Full-day kindergarten is failing our children - Macleans.ca

Full-day kindergarten is failing our children

A closer look at Ontario’s $1.5-billion-a-year full-day kindergarten experiment


Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

When German educator Friedrich Fröebel opened the world’s first kindergartens in the mid-1800s, he frequently found himself at odds with suspicious government officials. Prussia, for example, banned his schools in 1851, characterizing them as hotbeds of socialist subversion and radicalism.

How things have changed. Today, most governments want more kindergarten, not less. Even the traditional half-day programs aren’t enough. Five-year-olds in British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island all attend full-day kindergarten. Ontario is currently in the fourth year of a five-year rollout for full-day junior and senior kindergarten, meaning kids as young as three attend school all day, five days a week. In those provinces without full-day programs, demands are heard regularly.

Yet despite the popularity of full-day kindergarten, particularly among working parents and teachers’ unions, the actual benefit it provides to the children themselves is still hotly debated.

This September, on the first day of the school year, the Ontario government claimed conclusive evidence of full-day kindergarten’s advantages was finally at hand, thanks to a pair of academic studies it commissioned. “In every area, students improved their readiness for Grade 1 and accelerated their development,” a provincial news release declared. Education Minister Liz Sandals called the results, which tracked students in both half- and full-day kindergarten over two years, “nothing short of incredible.”

This news was immediately hailed by supporters of the concept. Charles Pascal, the driving force behind Ontario’s full-day program, said “it shows the program is truly a life-changer.” In a front-page story, the Globe and Mail dubbed it a “landmark study.”

And yet there was no study to read, landmark or otherwise. The hype and excitement came from a few bullet points selectively released by the province. The actual reports were nowhere to be seen. The reason for this reticence is now apparent.

With the complete reports finally available online, it appears that Ontario’s $1.5-billion-a-year full-day kindergarten experiment is a grave disappointment, from both pedagogical and financial perspectives.

The provincial studies did find that children attending schools marked by low income and/or poor test scores showed improvement in some categories after participating in full-day kindergarten. This corresponds with previous research, particularly by Nobel laureate economist James Heckman, which suggested that early intervention can improve school readiness for disadvantaged children. For everyone else, however, the Ontario results ranged from negligible to abysmal.

Not only did most children not receive a distinct advantage from spending all week at school, the results for many were lower than if they’d stayed in the old half-day system.

“To be clear, some children appear to have done worse with [full-day early learning kindergarten],” the report states. The biggest failings were in the categories of emotional maturity, communication skills and general knowledge. This aligns with complaints that full-day programs impede the social and emotional development of some children by removing them from familial care too early.

Special-needs kids did particularly poorly. “The children with special educational needs showed superior outcomes on the measures of social competence and emotional maturity in non-[full-day early learning kindergarten] programs,” the researchers found, calling for more investigation into this troubling result. It’s a far cry from declaring the whole thing “life-changing” or “nothing short of incredible.”

It is worth noting that even those gains identified for some kids are likely to be temporary, a phenomenon that’s been identified in numerous other studies. McMaster University economist Philip DeCicca told Maclean’s earlier this year that any positive academic effects arising from full-day kindergarten are largely gone by the end of Grade 1. (See “The munchkin invasion,” National, May 27.) Similarly, a study published last year on California’s school system found that, after three years, “there were no significant differences in students who attended the all-day kindergarten program and students who attended a traditional kindergarten program.”

Full-day kindergarten does nothing to permanently improve academic performance. It may stunt the emotional and social development of many kids. And it does no favours to those with special needs. While children from poor or disadvantaged families may derive short-term benefits from extra attention in kindergarten, it defies common sense and financial reality to provide this to all families on a universal basis. The tax system or local authorities are much better suited to targeting children at risk, and at far less cost.

All the above suggests taxpayers in provinces that have so far managed to avoid the full-day-kindergarten craze ought to consider themselves quite lucky. Earlier this year, for example, Alberta announced it was putting its plans for province-wide full-day kindergarten on hold due to budgetary constraints. Wise move.



Full-day kindergarten is failing our children

  1. I am a seasoned Early Childhood Educator that is currently working in a Strong Start program within the school district I live in in BC. I can tell you that from what I can see, BC is doing a lot of things right and this needs to be known.
    1. Strong Start-Publicly funded early learning centers for children 0-5 years of age with a parent/caregiver. These centers offer families an amazing opportunity to connect with each other, to observe and learn child development and the value of play, to learn ways to support their child’s development, to help children gain comfort in a school environment….the list goes on. I see the benefit year by year for the children who attend my Strong Start and then move into kindergarten at that school. The only thing I think could make this better is to put one in every school. The kindergarten teachers I work with know the children who have attended my program and see the benefits.
    2. Full day kindergarten-There ARE benefits of the full day program. Kindergarten is play based and allows children many opportunities to learn, build friendships, adjust to routines while their teachers sneak in bits of learning throughout the day. One of the K teachers I work with that has been teaching kindergarten for many years told me she sees the benefits. The children adapt to the schedule much quicker and this allows her to move from teaching about routines and schedules to curriculum much quicker than she could when they were coming 5 half days or 2.5 full. Yes the children are tired, but for those that are struggling the option to go home at lunch is still there. Schools are willing to work with families to do what is in the best interest of the child. I have seen children do half days for the first few months and work into full days by the end of the year. The goal is always to give the child the best start.

    Things I would change:
    1. Kindergarten teachers should be kindergarten teachers. In a system led by unions teachers used to teaching high school science can end up teaching kindergarten if they get bumped from the job they know (and love) and available options lead them to teaching kindergarten. These teachers rarely have the systems in place to lead this group of 22 five year olds into their educational career. These scenarios often leave everyone floundering for at least the first few months and lead to less than ideal learning environments. Fortunately where I work the teachers have been teaching kindergarten for many years and have the amazing systems in place and I see the benefits of seasoned K teachers.
    2. Grade one should gradually move from play based learning to a more academic/at your desk type learning. Its a bit of a shock to go from play based learning system of Kindergarten learning to Grade one. I frequently hear children complain about Grade one…I say let the children play!!

    • your punctuation requires attention.

    • Agreed. Also, Use “who is” not “that is”… I could mention others.

      • You guys can’t be serious. I am more concerned about your inability to address the issue being discussed rather than nit-pick someone’s grammar. Quite immature.

        • thanks(:

        • We have become a society of no accountability and professional nit pickers. If your good in English, some resort to slamming good posts not on rationality, but on personal viewpoints.

          • ‘You’re’. If you’re good in English…
            Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

          • You’re the teacher?

            We are dismissing the importance of spelling, and grammar, in…… our teachers?

            That can’t be good.

    • punctuation and grammar have never been my strong suits. My ability to positively influence the families I work with are my focus. Thanks for your concern..

      • If your basic spelling and grammar skills are lacking, you should not be a teacher. Radiating positivity is just not enough, it’s a huge problem.

        • First of all Ann clearly stated that she is an E.C.E. Not a teacher so perhaps your reading comprehension skills are a little lacking. Beyond that spelling and grammar are amongst the least important educational outcomes and anyone who would hold such things up as the measure of a good teacher and a successful education system has little understanding of modern pedagogical approaches and their values. Almost to the point of removing them from having valid input into the discussion.
          Frankly anyone with only very basic literacy skills could successfully teach spelling and grammar to the vast majority of children if that were the primary focus of the program but that is precisely how to churn out mindless drones who meet with a basic level of productivity but have no tools with which to be responsible, informed citizens who are capable of challenging the systems in place.

          • How sad that “spelling and grammar are amongst the least important educational values.” I had no idea we valued the ability to communicate so little. However, it does explain why my college students are incapable of writing a paper that is readable, persuasive, and not plagiarised.

            You cannot seriously believe that “someone with only very basic literacy skills” could teach spelling and grammar or that learning to punctuate a sentence will turn a child into a mindless drone. You seem concerned with students being “informed citizens who are capable of challending the systems in place.” I promise you, your students will not be capable of this if they do not achieve a high degree of literacy.

            Your post is a case in point. Missing commas and fragment sentences create confusion in meaning and weaken the overall impression of your writing. If you want to be more persuasive, perhaps you should take more care with your writing.

          • I fully understand “modern pedagogical approaches” because I can see the modern (read: awful) results — “Graduates” who ignoramuses who have no idea how to write, speak, or think.

    • In a system led by unions no union would ever allow a union member who is a high school teacher to be forced into such a ridiculous situation. The whole concept is absurd. Luckily, even though the system is not led by unions, we have standards which prevent this kind of thing from happening since high school teachers are not qualified to teach children below grade 7. In fact, even if there were a teacher who had the qualifications to teach at both levels they are in an entirely different union with an entirely different job description, rate of pay, and contract, and as such are protected from being forced into working in an elementary school. Such a teacher would have to be both qualified and request the opportunity to take on the new role and would have to still make it through human resources and the school principal’s approval before they were given such a position. All of these things could possibly happen but it is an almost unheard of set of circumstances and is really not relevant to the discussion.

  2. Ah yes, anything to cut taxes. Education is now more harmful than ignorance.

    Like war is peace, freedom is slavery….etc.

    • Melodramatic! I for one do not appreciate full time preschool and kindergarten. I am fully able to teach my kids the alphabet and counting, politeness…etc I am not against education but for familial bonding and emotional well being.

      • Well it’s not mandatory…..

        • EXACTLY! It’s a parental choice to send children to institutionalized care. Along with that choice comes the responsibility to pay for it & not hoist it onto others.

          • Oh do stop with this crap. What is it with Cons anyway?? Born to be cheap??

            Education is mandatory in this country….for the good of the children and society and the future. And everybody chips in. Same as everybody chips in for healthcare…..and highways, and transportation, and a military and a judicial system….and a lot of other things.

            If you don’t want to send your kids to public school then homeschool….but you’ll have to keep up to standards and you’ll have to pay taxes.

          • I already do :) I pay taxes & my children derive no benefit.

          • Sure they do. They get free medical care, roads, schools, buses….and we’re at peace…in a democracy.

          • I think I was pretty clear that it’s schools & buses that they don’t benefit from. There is no tax credit for homeschooling, even for the books & curricula that we purchase. I left my career & cushy paycheque (Research Associate at a University Medical School) to homeschool my kids for 10 years so far. If I were cheap, as you suggest, I would have kept that cushy job & put my children in daycare – I would have come out ahead of where I am now. My kids are my responsibility & I take that very seriously. Let’s just get over the pretence of calling it ECE & honestly call it what it is – subsidized day care.

          • Well your taxes help pay for us having a provincial school system at all….if you don’t use buses that’s your choice. I don’t understand your hostility….it’s your choice to homeschool.

            Early Childhood Education is not day care.

          • I don’t know why you think that one must be hostile if one disagrees with your opinion. There’s no hostility here – maybe I was mistaken, I thought this was a discussion. Of course I help pay for the provincial school system – I would whether or not I have children, period. There is a societal benefit to educating our children. What you’re interpreting as hostility is fiscal responsibility to evidence showing the wash-out of effects of FDK by the time kids finish grade 1. By all means, spend the money where it is needed & where there’s been proven long-term benefit: disadvantaged, marginalized, special-needs, etc. If I were as cheap as you’ve accused me of being, I’d be looking for someone else to fully-subsidize my day care too!

          • It’s not my ‘opinion’….it’s the way the educational system works.

            Whatever kids learn before grade one is all to the good….I very much doubt they’re forgetting colours and counting….if they are, we’d better raise our teaching standards!

            FDK isn’t the same as day care…..we already HAVE subsidized day care.

          • I agree, Emily. I also find it quite funny when adults think they don’t benefit from “our” children being educated. Think long term, people! We all receive benefit from children being educated.

          • I don’t know what it is, but they don’t seem to consider society as a whole, or the future or anything else.

        • But your taxes that support it are!!!!

      • It is not mandatory to send children to preschool, I believe; therefore, one is still able to teach ones children at home if desired and willing…

        • I don’t know of full-time pre-school (in BC anyway). My boys attend a parent-participation pre-school, 2 hrs per day, 3 days per week.

          Pre-schools are typically play-based (I think) as the children are so young, so they do not learn counting or the alphabet. The focus is quite clearly on socializing with peers, sharing, and being considerate and respectful of others.

          Unless you have a gaggle of children at your house this is an extremely difficult bit to pass onto your kids prior to kindergarten. You can of course teach them to be considerate of their brothers/sisters and parents, but it’s not the same as teaching them to do so with their peers.

          Lastly, your comments fails to consider the financial aspect. Many people need to work while their children are at school, so they do not necessarily have the option just because they desire and are willing to stay home and teach their kids.

      • Clearly you have no clue what kids are learning in Kindergarten these days. They all know the alphabet and how to count LONG before they get to even JK. As an adult who spends my day in a Kindergarten classroom, I can assure you that emotional well being is a large part of the curriculum.

      • Good for you. The reality is there are far more working mothers than those able to be at home and that doesn’t imply they don’t try to foster familial bonding and emotional well being. I have experienced single working Moms who are better at parenting than some stay at home Moms, both professionally and personally.
        A blanket statement that is judgemental in a number of ways.

      • You have every right to opt out of all day kindergarten and educate your children at home as kindergarten is not mandatory.

        For the many parents who do support kindergarten, even if only because the cost beats that of daycare, I think it’s good they have the option available.

    • Why is ignorance the only viable alternative to FDK in your eyes? See the post below about how fewer kids are now taking music lessons.

      • a) Because most kids don’t get any education at home b) because what little they do get isn’t much use for our era anyway c) because kids need to be taught from very early ages….since they learn from day one d) toddlers are using iPads.

        • then how about attacking the real problem – parental accountability

          • a) Never pass laws you can’t enforce. b) what about parents who have little education themselves? c) stay out of people’s personal lives.

            Kindergarten isn’t mandatory you know….in either half or full days.

            One year later the child would still be attending school full time, plus taking piano lessons.

      • They may be learning “free thought” at home, which is actively discouraged. Big Mama Gubmint knows best.

        • It’s a good thing then that a full day kindergarten program centred around play based learning, or more accurately learning through inquiry, in which free thought is discouraged in any way, actively or not, is a very rare thing indeed.

          • I think you need to read up on Inquiry based learning. It is based on the individual child, following their own unique interests and free thought. Their inquiry could include research, written materials, photographs, drawings, research etc. It is completely child led and adult facilitated. This is the child leading the learning based on their personal interests and free thoughts. The teacher then documents and assesses based on the child’s learning of the inquiry and then correlates the learning to the curriculum strands. In the past the teacher spews out all required information and then the child is tested on the information. If the child isn’t interested, their likeliness to do well in that given subject decrease. In inquiry based learning the child picks their interest and it is the educator’s job to figure out how to nurture growth cross curricular. At any given time their can be many different inquiries going on in one classroom. Naturally some children are drawn into other children’s inquiries. Inquiries that the children can come up with are limitless. We have inquiries on Science topics such as the solar system, spiders, tornadoes, weather, volcanoes, fashion and clothes design, cooking, plant growth, lifecycles, music and instruments, Geography and mapping where certain animals live on the earth. This is 3,4 and five year olds leading their individual learning and learning far more than past Kindergarten programs.
            The children plan out experiments, posters, presentations, all kinds of projects. These can be in groups and promote early social skills, co-operation, problem solving. Children are printing words and reading because they want to, not because I’m forcing them to but because they want to label a diagram or find out about the habitat of a certain animal.
            Hopefully, I have dispelled and clarified some of your ideas about inquiry and play based learning.

          • @Carmen – I’m assuming you either misunderstood my comment or had intended your reply to be to RealLayer rather than me.
            I understand very well what Inquiry based learning looks like in the classroom as I live it every day. Hence response to RealLayer in which I state that free thought is not discouraged in any way in an inquiry based classroom. Maybe a few too many commas…

    • The #1 driver in education is conformance for nice future compliant tax slaves.

      How many kids come home and say unions are not all good and bigger government is not always good? Is Louis Riel a freedom fighter or traitor? I didn’t learn Sir John A was a perpetual drunk until I graduated G12. You bet school is about indoctrination.

      • dave….we have had taxes for thousands of years….we will continue to have taxes….if you don’t want to pay taxes, move to Somalia.

        As for indoctrination….it’s actually called knowledge. If it runs up against your beliefs…..you don’t like it….but it’s true all the same

        Unions were necessary and good when they started out….as the industrial age winds down, so will unions. In the meantime they protect working people. Doctors and lawyers and so on have the same things you know….they just don’t call ’em unions.

        Sir John A was not a perpetual drunk….he had a tragic personal life and took to drink to help. You may not approve but that doesn’t change his life, or make him an evil man. Christopher Columbus didn’t discover America either….but teachers didn’t know that at the time.

  3. The article does not mention this, but one reason FDK may be less effective than hoped, and *especially* so for special needs children, is that the class sizes are so large. Half day K in Ontario was capped at 20 children per class and often had 1 or 2 fewer. There is no cap on FDK, and our class sizes range from 32-37. These are the same *rooms* as before but not there is not enough space for nearly twice as many children to move about in active, learning-focused play (and certainly no room for lots of tables and chairs AND stations such as block centre, water table, etc.) It feels crowded and is., This reduces the amount of small group activities and individual teacher-child interactions. With full inclusion many classes have up to 3 or 4 children with autism, developmental disability or other challenges who urgently need a great deal of individual supervision and supportive teaching and assistance. It makes for a very challenging environment, though the K teachers I know like it very much but do worry about the large numbers.

    I think the money would be best spent on providing FDK at the old class size rate to low-income and special needs children. Early intervention is very important in these populations.

    • The ratio is also absurd. FDK has 1 teacher + 1 ECE for those 30+ kids. While the teacher gets prep coverage (i.e. has a backup when out of the room), the ECE has “breaks” instead of “prep”, and has no coverage for breaks. So for good chunks of the day, there is 1 adult supervising 30 kids ages 3-6 (almost all classes are a mix of JK and SK). No one is learning anything in that environment. and frankly, it is not safe for any buth the best behaved kid.

      • I am an ECE in a Kindergarten. In my classroom, there is one ECE until 11:30 when the other ECE joins the class. The first one leaves at 2:30 so there is a 3 hour overlap with two ECE, plus the teacher in the class. I don’t take my lunch or afternoon break until after my fellow ECE arrives so there is not one adult alone with the children, expect during my morning break which I often skip. I can attest that the children in the four Kindergarten classes in my school, that all have a mixture of JK/SK, are all learning a ton!

      • While I agree that the ratio doesn’t work adding more adult supervision to the room will not solve most of the problems. At best just make it more manageable. Otherwise I think you are somewhat misinformed or have the misfortune of a poorly designed schedule. First of all E.C.E.s do not have breaks instead of prep. The two things are separate. E.C.E.s should have a fairly standard break schedule which is comparable with the teachers. The E.C.E. however is not responsible for program planning, assessment, evaluation, parent communication, Individual Education Plans for children with special needs, etc., all of which a teacher is responsible for and more and theoretically needs to accomplish in 240 minutes of perpetration time per week. Prep time is certainly not a break and E.C.E.s should not be working during their breaks.
        Unless you’re dealing with a very small school with only 2 or less kindergarten classes, which is fairly rare in the full day model, then there should be very little if any time in which there is only 1 adult in the room. Especially if your school has the extended day program in which case there will be overlapping split shifts. Of course there are a few very small schools where there simply isn’t enough staff to make it work.
        Also, I’m not sure why you are asserting that almost all kindergarten classes are JK/SK splits. That again is only true in very small schools for the most part. Most schools will only have one split which is invariably an English SK/JK split. All French immersion SKs are straight SK without exception, and most JKs are also not in split classes.

        • I really think it depends on where you are from. Our classroom situation looks nothing like where you are from. E.C.E’s in Ontario do half 50/50 including lesson plans. Only the report cards are done specifically by the teachers and in consultation with the E.C.E There is never one adult in the room. All FDK classrooms are splits where I am from and the cap is 30. Children with needs have supports so their are additional staff. There are also differences in how the program looks dependant on the board whether public or separate.

          • I am a teacher in a FDJK in one of the largest public boards in Ontario serving a large and mostley urban population and I assure you that E.C.E.s are neither expected nor required to do lesson plans, assessment, evaluation, parent communication, etc. In fact there is really no clear description what the E.C.E.s role is in the classroom. Now that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing any of those things but thed deliniation of roles and responsabilities is up to the team to determine and E.C.E.s certainly can not be compelled to perform those taskes. We also certainly have classes over 30 and there are times in the day when there is only 1 adult in the room. supports for JKs are diffucult to get and the process lies soley with the teacher.

            You say that all of your FDK classrooms are splits. I’m very curious how that works with SKs in French immersion and JKs in the regular program.

          • I would love to be able to answer that but I am at an English speaking school. I am going to check as I am curious now too. I’ll get back to you on that. Of the English speaking classes that have gone to FDLK (complete transitions of all schools in 2015) all are splits. It is the expectation here of the E.C.E to do 50% as stated in our job description. I just finished administering PALS. I think you can appreciate how much work I take home having no preps. We have three children with identified needs and a full time CYW in our room. I guess we are lucky! Inquiry really aids in teaching to all the different stages of learning in our room. Also, small group instruction during free play. We utilize the smartboard, ipads and apple TV, wherever we can. It is very interesting to me to hear how other classrooms and Boards work and function.

          • A cap on class sizes, a full time CYW, smartboard, iPads, and Apple TV? I don’t think we’re working in different boards, more like different planets!

        • Yes, ECEs are in fact expected to carry out all of the things mentioned here that teachers do. It’s suppose to be 50/50. Yet only teachers have a prep.

    • I work in a Kindergarten. I don’t know what Board you are under but there is a cap on class sizes in my area. At the school I am at, it’s 30. The class I work in has 28 because we have 4 Kindergarten classrooms in our little school. My classroom has all those stations. The block station is very large. There is a water station and a sand station as well as house, dramatic play area, books, and several table activity areas. There are lots of tables in my classroom, to the point we do not need more. So, I guess it depends on each individual classroom or school.

      • Do you not feel that 30 in a room is far too many regardless of the material resources you are lucky enough to enjoy?

  4. I taught full day kindergarten. It was tiring for everyone! Too young and too much stimulation. I say no. Nurture in small group day cares or at home. Allow them to be free to explore most of the day!. Half day is even too much for some! I’m sad to see full day kindergarten.

    • Some children will have trouble in any environment. In fact, some people will have trouble in any environment. if full day kindergarten is so awful because it is full day, why don’t more grade 1s fall apart when they start just a few months older?

      • Good point.

      • No guarantee but it seems like a fair bet the few month older kids would often have the same experience. It could be worth looking into that.

    • Everyone is SO correct here. I teach FDK this year. It sounds good in theory, but this is how it is in reality: Class size 28 (small compared to some), 1 child with autism, 4 children with behavioural issues (one quite severe), and a lot of needy JK’s (some 3 years old) who require attention and ‘mothering’ – but rarely get what they need due to the other issues in the classroom. Really feels like daycare. Little or no support from admin. I’m one of the lucky ones, because I actually work well with my ECE (which is not always the case). It’s disheartening, a real shame. There was nothing ‘wrong’ with the traditional Kindergarten program and the smaller class size.

      • I teach FDK in Ontario and I LOVE the program. I teach in a very large room that contains four classes of 25-30 kids. We teach circles on our own carpets, but play and inquiry takes place throughout the whole room with all kids able to interact wherever they wish. We are very lucky to have a team of four teachers and four ECEs who get along very well. We have one DSW for three children with special needs. Our ECEs are not expected to do 50% of the work, but are always willing to help however they can. They Do plan their own small group avtivities and a closing circle at the end of the day. I work in a very low income area and we see many benefits for our children. We have also seen a lot of growth in our children with special needs. I fully support full day kindergarten as a parent and a teacher.

    • In my Kindergarten, they are free to explore most of the day, hence play based. I do agree that the class size is too large and that much of the day is spent on behaviour management issues with a number of children, leaving the others without nearly enough attention.

  5. Exactly what goals/differences would be reasonably expected between a half day or full day program?
    Does someone think that they can avoid emotional or social development problems by forcing children to remain at home with a perhaps disinterested parent or in the care of a baby-sitter whose idea of keeping the kids occupied is parking them in front of a TV?

  6. Our recipe has worked well: Give your kids your full attention, talk about what they learn in school, ask about their friends and teachers, tell them stories when you were a kid (the good ones), and let them have unstructured and structured fun on the weekends. Works wonders with really young ones having trouble adapting to long days. Parents need to do their part, even when times are hectic.

  7. … banned his schools in 1851, characterizing them as hotbeds of socialist subversion and radicalism.

    And nothing much has changed in the public school system since 1851.

  8. The entire point of gov’t sponsored daycare is to get the children away from the parents. Here’s the recipe.

    Raise taxes.
    One working parent can’t make ends meet.

    Both parents must work to pay higher taxes.
    Which allows the gov’t to raise taxes again saying they are for daycare.
    Children are now at the mercy of gov’t indoctrination away from their parents.
    Fundamentally transform freedom to socialism.

    Read up on why Sweden did exactly this. The minister of education (later the prime minister) was all for removing children from the home so the parents had next to no input into their upbringing.

    • Nice alternative history. The nuclear family *is* the problem. For the vast majority of human history, children were raised primarily by their extended family. The nuclear family was only briefly viable, due to the material advances in the early postwar era.

      The extra taxes needed to pay for daycare programs would hardly break the bank of ordinary people – especially since income taxes are progressive and largely fall on the rich. Lets take a crazily high estimate of the cost of daycare per child – $10,000 (equal to some of the highest costs in US states). There are about 800,000 kids of kindergarten age. So we are talking about $8 billion.

      In 2012 the Federal government took in $255 billion (this is a provincial responsibility, but thinking federal is useful as a thought experiment). You would need only a 3% increase in revenues to cover the cost of daycare for all. By way of comparison revenue grew 8.5% between 2011 and 2012, without tax increases. Even if you did raise taxes, the necessary increase would be tiny.

      That said, I *DO* have a beef with these universal childcare ambitions. I think governments are likely to treat them as holding facilities for kids because their primary aim is getting mothers into the workforce. That may generate increased revenues in the short-term, but low quality childcare (and there is evidence of adverse effects from Quebec’s grand experiment) could be disastrous.

      Our primary goal needs to be education, not childcare. If more parents can work in jobs that fulfill them, that’s gravy. Research by economists shows that early childhood education is dollar-for-dollar the returns on investment for early childhood education trump any other program.

  9. This is subsidized daycare, the kids are taught little at all, spending most of their time playing, interacting and just having fun, not that there arent good lessons to be learned from that. Its also much easier for working parents to schedule around a full day of school then just a few hours.

    My son is 4 and in his first year of FDK and he loves it, he has a much broader diversity of kids in his class then at a small daycare and has access to more activites and the library for borrowing books to bring home, shame they only let him take home one a week though.

    • I work in a Kindergarten. I can assure you, while “playing, interacting and just having fun” the children are learning in all domains. They are developing so many skills in the social, emotional, communication/language/literacy, physical, and cognitive arenas. A decent teacher knows how to scaffold play so the children learn so much while “just playing”.

  10. FDK may have having another unintended side-effect. I am a professional piano/music teacher. I think we can all agree that research has firmly proven the long-term benefits of music on the scholastic achievement of children, youth, & teens.

    I specialize in teaching young children in a group class specifically developed for their age. With the advent of FDK in my area, I’ve noticed a decline in the number of children beginning music studies, and of those who do commence music study, they are more tired & have little time for piano practicing. I actually had a kindergartener tell me last month that they had no time to practice — “I’m in kindergarten, you know!” (and her mom withdrew her a week later). Another student quit last week because the kindergartener stays in after-school care until 5:45 and comes directly to his lesson for 6pm.

    I’m seeing a pervasive problem of kindergartners (and primary students) only being able to practice piano on weekends; piano progress grinds to a halt in children who *can’t* practice during the week and they quit, never reaching their musical potential, or realizing the academic benefits associated with long-term musical studies.

    Of course my opinion is a bit biased, but the possible short-term benefits of FDK don’t stack up beside the scientifically-proven long-term benefits of sustained musical instruction beginning in early-childhood.

    • As a long-time musician, I taught both of my kids. Both play guitar, one also plays drums & bass, and one plays flute & viola as well. I know music training makes other connections in the brain, but I just wanted them to be able to do something if the power goes out. The fact that they both took guitar & vocal music in high school was a bonus; they had the foundations going in.

  11. Can someone explain how so many people managed to get through their lives without pre K, all day pre K , or kinder garden. Many generations got by without it, all this exercise is, is expensive day care, paid for by the tax payer. I don’t think the generations who didn’t have this turned out to be socially inept , or educationally challenged, colleges and universities were around long before all this pre K BS.

  12. Canada has some of the most expensive G1-12 education systems in the world yet is no where close to the top in performance. We kid ourselves about the school system, as not politically correct as to say it as it is. The reality is it is a glorified child care facility for working parents. I say this as the smartest students I know are home schooled and private schooled with uniforms.

    School system is riddled with politics. Can’t offend students, teachers or parents it is crippled. Want pay for performance? Just watch unions go political. Take teachers forced to pass kids that do not show up, do not hand in assignments and fail tests.

    System too teaches conformance as conforming kids are easier to manage and disagree little to authority. But this is done by sacrificing critical and logical thinking. Sacrifices on basic math so the kids pass.

    And disable children get left out as for them, life isn’t conforming. Its about creative adaptation and reality. So no surprise a rift exists here.

    Schools are into too much train conformance, not thinking. Every kid needs to be the same, like a Ritz cracker. That mentality needs to leave the system to make progress.

    • Actually Canadian students perform quite well on international tests. In the 2009 PSA we were 10th in math, 8th in science and 6th in reading (and China was effectively double-counted because Hong Kong and Shanghai were treated separately) out of 74 countries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment

      I agree that money isn’t a magic elixir. The US spends more per capita than Canada, yet gets much worse results (e.g. 31st in math). The problem is that the US spends unwisely, skimping on teacher pay. As a result they don’t attract good teachers and, unsurprisingly, students aren’t well-taught. In Singapore, Finland and South Korea teaching programs are highly selective, and the results are quite positive.

  13. My concern is with the picking of what words to use by the government in order to prop up their agenda, but better late than never, with the full report out we can see the true benefits or lack there of.
    Let’s work together for the bennifit of all families not for the needs of the few.

  14. I have read the three studies. The article gets much of it right – but the outcomes are even worse than noted. This is because:

    1 – the findings were biased in favour of FDK because of unmatched groups of children: significantly more children in 2yr half day K were non-English native speakers (eg 52% vs 74%) or in French Immersion (eg 15.4% vs 1.5%) – this would skew outcomes related to communication, behaviour, knowledge, and language.

    2 – junk science: the only empirical data for all three studies comes from the Early Development Instrument (EDI). The EDI is a long questionnaire filled in by K teachers who are asked to rate children as “average” or not on many items. The EDI has been critiqued as subjective, biased and even racist. It is not an objective reliable indicator of children’s development in any ‘domain’. The purpose of the EDI is to drive policy change, which is explained in an EDI manual called “A Toolkit for Change” published by UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership.

    3 – Both university studies note that the requirement for written parental consent biases the findings in favour of full-day K because this requirement results in is less participation from disadvantaged groups. Only 51% of the 16,736 eligible students returned consent forms at all and only 690 students were included in the Ministry report.

    4- The McMaster study notes that the fact that K teachers – who have a vested interest – are the only ones providing the data may create bias favouring the program.

    5 – The Queens study also notes that the EDI is inadequate and asks for additional measurements to be used.

  15. Our educational system needs an overhaul. Read about the Finland’s system and see where ours fails so badly http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html?c=y&page=1. Class sizes are too large; there is not enough time for teachers to pay individual attention to children who need it. Teachers are under constant stress to change whatever their methods are to match new and unproven theories, no matter what would suit the kids they teach. Policy changes are handed down without any concern to curriculum or appropriateness. Curriculum changes are made that make no sense and have no relevance to what will be taught next year. Emphasis is on ‘report cards’ and assessments that take hours and hours of time that could otherwise be spent interacting with and teaching the children.
    Full day kindergarten is simply warehousing children in large groups so their parents can work full-time, and everyone can go home exhausted.

  16. Also. Do we mention all the childcare facilities who in general provide a program that follow the pattern of early development. If some children are not “ready” for Kindergarten, maybe we should not expect so much. Some children are ready sooner, and some are no ready for school before 7. It is age old. Early Childhood focus on Development and school on learning. If a child is not ready yet, but have had the same environment, maybe it takes them longer.Change the lenses by which we view children.

  17. A bit early to bury the patient, me thinks. So far the biggest known waste of money is the report that commissioned to do that premature evaluation of the program. Hiring educators to evaluate education systems is a lot like incest – these are children, early education is about longer term benefits – hardly ready to condemn the program after less and three years. This kind of reporting is irresponsible and dysfunctional.

  18. “The biggest failings were in the categories of emotional maturity, communication skills and general knowledge. This aligns with complaints that full-day programs impede the social and emotional development of some children by removing them from familial care too early.” – Hmm …with two parents working, I can’t see that many kids are under familial care during the day time.

  19. I find it interesting that people with ECE degrees find themselves fully qualified to discuss the findings of a research study done on kids in entirely different regions from where they hold their degrees and practice in their field.

    Scientific research is more than just observing what happens in the small limited range of kids you have access to as an ECE. There is a need for control groups with which to compare findings in test groups. There are controls within test groups, as well, to ensure that findings are not the result of some fluke variable.

    A lot of care and time goes into this kind of research and the reports are not to be taken lightly.

    This article also did not state that there were zero benefits to full-day kindergarten. Rather, the few benefits for a certain group of students did not last past Grade 1. That’s a big difference from what the province of Ontario originally indicated were the results of the report.

    It’s worth noting that education is not something that should be approached with blanket policies. As this report and others have shown, different strategies are needed for different groups of students.

  20. I am in my tenth year as a kindergarten teacher working and my third year in the full day kindergarten program here in Ontario. Full day kindergarten can work. In order to realize the benefits that the full day program is intended to bring there are several things that need to change. That being said these changes would cost money and raise that astronomical cost even more although it may be mitigated somewhat by returning most Junior kindergarten (JK) aged children (3-4) year olds to a half day model. Please understand that while I do believe that this can work and has the potential to greatly benefit our children and ultimately our society as a whole I recognize full day kindergarten is not the solution to all of our educational and social problems and it comes with a very large price tag, one that will likely be even larger if we do it properly, and we need to come together to decide if this type of approach is worth the cost which is a very real and important consideration that must be given serious attention.

    Full day JK programs targeting high needs communities only. Half day programs for the rest. I strongly believe that my students benefit from the full day JK program however I recognize that this is not true for all children. Most children are served very well in the half day JK program. Full day senior kindergarten (SK) in all communities. I strongly believe that the vast majority of children are ready for the full day program and will benefit from it greatly if class sizes are kept down.
    Maintain the current team approach with a teacher and an Early Childhood Educator (E.C.E.) in each classroom, including half day JK programs, but bring class sizes back down to 20. The maximum class size of approximately 20 is key. Oversized class sizes is the biggest problem presently facing the full day program. No matter how many adults you add to a room of 30+ children you can not counteract the social implications of a group that large! Especially if you consider the additional pressures of having that number of bodies in a limited physical space. The noise volume alone is almost impossible to control, especially since there will be a number of students with a wide variety of needs some of which make it very difficult for them to control their volume and some of which mean they are particularly sensitive to noise and physical proximity and touch.
    Continue the training and support for teachers as they transition from math and language focused educational approaches to play based approaches while honouring the value of their present approaches and adjusting the present totally play based approach to one that moves towards the math and language focused approaches being used by grade 1 teachers as the children progress and develop in the two year program. I envision a scenario where in May in a typical SK classroom they. Will be at an approximately even split between the two approaches although as always every group will develop and progress differently so there will be some diversity in this area.
    Train grade 1 teachers and support them as they integrate elements of a play based approach so that they can continue where the senior kindergarten teacher left off. Ideally not taking them from a completely play based experience and thrusting them into a ‘traditional’ grade 1 classroom. The SK teachers and grade 1 teachers meeting half way and supporting children as they continue to grow and develop and adjust to the grades 1-3 program.
    The extended day program is not intrinsic to the full day program however if it is to be maintained there needs to be a higher E.C.E. to child ratio and a control on maximum class sizes. Something like an 8-1 ratio with maximum class sizes of about 24. At present in my school there is a extended kinder program with 33+ kindergarten students with 1 E.C.E. and one E.L.A. which I believe stands for Early Learning Assistant although I’m not sure of that. Essentially E.L.A.s are assistants to E.C.E.s and have no educational requirements that I’m aware of. One E.L.A.s at my school is currently completing her high. School degree as a mature student. Of course education is not always the thing and in this case the E.L.A. I’m speaking of is the best we have and I would rather be on a team with her than at least one of the E.C.E.s at our school however she has about 6 months experience and the E.C.E. she’s teamed with has less than 2 years experience as an E.C.E although she does have previous experience as an Educational Assistant (EA). Over 30 3-5 year olds in a room with 2 people with that level of education/experience/expertise is definitely an issue.

    While I would love to see a program similar to what I’ve described above I strongly believe that the best thing that we can do to improve the development and performance of our children is to increase the amount of time and resources available to parents to invest in their families. I believe that allowing for income splitting between spouses with dependent children is the only way to realistically give most people the ability to invest less time into work outside the home and more time into work inside the home. I suspect that as more and more people can afford to and feel comfortable investing more of their time at home with their families many of the educational and social problems we see would diminish and we would be far better equipped to work on those problems at the family and neighbourhood/community level where these things are most likely to be dealt with with success. However the price tag attached to such a tax reform would make the cost of full day kindergarten seem a pittance in comparison and it is the topic of an entirely different discussion.

  21. The idea of the program is not terrible. Kindergarten is a time to explore and learn what the world is all about. But to say that this program is revolutionary is way off base. It’s just a really expensive experiment–kind of like the open concept pods in the early 70’s! After two years of being on their own agenda, there is no more readiness than there was before. If they’re ready, they learn, if not, they don’t. Since there is no “teaching” of curriculum expectations but more encouragement to learn through trial and error, they could just as easily do this in their own world outside of school. Of course, therein lies the problem. TV, iPads, computers, sitting around on their own… some kids don’t get that interaction… they don’t help build that new room, bake the cookies, pile wood scraps the way they used to do it. They sit… So, the province picks up the tab to parent the children who don’t get these opportunities–at the expense of the others who are ready and willing to do it themselves.

    Then comes the stringent demands in Grade one… There will be EQAO testing in Grade 3 after all! The testing is all about specific knowledge and consistent terminology. Has the Early Learning Kindergarten given them that advantage? I doubt it! Are they able to sit and listen? Not for very long. So, they will change the Grade one program, then the Grade 2 program… and so on. I’ve been in education long enough to know that this is but another fad that will pass but it is here for now. We will take some of the positives from it but will have to let go of what doesn’t work. Of course, it has been thought up by those who need a pet project to leave their mark but, at the end of the day, it will be the teachers and unions who will be blamed if it doesn’t work! Of course, I’m of the belief that they should never have scrapped Grade 13!

    Oh, and by the way… Speaking of slamming grammar… I once sent a note to the Fraser Institute questioning their data and subsequent rankings on an EQAO report. Although it was clearly wrong and hadn’t been investigated, their only response was to slam my use of double exclamation marks!!!! I guess when you don’t like the message, the best thing to do is deflect attention so that you look very intelligent!

  22. Really,
    I see children who want their mommy’s all day long. Nothing a loving mom couldn’t do at home by reading stories and providing activities for her own children with (minimal) or with out support from government.

  23. This has been known for decades and the program designers of the Ontario full day program should have done their basic research. Early intervention for kids in low-income households where there may be limited opportunities to interact and develop social, verbal skills benefit from such programs (how long the benefit lasts is still up for debate).

    But most kids do poorly and even being sent off to day care is problematic. The ideal situation is at home care by one parent – why the heck will governments not actually support parents to stay home with their kids? It would be a lot cheaper than subsidizing day care or creating full day kindergarten programs. But then kids don’t vote and most stay at home parents don’t vote Liberal or NDP. But surprise, surprise, surprise – teachers, government workers and day care workers do.

  24. The problem with the full-day learning is the RATIOS. It is all about ratios. When children were in daycare the ratios were acceptable under the Days Nursery Act for these children. Now there are classes with 30 children and two adults present-one teacher and one ECE. No one can possibly focus in class sizes this big. This is a huge issue that is not being addressed and as an ECE it sickens me.

  25. This article is so biased… I can’t believe this reporter only interviewed one actual parent who complained his daughter is tired after a day of school. (I think my kid is tired after a weekend day of play too). I know for my daughter, full day kindergarten has been amazing! Not only is it saving us the huge daycare fees we were paying. But she is also fully reading and writing – on a decent level – before even starting grade 1

  26. In my own family situation, where I am not able to provide social interactions for my children, kindergarten has been invaluable. My girls have made so many friends that they would not have had a chance to get to know until grade 1 when they would’ve been concentrating more on work and learning than play.
    I find it is also very helpful to get them in the habit of getting up at the same time everyday and getting ready, going to the school, doing homework, and helping to get lunches ready.

  27. Let’s be realistic. The wide popularity of full day ECE and Kindergarten is because parents must be working full time jobs to support their family. The cost of even one parent staying home, or sending a child to daycare, hiring a babysitter etc. in today’s world for most is not at all feasible. Families actually budget and count the years/days down till their kids can get into school and get what is in essence free babysitting.

  28. I think the idea that it does nothing to assist special needs children is lunacy. My ASD daughter (and most ASD children to my understanding) do better in a structured environment. The other point in the article that seems ridiculous is that the children are ‘taken out of familial care too early.’ It’s a minority of children that stay at home with a parent, the majority spend the afternoon at a daycare or with another care provider. Also, the majority of children have spent their day in some form of daycare since 1 year of age. So any notion that all day kindergarten is too much for them seems far fetched.

    • But consider the adult to child ratio in daycare compared to a school.

  29. This was interesting information. Just recently I was feeling guilty for not sending my 3 year old to preschool. This supports my instinct to keep him at home and put the money into his education account for university. A classroom with one teacher and 20 little 3-4 year olds is not the best fit for the emotional or social needs of small children. It seems like a very expensive solution to the underpinning problem of quality childcare. I would think the government would be jumping with joy that there is evidence to discontinue this program.

  30. This part just makes me howl with laughter: “This aligns with complaints that full-day programs impede the social and emotional development of some children by removing them from familial care too early.”

    My kids have been in full-day DAYCARE since they were each 13 months old. We cannot afford to stay home with them. I’d rather go it with the state than go it alone, thank you very much.

    Reality: many parents cannot afford to stay home or do not wish to. If you want productive adults contributing to the economy, you need to work with them to provide meaningful, affordable care for their kids.

  31. The full day program was working and was great until they rolled out the final phase of the split class so that all Jk/sk class rooms were half jk’s and half sk’s. I feel it has impeded the sk’s and they often get forgotten in the class as the jk’s need so much attention. I am now paying a ton of money to get my youngest caught up to where she should be and ready for grade 1.

  32. There needs to be a study done to compare the following variety of care options that 4 and 5 years are in:
    daycare centres- full day -ratio of 1 to 8
    1/2 day school and half day daycare
    home daycare- full day -ratio 1 to 5
    stay at home parent involved with OEYC and other stimulating programs.

    It is unfair to make a blanket statement such as “Full day kindergarten is failing our children.”. There are so many options for children it is virtually impossible to say for sure which option is the best. I have a seen children benefit from full day kindergarten program because school provides a educational, consistent environment. I believe that there are 2 Major problems with all day kindergarten. 1, Historically school teachers have gone to university to learn to teach children 6 years old and up; ECE teachers are taught to teach children 5years old and under. 2, The ratio for teacher to school age child in JK/SK is 1 to 12 (or 15). In a daycare centre it is 1 RECE teacher to 8. I think the “idea” of all day kindergatden is good. I believe that RECEs or school teachers trained to teach preschool children, should be the only ones teaching JK and SK. I also believe that the ratios and guidelines for JK and SK should be the same as the DNA.

  33. I think that there are many benefits to the full-day program and it allows children to thrive with inquiry-based/play-based learning. It would be wonderful if this inquiry could continue into the older grades so that these students can be supported after they leave full-day. I currently volunteer in a classroom and the students love coming back to school – some of them don’t want to go on holidays! I think that this really fosters a love of learning early on.

    I think that we also need to realize that many children come from families where they are sent to daycare for the rest of the time that they are not at school. If they attend a half-day program or alternate-day program, many of them will be away from their families all day anyway.

  34. Who is behind this article… I am not a conspiracy theorist normally but I have to question the timing of the article… This has the scent of the conservative party all over it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. I beg to differ. Full day kindergarten has been amazing. Our daughter is reading above grade level. I wish play based learning extended into grades 1& 2. Right now, our daughter’s creative side is being encouraged and nourished. Through play based learning, she has been able to spread her wings. The sad part for me, is she will get into grade one next year and that will all be squashed. Not every child learns by sitting at a desk and pushing pencils. I think it does our children a disservice, to suddenly stop the play based learning program after kindergarten. I full support it extending into grades one and two, gradually weaning them. Play based learning doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. It’s still structured, just not in the traditional way.

  36. The best education system in the world is found in the Netherlands, they start school at age 7! Younger start times are not the answer . . . we need a complete overhaul of our education system.

  37. What else would you expect from such an inept government? Hopefully for the next election the Conservatives will have someone much better to offer than Hudak and we’ll get rid of the damaging Liberal regime for a long, long time.

  38. Our family doctor’s belief in what is best for children up to grade one: Having fun with their family, feeling the enjoyment that their parents get from being with them. Whenever we have gone to him with a concern about our children’s early “development”, he says: Enjoy your children, have fun with them, rather than “developing” them. The best way children learn is by having fun experiences with their families.

  39. Being a grandmother I know that in this day and age many families have both parents working, either by choice or necessity. Also in this day and age most families these days do not have a doting grandparent living nearby to provide loving one on one care if necessary. These grandparents are either working themselves or do not live close. So,most particularly in lower income families, there is no choice except to put one’s child into an unlicenced day care or any other cheap daycare. We have all heard horror stories. So all day kindergarden provides some relief…and as a side benefit enhances the educational readiness of these children. To attck this program only on the degree of enhancing the child’s readiness for higher learning, is misguided in my opinion.

  40. This result does not surprise me although, “good try”. Public education should not be responsible for educating children that are simply NOT READY. Three, four and even some five year olds are not brain ready!.. This was a band-aide solution to not having sufficient daycare/nursery school options for children this age. Shake your heads and try to understand that children at this age need SMALL group instruction (5/6 max) for true learning. Either stop having so many children (there is such a thing as birth control), or suck it up and stay at home to read them books or lobby for better daycare options. Jeepers people, get a grip!!! You created these children, now take the responsibility.

  41. I suggest that it’s not the fact that the children are at school full time that is the problem. Full-Day Kindergarten may be failing because of the large number of students in each class and because of the new Discovery Based philosophy.

  42. I think this analysis of full-day kindergarten is terribly flawed, at least with respect to children without special needs (which is the only type of student I know about).

    The article says, “’To be clear, some children appear to have done worse with [full-day early learning kindergarten],’ the report states. The biggest failings were in the categories of emotional maturity, communication skills and general knowledge. This aligns with complaints that full-day programs impede the social and emotional development of some children by removing them from familial care too early.”

    “Removing them from familial care too early”? We’re not talking about residential schools here, are we? How many young children would actually be in 24/7 “familial care” if full-day kindergarten were not an option? Precious few, I reckon. These days most kids have some form of care outside of the home before they attend school, do they not? And establishing bonds with other caring adults can be a positive experience, can it not?

    As for “emotional maturity, communication skills and general knowledge,” based on our experience with our daughter, kindergarten has been a huge boon on all fronts. Though she started school at the age of three and is the youngest kid in the school, she was pretty emotionally mature when she entered JK, but she has definitely grown in leaps and bounds in all three of these areas since she started last September. Her social and emotional development has been enhanced, not impeded, by full-day kindergarten. Kindergarten also alleviates what is for many families a financial burden (i.e., daycare costs).

    There are myriad ways the government can choose to spend such large sums of money, and any number of alternatives may be advantageous, but I hardly think it’s fair to say we are “failing” our children with this program. I call clickbait on this headline.