Full-day kindergarten benefits kids, parents, staff | Print |
Written by Kari Pritchard   
Friday, 23 March 2012 14:04

Recent research from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto shows that children, parents and staff all benefit from full-day kindergarten.

Research on children who go to school for full-day kindergarten shows it can benefit their education. COURTESY The U.S. National Archives

Janette Pelletier, director of the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study at OISE, has been leading the research on the impact of full-day early learning for children and their families in the region of Peel for three years, she told thedailyplanet.com.

In the first two years, before full-day kindergarten was introduced, Pelletier was studying integrated early childhood services at five schools in Peel and comparing the research to five controlled sites that only had half-day kindergarten.

When full-day kindergarten was introduced in the fall of 2010, said Pelletier, she got an additional research grant and added full-day kindergarten to her earlier research.

After the first year of research involving children in full-day kindergarten, the results have shown that having a full-day of school is beneficial for children, parents and staff.

Not only did staff of the classes – made up of both an educated kindergarten teacher and an early childhood educator – find that they worked well together, said Pelletier, but parents also benefitted from having their kids busy all day.

“Just the preliminary results of this show that parents most often feel stressed about trying to find care for their children the other half of the day,” she said of challenges parents face with half-day kindergarten. “But you see when care is already provided by a full-day program they feel much less stressed about that.”

Children in both full and half day kindergarten were tested in several areas including vocabulary, early readings, number knowledge and drawing.

In almost all tests, Pelletier found that the full-day kindergarten students were significantly ahead of the control group of half-day students.

Pelletier said she will follow the children until they are in Grade 3 and after seeing the success of the first year of research, but she recommends waiting to see the results after two years before getting too excited.

Full-day kindergarten was introduced in Ontario in 2010 and will continue to be rolled into all schools throughout the province until 2014, The Globe and Mail reported.

The Drummond Report recently recommended either cutting full-day kindergarten to save the annual $1.5 billion price tag, delaying the rollout of the program until 2017 or scaling back on staff to make the endeavour more affordable.

However, with the March 27 provincial budget release date looming, the Liberals rejected Drummond’s suggestion to cut the program, the CBC reported.

Pelletier said the research should speak for itself.

“The research is showing that it seems to be really great for children and families, and so therefore I would support maintaining it and not cutting back on early childhood services," she said.

"I think children are our future, they’re our best investment and it’s wise for governments to put their money there.”

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