Some comments on all-day learning
Earlier this week I shared my concern about teachers standing in the way of proposed all-day learning in Ontario elementary schools.
Today social justice reporter Laurie Monsebraaten has a positive update on the early learning front - Education Minister Kathleen Wynne says the province DOES support the idea of integrated education and childcare.
Some of the commenters had very interesting things to say, so I'm going to share those with you here:
"S. Morgan" made a very good point about having the physical space to accommodate childcare, particularly for kindergarten students:
Please be sure that you are representing the thoughts of actual individual teachers, not the unions that represent them. The opinions of individuals are not necessarily the same as the party line. The one huge concern over full day kindergarten, and the creation of education hubs is the space! Where will we put the children? In a school with 6 classes of half-day kindergarten children, you currently need 3 rooms. If they stay all day, you need 6! The government would have to invest millions to enlarge existing school buildings and the current daycare centres would be boarded up.
Certainly, bricks and mortar are huge factors here. While it seems fairly achievable that before- and after-school programs for grade-school students could be housed in current classrooms, gym facilities, cafeterias and play yards, it is potentially very tricky to figure out what to do with double the kindergartners.
However, the expectation is that it WILL take time to roll out the program at all schools where there is demand. It will take creativity and juggling and out-of-the box thinking. But it's also important to note that it likely won't be quite a doubling of kindergarten kids. Some will still have stay-at-home parents, grandparents or other caregivers that their families prefer to use.
When we look at how universal childcare supports families in countries elsewhere in the world, it's reasonable to expect that the program will become quite popular (in fact, we only need to look at Quebec's $7-a-day childcare to see that). Here's what "Secondina" had to say (clever alias, by the way):
I am a Canadian expat living abroad for over 14 years now. I live in Italy. I have two small children and no family living close by. We have a school system identical to the one proposed and I must say that it is by far the best situation one could hope for in my situation. My children are in Kindergarten (my 3 yr old) and in 1st grade. We take them to school in the morning at 8-8.15 and pick them up between 5-5.30. We pay a minimal cost of approx 400 Euros each per year for pre- and post-school programs and would be lost and financially inhibited without them. My children get hot lunches served from a school catering service and are cared for throughout the day, which allows me to work serenely and not worry about them being picked up by a baby sitter or neighbour and taken to daycare or sitting in front of someone's TV for hours!
I can relate to "Secondina" because I also have no family nearby to help with pick-ups and drop-offs, and there are many thousands of us in the same boat here in Toronto. "M. Lucic" concurred the proposed program would be a huge weight off:
What a great idea. Not only do the kids get early stimulus and education but the parents would get piece of mind knowing that their child is in a safe learning environment, and you don't have to worry about mid-day transportation to and from school and daycare. If this had been available when my kids were young I would have gladly paid a fee for such a program. Government will always find reasons to tax us at least this one would be worth the expense.
Predictably, there are always those who think programs like this are nanny-state interference. That children are some kind of extravagant lifestyle choice for which parents should shoulder all expenses. And that (snore) the only moral choice is for one parent to stay at home to look after the children. "Not amused" says:
Let's call it what it is: daycare, not education. It's an extra half day of play time so mom and dad don't have to spend a couple of years paying for daycare or spending time with preschoolers. But its also $500 million out of the pockets of the taxpayers, so there are other reasons to consider this kind of thing very carefully.
I could respond to this but I'd rather share the words of commenter "M. Alton:"
Note to "Not amused" I am on the board of a not-for-profit daycare, which is exceptional in its delivery of not only good, safe care, with playtime, but also education. Housed in a public school, almost all of the children graduate to grade 1 knowing addition, subtraction, and, if not reading, then the alphabet and how words fit together. I am always surprised at not only the under-estimation of children's abilities but the disdain that the public-school teachers in our school give our ECE educated staff. By properly instituting early education in caring environments we could give all kids a better start. We could relieve the most incredible stress on parents - knowing that our children are safe - while we work, which, please, most of us need to do. The 500 million out of the pockets of taxpayers is much better spent educating our children than the billions spent bailing out auto manufacturers.