Province has no plans for full-day kindergarten
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.”