Prov­ince has no plans for full-day kinder­garten

The Compass - - P2011ORTHTE - BY DIANE CROCKER

De­spite an ob­vi­ous in­ter­est from par­ents, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Joan Burke said the prov­ince has no in­ten­tion of im­ple­ment­ing full-day kinder­garten.

Burke couldn’t say when the topic may come up for de­bate or dis­cus­sion, but said at this point in time there are no plans to move ahead with full­day kinder­garten. And that’s de­spite the fact the is­sue was raised sev­eral times dur­ing the re­cent elec­tion cam­paign and was even a part of the NDP elec­tion plat­form.

In­stead, Burke said the prov­ince will be mov­ing for­ward with its early learn­ing strat­egy with a fo­cus on the zero to three age group.

Burke said money was al­lo­cated to the strat­egy in this year’s bud­get to de­velop and im­ple­ment early lit­er­acy pro­gram­ming. The re­sources will be based on a cur­ricu­lum frame­work and will come from the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion’s early child­hood learn­ing divi­sion.

Burke said the fo­cus will be on the fam­ily and par­ents.

“Mak­ing sure that par­ents have ap­pro­pri­ate re­sources and in­for­ma­tion pro­mot­ing early learn­ing.”

She said this is based on the as­sump­tion that most early learn­ing hap­pens in the home and needs to be pro­moted within the home.

There will be re­sources and in­for­ma­tion kits avail­able to par­ents at var­i­ous stages dur­ing the zero to three age range that will give par­ents an idea of the types of things they should be read­ing to their chil­dren at the those stages and how to fa­cil­i­tate learn­ing at those lev­els.

She said the dis­tri­bu­tion of the ma­te­ri­als and in­for­ma­tion could be t ied to the prov­ince’s im­mu­niza­tion pro­gram and given out at the six, 12- and 18-month vis­its.

The min­is­ter said the depart­ment will also be look­ing to par tner wi t h t he prov­ince’s li­braries to make su r e th e re­sources that are be­ing pro­moted to par­ents are read­ily avail­able, and to en­sure that li­brary per­son­nel are able to di­rect par­ents to ap­pro­pri­ate re­sources and ma­te­ri­als for their chil­dren. “So that we work in sync, we work to­gether.”

She said the re­sources given to par­ents will pro­vide only a sam­ple of what they should be look­ing for when they go to a li­brary or a book­store.

Burke ex­pects the prov­ince’s com­mit­ment to the zero to three age group and what it’s do­ing there will con­tinue into the next five or six years.

“We’d need to roll it out over quite a few years in or­der to do the ap­pro­pri­ate eval­u­a­tion,” said Burke.

“And it’s key to eval­u­ate what we’re do­ing to make sure as we move for­ward that we’re not just do­ing this ’cause it’s nice to do, we’re do­ing this be­cause it does have an im­pact on early learn­ing.”

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