Some Ontario Catholic boards already run full-day kindergarten

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  • November 3, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Full-day kindergarten is an investment in the future and a “courageous” decision during a time of economic downturn, says the head of the Catholic teachers' union.

But it's also not unfamiliar to Catholic schools, James Ryan told The Catholic Register, given that eight Catholic boards have some form of full-day kindergarten.

“It will lead to significant improvements to a child's life, not just in kindergarten but as they move through school,” said Ryan, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association.

Ryan noted that research has shown that for every dollar invested, there is an $11 return. Children in the full-day program have also exhibited improved problem-solving, language, literacy and socio-emotional development.

The Ontario government announced on Oct. 27 that it would introduce full-day kindergarten programs at a cost of $1.5 billion. Close to 35,000 children can be enrolled next fall and the program will be fully implemented by 2015, with teachers and early childhood educators working together in the classroom.

Ryan said Catholic board programs have been around for about 20 years and do not receive dedicated funding by the province. They have been run by full-time teachers.

Dolores Cascone, senior manager for parenting and family literacy centres at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, said the board has been running a successful program since 2004.

Last year, there were 13 full-time senior kindergarten classes in seven schools located in high-needs areas. According to the Toronto board's research, children leaving full-time senior kindergarten had advanced literacy and social skills compared to students who were in the half-day programs. The emphasis, said Cascone, is on literacy, numeracy and social skills.

According to Ryan, the program at all Catholic boards is Christ-centred and rooted in Catholicism by making use of a Catholic resource called “In God's Image” and having a focus on the child's spiritual development.

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