Key Points and Sample Letter on Early Learning Education
By Ruth Bredenhof, BV ARPA [Read a more detailed article by BV ARPA on the same topic here. Find a sample letter below]
The BC Government has decided to expand Early Learning to include full-day kindergarten for half of BC Schools in 2010, and for all five-year-olds by 2011. Other provinces, such as Ontario, have plans to extend their Early Learning programs as well. Currently, ½ day kindergarten for five year olds is the norm in BC. Although kindergarten will remain optional, government funding will only be provided for schools that offer full-time kindergarten (beginning in 2011). The BC Government also indicated that they hope to expand school to four and three year olds within the next few years.
Reasons provided by government:
- Positively impact children’s future success in school academically & socially.
- Economic reasons- enables more parents to work.
- Provide parents with more options.
- To “keep up” with other countries around the world who have extensive early learning programs.
Other reasons often provided:
- Half-day kindergarten is a bother for parents due to transportation, child-care etc.
- Improve the readiness for kindergarten & grade one (currently 25% are not “ready”).
- Will free-up more child-care spaces for other children.
Practical Arguments/ Talking Points
- No strong evidence of positive impacts on the child’s future successes in school. There is no discernable difference by age 8 between those with early learning education and those who started later.
- Child would go to a much higher child to adult ratio –from current max in childcare of 8 to 1 to 20 to1
- MacLean’s’ article shows early schooling is especially harmful to boys.
- Seems to be nothing more than “expensive institutionalized day-care”. Children learn mostly through relationships & play- not clear why play should take place in a formal kindergarten setting where free play would be compromised.
- Children currently do have access to many formal programs to compliment their free play (including the free Strong Start programs)- these would be undermined if resources were relegated to the “formal’ option of school. It is falsely concluded that children currently do not have access to early learning programs and therefore need government-run, all-day classroom experience.
- Very expensive: approx $400 million+ all pay through higher taxes
- Demand is strong from families who face expensive childcare costs (currently $600-800/mth) and schools who face declining enrolment, but is this best for our children and our society?
What Can Be Done?
- Meet with your MLA and write letters to the minister of education to request that they allow schools to choose to maintain the current system of part time kindergarten with government funding. Explain how further expansion of early learning to three and four year olds would not be beneficial. Encourage government to look at other ways to improve the current system:
- Suggest 2 or 3 full-days for kindergarten to help alleviate some of the challenges with transportation & daycare and still give the children the “days-off” for free play & recuperation.
- Communities should clearly layout program options for parents with pre-school age children so they can participate in programs suitable for their children at their discretion.
- Suggest alternative policies (such as family taxation in France, or income splitting) to make it easier for one parent to stay home with their children.
- Remind your MLA that organizations pushing for increased Early Learning have agendas to merge childcare and education and seek to overcome the ideology of the family (e.g. OECD). This contrasts the BC’s Early Learning Framework, which states that, the “families are the primary caregivers of children and have the most important role in promoting their children’s well-being, learning, and development in the context of supportive communities.”
Honourable Margaret MacDiarmid
Minister of Education & Minister Responsible for Early Learning & Literacy
PO Box 9179, Stn Prov Govt,
Victoria, BC V8W 9H8
RE: ALL-DAY/ FULL-TIME KINDERGARTEN
Dear Hon. Margaret MacDiarmid,
As parents, we are concerned with the direction the province is taking in regards to expanding early learning education.
There is no concrete evidence that shows that full-time kindergarten will actually improve a child’s future success in school. Studies show that there is no discernable difference by age 8 between those with early learning education and those who started later. We have also heard that there are no plans to actually change the curriculum. We feel that it is such a short time that our children are home before full-time schooling begins. Why hurry it? It is important for parents to be with their children and teach them many things about life besides the academic side.
Many of the current issues of why parents are interested in switching to full time kindergarten can be alleviated by switching to 2 or 3 full days per week instead of the current system of half days. This would improve many transportation issues as well as let children experience “full” school days while allowing the children to have the much needed days off to rest and play at home.
For those of us parents who prefer to send our childen to part-time kindergarten, we would like the option to keep the current system with government funding. Please consider allowing schools (with consultation from parents) to choose to continue to offer part-time kindergarten with government funding, or to choose the full time kindergarten option.
Thank-you for considering our request.
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