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All day kindergarten

The school district we belong to has just implemented all day kindergarten. The all day program will begin in the fall of 2010. I was informed about this decision at a parent advisory committee meeting of the public school my eldest son attends. I was the only one in the room who was disturbed by the idea, in fact most everybody else seemed excited. I went home that evening and emailed the Early Childhood Development Coordinator from a Not-for-profit organization called Children First. The email I sent, and her reply follow. We’ve gotta start putting our kids first or the future of creativity will be lost.

Thank you for keeping us up to date on all the amazing projects Children First is involved with. I am extremely disappointed with SD#5’s recent decision to implement full day kindergarten in 2010/2011 with the program being mandatory by 2011/2012. I am very supportive of parent attended early learning programs, like the Strong Start Programs, and other local groups like Fernie M.O.M.S and Parent Tot Rhyme Time; both supported financially by Success By Six. At this point I am concerned that Early Childhood Development in the East Kootenay’s is focusing too much on kindergarten readiness. I believe that our local children should be supported developmentally by their parents. It seems to me that the focus is on programs designed to prepare children to be educated by teachers. I understand that this transition will inevitably happen, but why are we starting so early? As parents we are our children’s first teachers.
We need to lay the foundation for an enormous shift in this community. The shift being educating the parents. If we want “success by six and the children in our community to come first” than we need to promote attachment parenting. My impression of the system is that we provide ‘early learning centres’ like Strong Start, but we don’t highlight the importance of making our homes early learning centres. We provide ‘parent-tot play time’ but we don’t record who is taking these activities and using them at home on their own time. We teach parents that their children will be ‘more successful’ at school if they attend these wonderful programs, but we don’t inform them that the Ministry of Education provides a homeschooling curriculum if they choose to home school, or that a child does not have to attend a ‘formal educational institute‘ until the age of six. I am very disturbed by the fact that in September of 2011 there will be many four and a half year olds in school for six hours a day.
I don’t have any revolution inspiring ideas on the subject, but as a Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Pregnancy Outreach Worker I would like to see some of these ideas filter down into the programs that support woman early in their mothering journey. If Success By Six funded programs for couples planning pregnancy there would be an opportunity to educate future parents about the importance of being involved in their child’s early development, and that this involvement takes time and everybody knows that time is money. We could effectively inform our community to prepare financially to have time for our children before they’re even conceived. I am a strong believer in the idea that if you don’t know your options you don’t have any.

With respect,
Tanya Malcolm

Hi Tanya
Thank-you for your wonderful email. I certainly share your concern that a focus on school -based programs should not overshadow the Success by 6 and Children First programs that serve young children.

I would like to forward you email to our MLA, Bill Bennett and perhaps on to our Minister of Children and Family Development, Mary Polack. Also, I would like to share it with our provincial Success by 6 coordinator, Kim Adamson and of course, the Early Childhood Teams in our region would be very heartened to read your views. I’m sure that they share them.

Please let me know if I can do all of this sharing. And thank-you for taking the time to email me! It helps me to know that there is community support for the work done by the ECD teams, Success by 6 and Children First. It really helps to learn that your support is based on such a strong understanding of the importance of the early years in a child’s life.

Children First
East Kootenay Region