It's hard to believe that I first posted about this two years ago, when preparing to send our firstborn off to Kindergarten. Now our baby is registered for September, and I find myself asking the same questions again.
This time it's different though, because next fall our school begins the all-day, every day Kindergarten program. Frannie has spent alternating days at daycare with her aunt (and usually four other children, mostly family). Maggie, though, will be thrown right in to full-time Kindergarten, which at our school could look like two adults with up to 30-some students.
While I truly support the majority of our Ministry of Education's decisions (and not just because I'm on the payroll) I don't think the full-time Kindergarten was created for children who have the option of family daycare, which for Maggie next year could be a 1:3 or 1:2 ratio, where there is circle time, stories, crafts, and just as much "play" as any play-based learning program could provide. I think what I also love about our girls' daycare situation is that our provider puts emphasis (just the right amount, in my opinion) on early literacy and numeracy as well. Judging by the reading skills of her "clientele" (her children, my nephews and my daughter) whatever she's doing is working. (Not to give her all the credit; the kids attend our school, where the staff, may I say, is stellar as well!)
Frannie's kindergarten teacher has been wonderful, and by all accounts she will be the one delivering the new full-time program to Maggie next year, partnered with an Early Childhood Educator. I have no doubts at all that they will do a fantastic job implementing the new program. I'm just a bit sad that Maggie will miss the very small-group, home-based family care that Frannie has enjoyed on alternating days for the past two years.
And let's be honest: I'm also not looking forward to packing two lunches every single day!
When we went through this two years ago, I spoke to parents and a veteran kindergarten teacher and got tons of tips about preparing your child to start school. My post, Is Your Child Ready For Kindergarten? (Are You?) covers Play, Reading, Numeracy, Physical Skills and Self-Regulation, with suggestions and insider info. Check it out, even if just for the amazing quote from the kindergarten teacher that you can find at the end of the post.