Teacher not sold on all-day kindergarten

The Minister of Education is raving about the success of the full-day kindergarten but at least one teacher is not happy with the new system.

Heather Davis, a JK/SK teacher at Military Trail Public School, said full-day kindergarten is “not worthwhile continuing.”

Reflecting on the first four months of the school year, she said it doesn’t appear the students are learning more in a full-day program.

“They are so young and some of them aren’t toilet trained,” Davis said. “Many of them have behaviourial issues.

“It almost feels like I’m running a day care instead of a class.”

Minister of Education Leona Dombrowsky said she has been hearing mainly positive feedback from parents and teachers at the elementary schools.

Responding to concerns that children might not be ready for a full-day of school, she said “the choice always has been and still is with the parents.”

“If the parents don’t feel their child is ready for full-day (kindergarten), then they don’t have to put their child in full-day (kindergarten),” Dombrowsky said. “As far as the province is concerned, we’re definitely moving ahead with bringing full-day kindergarten to all schools.”

Davis has worked as a kindergarten teacher for four years and said she hasn’t noticed an increase in the students’ abilities, comparing the full-day and half-day programs.

“There were a lot of things that really weren’t considered because the program was really rushed out,” Davis said. “Quite a few of the teachers I work with feel the same. Very frustrated.

“It’s too much for the juniors,” she said. “They’re anywhere from three to six year olds and get tired.”

Srikumar Thangarajah son is a JK student in Davis’ class.

“At the start, we were very concerned about full-day (kindergarten),” Thangarajah said. “But our son has adapted well, so we’re fine with it.”

Thangarajah’s son, Atsayan Srikumar, is only 4 years old but he happily rattled off the names of the months — though accidentally forgetting May and October.

“I like school,” Srikumar said, bobbing up and down in his seat. “I don’t get tired.”

His elder sister, Srithevi Srikumar, is now in Grade 4 and went through half-day kindergarten.

Thangarajah said he hasn’t noticed any differences in the learning pace or the amount learned between his two children.

“Maybe it’s too early to tell, but it seems they are about the same,” he said.

Military Trail’s principal Ken Morden said most parents are eager to place their kids in full-day kindergarten.

“We’ve had to turn parents away,” he said. “And I understand it has been a difficult time adjusting for the teachers, but it’s just a matter of working through the problems. I’m confident it will be more successful next year after this trial phase.”