Consultation – Now Kindergarten! – What are these bureaucrats thinking about?

Many parents may be thrilled to learn that they can send their kids to school earlier.

But why would all of those who have to deliver on this promise find out about all the work that they are going to have to do as a surprise? In the middle of the school year? (Link to Teresa Wright’s article in the Guardian here)

Sonya Corrigan, president of the Early Childhood Development Association, said since that announcement she has been overwhelmed with calls from parents wanting to put their children in kindergarten for the next three months so they’ll be ready for school in September

“Looking at what’s left of the school year – we’re talking weeks,” she said. “I really and truly don’t think we would be offering programs that would be in the best interests of children and that parents would be making the best choice.”

It is the parents’ choice, and many feel their children are ready.

But Corrigan wants to know why no one from the sector was contacted or consulted before this government decision was made.

“It’s not so much the change in date, it’s the absence of consultation with our sector. Our sector was called by parents who read it in the newspaper. And they weren’t even aware of what the change was.”

“We’re not sure where this came from, how the decision was come to, what input there was into coming to that decision.”

What kind of advice has the department also been giving the Premier? Here is a key statement in the press release:

“Premier Robert Ghiz says the revised policy reflects Government’s commitment to lifelong learning beginning in the early years. “There is a great deal of new research that indicates young children benefit from being in a structured learning environment,” he said. “We want to do everything possible to support early literacy and learning, to identify learning difficulties at an early age and provide the necessary early interventions,“ he said”

“Young Children benefit from being in a structured learning environment” is the key phrase. Well folks the opposite is the case.

Who is offering this advice? It’s not true. It’s wrong and if it was offered to the Premier as the truth, then someone is at best misleading the Premier.

Here is a link to a long and recent interview in MacLeans Magazine that reviews the research. At the core is the potential damage done to boys, who are already doing poorly, by adding structure too early. Here is a snippet:

Q: So when do you think boys should start kindergarten, if the focus remains on learning to read and write?

A: Seven years ago I wrote an article for the American Psychological Association saying the default age of entry should be five for girls, six for boys. That created quite a stir. I have since abandoned that assertion, though I still think it’s a good idea, because parents generally don’t understand it. They say, “Oh, you think my son’s dumb?”

Q: Obviously there’s going to be individual variation. How many boys are ready at age five to start kindergarten?

A: On the order of 12 per cent; 88 per cent would do better if they started at age six. The key to success in early elementary education is doing the right thing at the right time. Farmers understand this. You can have the best farmland in the world and the best feed corn in the world, but if you try to plant your crop in the middle of a January snowstorm, you will not be successful. Likewise, you may have a very bright boy, but if you’re asking him to do things that are not developmentally appropriate, he won’t be successful. And the danger is that he will develop negative attitudes toward school, and it will be very difficult to change them.

So here we are again – we have a department that will not engage with the public and with those affected by their decisions. We have a department that is briefing the premier with information that is wrong.

If I was the Premier I would be asking myself “What is going on?”

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12 Responses to Consultation – Now Kindergarten! – What are these bureaucrats thinking about?

  1. Ann Robertson says:

    I’m not sure that anyone is giving adequate consideration to children who have never participated in a child care program, generally because their parents aren’t working. These children have already missed the opportunity to participate in early learning programs and now are expected to get ready for school in 13 weeks. The extent to which they are ready for school is very much jeopardized. These are kids who are often excluded and this decision will have an additional negative impact.

  2. chrissie says:

    throwing children into an environment where peers have already formed bonds and attatchments…not to mention have already overcome obstacles in learning and have adapted their behaviors appropriately for the program is plain and simply not fair to the child….isn’t that who we are thinking about . We have to think about the consequences on their learning , behaviors , maturity , emotional/social development in the years to come.
    Who are we going to blame when these children “fall through the cracks” in the later grades?

  3. Laura Cannon says:

    This weeks “surprise” announcemnet regarding Kindergarten is once again at the expence of our children and our Early Childhood Educators. Two years ago I left the field that I loved so much. After almost 20 years I got tired of all the promises. I remember that not that long ago ( 2003) I was very impressed when PEI took a stand and changed the entry age for starting school. Finially, we were tihinking about the children. Now, after such a short time for some reason things sre changing again, this time without notice.
    Can you imagine telling grade 1 teachers that they have 13 weeks to get the children ready for grade 2? No, it wouldn’t happen. Why? Teachers are respected. Their field is respected. How can anyone expect these educators to offer a quality program in only 13 weeks? What about the children? Are they being offered a fair chance to succeed? All research shows the importance of early learning. If this is so then why are we setting our childeren up to fail? Are our decision makers interested in votes or what’s best for our children. They say actions speak louder then workd so I guess we know the answer to that.
    To all of you educators out there still “sticking it out” I applaud you. Don’t let this recent lack of respect get you down. What you do is important. It is important to the children you teach, the families you support and the communities you live in.

  4. Angela Kelly says:

    In light of the recent announcement this past week regarding the age of entry into our islands kindergarten programs… I have become very enraged with the decisions our governement as made. In september we had started our programs with two groups of children . One being children that were currently enrolled in a childcare program and second those children who were not attending a childcare centre on the island..

    As a former Kindegarten Teacher and an Early Childhood Educator i can tell you first hand on the importance not only of the social skills needed but also the curriculium that was designed by the Department of Education to be implemented in our kindergarten programs.

    Already our island children who are currently enrolled in our kindergarten programs have completed six months of curriculium and social education. They have established social peer interactions and have learned how to resolve group and peer conflicts. They are into the routine of there programs, they are trusting us Early Childhood Educators as there mentors to help them make decisions and to guide them in the skills necessary now and for the rest of there lives.

    I was enraged when a letter was sent to our program telling us effective immediately any child who is currently enrolled in a kindergarten program fto begin in September and whose birthday is in September or October of 2008 are able to join a kindergraten program immediately.
    They are able to carry out the next three months of kindergarten and enroll in a grade one program in September.

    To put this weight on the shoulders of our islands families, our Early Childhood Educators and Our Kindergarten Programs is by no means ACCEPTABLE. For one, you are forcing parents to make a decision that could cause social unacceptance to children in our island schools, you are encouraging society to look down on the professionals who care for and educate your children ever single day during the years that matter the most. But most of all you are sending a message that our Islands Kindergarten Programs are not valued as a educational program.

    As an action of this announcement I would like to talk and to hear the opinions of our island teachers. I an interested in hearing their comments on a decision that effects them more now then ever!

    How would our school system like it if the children currently enrolled in kindergarten completed grade one during the last 3 months of the school year and were placed in a grade 2 the following september. How quickly would our government side with the teachers union on this island to come to a smarter more reasonable action for the completion of this year and the upcoming year..

    As an Early Childhood Educator on this Island I am ecouraging that all Early Childhood Educators and Island Programs stand together as a profession and not let the elected government of PEI lower the value of our Island Kindergarten Programs. Lets stand united and prove that this issue is not being taken lightly and it will not be ACCEPTED nor TOLERATED!

  5. Gail Rhyno says:

    How angry I was this morning when they were talking on the radio about this change to the age kids can enter grade one. And it doesn’t even apply to my child, he’s a November baby, thanks for that…one more month and he would be off to grade one. But I’m not bitter, I already swallowed that pill last year.

    I’m angry at this comment.

    ‘…stay the course…’ Linda Lowther is quoted saying that parents who originally planned to send their kids to kindergarten next Sept., should do just that even though they can now register for grade one. Oh thanks Linda! Put it back on me as a parent, tell me I’m using bad judgement if I allow my child to get into grade 1 rather than Kindergarten. What if the move to grade one saves my family money! What if the move to grade one allows me to go back to work rather than be home yet another year! What if I’ve put my career on hold while I wait for my kids to get into school, another year won’t kill me right!

    Why don’t you just put out a huge plate of candy on the table but tell the kids you advise they don’t eat it.

  6. gord mcleod says:

    Interesting reading the comments that have been posted….the government states that P.E.I. is keeping up with the rest of Canada when it comes to getting students in the schools early. P.E.I. is the ONLY province in Canada that does not offer a full Kindergarden in the public school system. This is the root of the problem, period. Island children are already at a disadvantage when it comes to eary intervention and teaching. I can’t understand why the concept of Kindergarden in the school system is so foreign to island parents and educators. This should not be a political issue, the earlier children are in school the chances of identifying problems are far greater. The Early Childhood programs in Daycares can still teach pre-school. It should NOT be acceptable to island parents that their children aren’t afforded the same chance that other children across Canada have. P.E.I. children are behind for a reason …put Kindergarden into the P.E.I. school system.

  7. Gail Rhyno says:

    I absolutely agree with wanting to have Kindergarten in the school system. My son attended a preschool program this year and last at the school he will eventually go into grade one. We loved it. He knows his school already. Knows his principal, the teachers recognize him. He’s totally comfortable there. Now for September I have to move him to a Kindergarten. How ridiculous! How great it would be for grade one teachers to see the kids that coming to them in a year. How great would it be for the school to evaluate the kids in their kindergarten and already have in place any followups needed for each child in grade one. How great would it be for teachers not to have to do that school prep stuff, getting kids used to the school.
    I think it’s great that when Kindergarten came to PEI the daycare centers were able to pick up that slack. But why aren’t we working toward having Kindergarten where it should be…in school!!!
    Absolutely. Now I have to transition my son out of his school, to a Kindergarten, and then back all over again. I was tempted to just keep him in that Preschool, but I have his best interest in mind and need to make sure he has the Kindergarten curriculum to be prepared.
    Kindergarten in school…I vote yes.

  8. A frustrate ECE says:

    I am very disappointed actually with this level of gratitude towards our islands kindergarten programs as it currently stands!
    You children are currently and if not currently will be entering a kindergarten program which in which had its curriculium program designed by the department of education here on PEI!

    I understand that with the recent announcement of the age increase there are many frustrations!

    But think about this…. What makes you think that the curriculium designed for kindergarten which is surrently being delivered in our ISLANDS kindergarten programs today will be any different from the one that they will incorporate into a school system!

    there was mmuch research done with the development of the curriculium and as far as i am aware the only difference between here and another province is that it is in a school setting!

    So you mean to tell me ….those of you who oppose this decision would rather see Your child(ren) get on a bus everyday which contains no seat belts where in todays world a seat belt is mandatory everyother vehicle !

    Come on here folks if you want to debate something worth while lets start there!

  9. Maureen Kerr says:

    My MLA is sending out a package that he says should answer some of my questions but if I have more that he’ll get the minister to call me.

    I have spoken to the kindergarten instructors where my son is now enrolled and they are enraged that they were not consulted and they have NO IDEA what a readiness program is and why the radios and newspapers are saying that this is what my son is now a part of , as of Monday, his first day of kindergarten.

    To try and find out, speaking of bureaucrats, I have phoned the Premier’s office, the Minister of Education, my MLA, Linda Lowther and Joyce Simpson. Still, I have no answers regarding what a readiness program is and hope to find out more next week.

    Because of the recent age change, my son is going from a home environment to kindergarten for 13 weeks and then grade one French immersion. If he’s not ready then we will hold him back in kindergarten for a year. It will be a very difficult decision.

    I have been following this blog as well as all of the articles and comments online. There are so many. In the “real world”, throughout PEI, there are many, many people very angry about this decision and how it reflects on the Province and the value our government places on early childhood education.

    I find it completely unacceptable and await more answers.

  10. […] is excellent discourse, information and opinions on this blog on early childhood education on children’s […]

  11. Early Childhood Educator says:

    As a professional working in the field of early childhood education our job is always and for most for the best interest of the child(ren) in our care and on our island… I dont think that at any point has our profession put ourselves over the best interest of children..

    The announcement that was released by the minister of education would never have cause such a complex problem if the people in the field were consulted… that my friend is where people have been misled.

    But all of that is said and done however there are still issues regarding the actions that the department of education has now put into place.

    Centres across this island have received a new “Readiness Program” outline today or will receive it over the next few days if not already!
    I encourage any parent to ask for a copy of this reprt card that will be sent along with your child if you decide to enroll them into a kindergarten program to complete the last three months and then into grade one in the fall.

    There is quite and comparsion when held against the one that the child will be getting from completing a nine month program. With that said and done i understand the financial issues that families across this island face today… in that same letter it stated that the department still believes and supports that the completion of a full kindergarten year would be more advisable. that right there would be my determining factor however the parent still has a right to make the decision. which i fully support!

    However this is were we need to stand up for what other provinces are amazed that we have… it is a Community Based Kindergarten, and folks lets face it, IT WORKS! There is no disagreement that we need a full day kindergarten program that fully finded, but it works in a community based kindergarten.

    We need early learning funding put into childcare so all children can attend a child care program.

    I feel that people are not educated enough when it comes to the role and importance of an early learning program and the benefits … it is our job to educate the community about our role and impact that the early learning programs have on a child …that continue into adulthood.

    You know very wise woman said once… that this island has an early intervention program it is all of us early childhood educators that educate day, after day, after day!

    if anyone is wanting more information and i can be of assistance please leave a message and i will check back on a regular basis… I hope i could be of help!

  12. family says:

    kids…

    […]Consultation – Now Kindergarten! – What are these bureaucrats thinking about? « Parents for Choice & Quality[…]…

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