements.
According to the ministry, it committed $365 million over three years to implement full-day kindergarten for all children by Sept. 2011.
Manhas says the process of enrolling students in kindergarten remains the same.
But kindergarten, he says, is not mandatory but optional for parents.
If parents are concerned about putting their children in school for a full day, he says, they are welcome to speak to the school’s principal about their concerns.
“Some parents may not feel their their children are ready for a full day. That’s something the parent and the principal will have to sit down and discuss to find out what kind of transition they can implement for the child.”
When the ministry announced it was moving to a full-day it cited research that suggested full-day kindergarten can have long-term benefits for children’s academic and social skills and help them to succeed in school and life.
It also suggested full-time learning was associated with improved literacy and numeracy, smoother transitions to Grade 1 and increased post-secondary graduation rates.
Kindergarten classes can not exceed 22 students as mandated by legislation.