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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Parents: Their Future Role?

'Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Matter" by Gordon Neufeld versus "Early Years Study 3" by Fraser Mustard and throw in "With Our Best Future in Mind" by Charles Pascal. I am a parent, I don't have a Masters degree or mounds of research before me but I know what I think and believe.

I couldn't believe it when I read "Early Year Study 3" and it was suggesting children begin School (pre-school) at 2 years of age.  Some people thought "With Our Best Future in Mind" was foreshadowing this when it came out. Now with childcare falling under The Ministry of Education in Ontario, are all things in place for this to happen? Here are two newspaper articles: "Underminding Parents" and "Early Childhood Education for All" discussing the Study and giving a little insight.

What Mustard and Pascal's Reports have in common is the implementation of school based early learning. There are two streams of thought here for the rationale and need for this: the need for childcare and the rationale that children learn better and quicker at an early age. Which one is the truth or both?

If it was for childcare, how does Full Day Kindergarten ( & extended day programs) compare to provincial funded universal child? Working families still need pre K & holiday childcare. Childcare Centres are struggling with loss of clients due to FDK and extended day programs. "Plan Could Force Daycares to Close" Extended day programs are not viable in all areas, therefore childcare service must be viable. What is the staff/child ratio between childcare and extended day programs?  You would be surprised the number of times the government has referred to the money families have saved because of FDK. Was that the purpose or was it to streamline childcare and school?

If it is learning, why then is kindergarten optional? A child's learning mind is a sponge of absorption. The how, when, what and where of this learning is the question. "Building a Foundation" For those who choose not to participate in JK or even SK are sometimes accused of putting their children at a learning disadvantage. Will this same occur if the Study is implemented? Although things are optional, due to their nature, are viewed as mandatory. Whereas childcare, daycares, nursery schools and preschool are also optional, the stigma here does exist for none attendance.

This brings me to "Hold On To Your Kids" and the connection between children and parents and children and peers. What is the role of parents in childraising? Reading the reports it almost seems that parents are not necessary. When child and parent are separated the child becomes dependent on those around them, teachers and peers.  We read a lot how there is a need of connection between teacher and child/student for successful learning in school. I don't disbrute that. We all realize the need of socializing between children, however at times the child/peer relationship maybe stronger than the child/parent relationship. Who do we want as the child's support system, mentor and primary teacher? If a child starts school (in what ever form or name you call it) early what role does the parent play in raising that child? We question now and also know that some children are not ready for JK at age  3 1/2 years for various reasons. "Too Young for Kindergarten" All children develop differently. I realize society has changed and families have change and cultures have changed. I believe we maybe placing schools as the child raiser as well as the place of learning. The cultural and system structures of schools must change to accomplish this.

If and when this Study is played out and how remains to be seen. I believe the Ministry's thinking & planning is at times two steps ahead of what school boards can do and at the same time two steps behind what school boards are doing and will be able to do. Accommodation reviews and school closures are happening all across the province. When Pascal's Report came out schools were being closed and out came FKD and the idea of schools becoming Community Hubs. This is still playing out as implementation still is occurring. Now with Mustard's Study are school boards able to meet these potential changes. With school consolidations does this mean a wave of additions to accommodate the changes? Should school boards anticipate future changes? At what costs short and long term?

"We Want and Need Parents at the Table" the role of the Players.

I am maybe off base here and creating a conversation where one is not needed. Thanks for listening anyway to my ranting and raving.

NOTE: These are my views and opinions and do not reflect those of my associates.