Teachers gear up for full day kindergarten
Teachers in school districts across BC will be back in their classrooms by next week, putting up posters, labelling toy bins, and laminating name tags. Children in every BC district - but only about half of all kindergarten-aged students - will attend full day kindergarten starting in September, 2010.
Today, a group of kindergarten teachers are sitting in on a full day kindergarten conference organized by the British Columbia Primary Teachers' Association (BCPTA). Topics include: "Show and tell... flat or fabulous?", about how to use the age-old concept of show and tell as a lesson in social responsibility, and "Cook up some science", an interactive session in which teachers will learn how to make kid-pleasing science experiments such as "elephants' toothpaste". One conference session also covers the topic of how to manage a K-1 split class, balancing the play-based learning of kindergarten with the reading-and-writing focus of Grade 1.
So what will the kids be doing for the extra two-and-a-half hours every day?
Certainly not number-and-letter worksheets. In fact, one district in the lower mainland is said to have banned worksheets from its kindergarten classrooms.
According to kindergarten experts, the key to successful programs is more play. Ideally, they say, full day kindergarten will allow more time for kids to make up puppet shows in the theatre, have tea parties at the house centre, and construct marbleworks towers on the carpet, before hearing the dreaded words "clean up time".
Full day kindergarten programs will not be available to all BC children until September 2011. In the meantime, many schools that have been designated for full day kindergarten this year reportedly received large numbers of cross-boundary applications. Parents whose children were granted admission outside their catchment area may face a tough decision for Grade 1: should they let their children stay with the friends with whom they've spent a year having play dates and going to birthday parties? Or should they re-apply to their community school in order to connect with the neighborhood kids and simplify transportation?
The following links offer more information on full day kindergarten in BC:
The BC Ministry of Education's Program Guide for full day kindergarten
The BC Ministry of Education's questions and answers about full day kindergarten
UBC professor Marilyn Chapman's description of the benefits of full day kindergarten in a sidebar video
BCPTA's list of the equipment that should be found in each kindergarten classroom
A list of VSB schools that will be offering full day kindergarten in September, 2010