The ripple effect of full-day kindergarten

The doors of Tracy's kids' daycare may be closing — and many other parents in her region are in the same stressful situation. Are you?

By Tracy Chappell
The ripple effect of full-day kindergarten

Photo: BC Gov Photos via flickr

Last week, our favourite teacher retired from Anna and Avery’s preschool. She was the reason we chose this specific preschool, and the main reason we’ve stayed there for the past four years. And now she’s gone. I admit, I shed a tear or two as I hugged her for the very last time.
I wonder if more goodbyes are on the way. We still don’t know if the preschool will remain open past the end of this school year. This isn’t such a big problem for Anna, as I’d already planned to pull her out in June and put her in day camps for the summer (she’ll be six, and it’s already clear she’s outgrown this space). But for Avery, I have one more year of three half-days where I still need care (she’ll be entering half-day JK in the fall). Whether or not she’ll be staying put is up in the air. And I hate up in the air, especially when it’s about where my child will spend an important chunk of her time each week.
I’m not the only one feeling it. Councillers in our region were about to vote on, but have now tabled, a controversial motion to close 12 city-run child care centres, eliminating approximately 800 spaces. The reason? Full-day kindergarten is leaving centres with low enrollment. However, more and more centres seem to be pondering closing their doors before the program has been fully rolled out in 2014, leaving lots of parents scrambling to find child care for kids under age four, or for those who aren’t yet in kindergarten fulltime.
I’ve been a little indifferent to the onset of full-day kindergarten in Ontario because at our school, the program won’t start until Avery’s SK year and I’m fine having her in full days at that time (in the meantime, she is in preschool three days a week while I work). I know there’s been opposition to it, but practically everyone I know has his or her kids in full-time daycare and I know for these parents, full-day kindergarten will ease a huge financial burden while giving kids a rich academic and social environment. At least that’s what they promise us.
I imagine full-day kindergarten is very much like preschool, but I haven’t talked to anyone with children in the program to know if it’s living up to expectations. What about you? I’d love to hear some details of the day-to-day routine and overall impression if your child is in the program, or if you’re teaching it. Also, if you’re home with your kids (full- or part-time), do you think full-day kindergarten is too much, too soon?

Photo: BC Gov Photos via Flickr

This article was originally published on Feb 07, 2012

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