Starting this September, all Ontario public schools will be making the switch to full-day kindergarten and graduates of the Ryerson Early Childhood Education program say they’re prepared.
Director of the program and associate professor Rachel Langford says she’s proud and confident of the students.
“Our program always represented the best in the early year’s curriculum,” said Rachel Langford, director of Ryerson’s Early Childhood Education program. “These students are knowledgeable in child development and are ready for ECE and teacher positions.”
The first implementation of full-day kindergarten was in 2010 when only a handful of schools tested the new curriculum. Since then, there have been more and more schools taking on the new system each year.
The best way to explain the system is that there is a variety of inquiry and play-based activities, which is the best learning practice for young children, Langford says.
“If kids are sitting at desks with worksheets in front of them all day, they won’t learn as well,” Langford said. “The room needs to be open, with learning stations in various areas, just as our own kindergarten is here on campus.”
The kindergarten room is an example of how all Ontario classrooms will be to best benefit all children. The classroom at Ryerson has always been a full-time class but since 2010, there have been a few tweaks.
“We strengthened the curriculum based on the program guide from the ministry about the changes to all kindergarten (curricula) starting this year,” Langford said. “I think it’s just what we needed to create the most beneficial classroom this year.”
An early childhood educator specializes in kids ranging from newborn to eight years old. The goal of the Ryerson program is to produce grads that are ready to work in a full-time kindergarten classroom. Students should able to assist teachers with a Bachelor of Education credential.
The biggest change with the introduction of full-day kindergarten is that a qualified teacher and the educator need to work as a team in the classroom, and this is where Langford can see a problem. The two need to work together or else the entire classroom can fall apart.
Ryerson ECE graduate Melissa Edwards says she is prepared for the new kindergarten curriculum. She explains that placement during all four years was the most valuable part of her schooling.
“I’ve also seen first-hand now at my teachers college placement that the combination of an ECE and teacher is the most advantageous for children,”she said.
The jump from kindergarten to Grade 1 tends to be the hardest for children and the introduction of full days at school helps kids adapt to what the next 12 years of their schooling will be like according to Edwards, who adds that she acquired experience and knowledge to help those kids make the jump.
“I think a degree versus a diploma is important,” she said. “The program gave me knowledge of how kids learn and grow which is what their schooling is really about.”
Edwards said she’s ready to become a teacher with her ECE background. “I’m excited about what’s ahead for me,” she said.