My concern is that the government and the department may rush to set up Kindergarten – it may be easy to simply use a school model which may not work. Here are my questions in more detail:
Will the design be like school or will it incorporate the best thinking for younger children? All the research tells us that young children need discovery or play based learning. Boys in particular will be turned off by having to sit still and listen – they have to move around and explore – so if the idea is to simply move our typical grade school into K then we will get a worse result than having nothing.
Who will be the teachers? The whole Teacher/ECDA breach should be tackled and solved – but we must surely put Kids first. The issues of pay and recognition have the potential to get in the way.
How long will be the day and what will be the thinking behind it? Typically K is only available for a few hours in the morning. With 80% of PEI mums in the workforce, this makes K v challenging. At Smart Start, an experimental K in schools, we designed the day to be able to have the children onsite all day so it was a one stop experience.
If K is designed as a 3 hour deal – then mums will have to have at least one other alternative plus two drives
Will parents be part of the design? At Smart Start the parents were really involved in also learning abut what was happening with their child – the parents were an integral part of the experience. Traditionally the parents are at arms length. Will we design K to have this integrated feature?
My last question is the question that I think I have to keep asking – Will we make policy on the fly or step back and look at the larger picture of our young and our future?