Early learning - about time!
I hope you've all had a chance to check out our coverage of the Pascal report findings released today.
The long-awaited report recommends, for starters, bringing childcare and education under the same ministry in the Ontario government. The priority in the vision outlined by the report authors is to provide full-day learning for 4- and 5-year-olds. Full-day kindergarten exists in some parts of the province and there are pilot projects sprinkled plenty of places. But the idea here is to make a new gold standard for early care, levelling the playing field so that all kindergartens will have access to quality, licensed childcare throughout the day.
It's been interesting to witness the dialogue happening in the comments on our main story. The level of contempt for working parents from some commenters is really remarkable, and I find this sort of polarizing debate a little 1982. Are we still worried about the erosion of the nuclear family so much we're getting our ginch in knots over subsidized childcare?
I said this earlier today on twitter, but I just don't believe this means anyone who wants to be home with their own children is going to have their four-year-old dragged out of the house for 10 hours a day. You know that thing, "The years before five last the rest of their lives?" — a phrase adopted about a decade ago as a result of advances in neuroscience that showed us exactly how young brains are wired? Well this is the Ontario government maybe starting to catch up to, and make our education system reflect that. It's about ensuring the child from a low-income family isn't stuck in some unlicensed, dismal basement daycare while his more affluent peers are ferried by at-home parents or nannies from one enriching activity to another.
I agree with the commenter who pointed out that the same people who react so negatively to any nanny-state notion are the first to cry foul and demand government interference when kids from poor circumstances get in trouble with the law.
As a mom with one child in the school system and another entering in 2011, I'm very hopeful and optimistic about this initiative. It could mean that there will be decent-priced childcare in place by the time Alister is in Junior Kindergarten, and that'll save me from hustling to figure out how to drop him off at 9 a.m. and get him picked up at 11:30 a.m. and still make a living. And maybe it means there will be some funds to expand the limited space in our school's current after-school program so that fewer parents are stuck choosing between the limited selection of so-so daycares that walk kids to and from school.
It's not about leaving our children to be raised by someone else. It's about taking a little page from the books of more forward-thinking nations (heck, even from our neighbouring province, Quebec!) and making life a little easier for families.
That's my soap box, and now I'm getting off it.