As Ontario schools move towards full-day kindergarten, you may be wondering about the advantages of all-day learning, and about the differences between public schools and private child care centres like Childventures Early Learning Academy.
Well, to start off, full-day kindergarten – whether it’s public or private – offers all kinds of benefits. When children spend more time learning, they build vital skills faster. They show better readiness for grade 1, and develop enhanced social and academic abilities that will serve them well throughout their school careers. In a recent article in Parents Canada magazine, Dr. Angela Valeo, assistant professor at Ryerson’s School of Early Childhood Education, had this to say about full-day learning:
“Studies show (children) have better outcomes educationally throughout their schooling. In addition to increasing their literacy and mathematical outcomes, they learn socialization skills. Social confidence is a big part of stress reduction in school.”
So how do you choose the right full-day kindergarten for your child? Should you go with your local public school, or is private education at a learning centre like Childventures a better bet? Public schools are local, convenient, and don’t require tuition. Private schools, on the other hand, offer better resources, enhanced curriculums, lower teacher/student ratios, smaller class sizes and other benefits. So what’s right for your family? Here’s a quick overview of questions to consider:
What are the educator to student ratios? At Childventures, we maintain a 1:10 teacher to student ratio in junior kindergarten, and 1:12 in senior kindergarten. Compare that with 1:20 (or more) in public schools. With a lower ratio, your child gets more one-on-one attention, and learning is more focused and personalized – a key benefit at an age where developmental and skill levels vary wildly, and can be very different for a child born in January and one born later in the year.
What are the facilities like? Chronically underfunded public schools often struggle to keep their facilities maintained and up-to-date. They simply have no capital to renovate, so young kindergarten students often end up having to go to a far away bathroom down the hall, learning in outdated classrooms, or playing in a substandard playground.
Private schools have more capital to build and maintain modern facilities. For example, Childventures state-of-the-art learning facility has up-to-date classrooms, speciality learning rooms and enviable playgrounds. We offer our students plenty of variety; on a given day, they may spend time in the art studio, music room, gym, computer lab and house centre. Children don’t interact with the same large group all day (which can be overwhelming for some), but learn in a small-group setting that offers better quality interaction. Plus, Childventures, like all licensed day care centres in Ontario, follow the Day Nurseries Act for daylighting, and outdoor and indoor space.
Is before and after school care available? Some public schools offer day care. But they often have long waiting lists, and require that children move to another part of the school with different caregivers, which can be stressful and disruptive for the child. Parents who are unable to get their children into an available after-school program – or whose children are at a school that doesn’t have day care – have the additional hassle of arranging outside care.
Private schools like Childventures treat before and after school care a little differently. Our facility is open from 7:00am to 6:00pm, and the “extra” hours before 9:00 and after 4:00 are staffed by the same teachers your child sees all day. Children don’t have multiple caregivers throughout the day; being with same people all day helps then establish deeper relationships with their educators, and mirrors their home environment. Teachers get to know your child as an individual, not just a face in the crowd.
Who makes sure they eat their lunch? Pre-schoolers aren’t known for their good eating skills. Many, if left unsupervised at lunch or snacktime, won’t eat at all, or will only eat certain items, leaving them hungry and without energy in the afternoon. Most public schools don’t have enough staff to supervise 20 busy preschoolers and ensure they eat their lunches, so children may not get enough “encouragement” to get the nutrition they need. At Childventures, our students are carefully supervised by their classroom teachers every day at lunch and snacktimes to make sure they eat enough to get them through the rest of the day.
How often will you talk to the teacher? In public schools, teachers are often too busy with the 20 students in their class to be able to chat with a parent at pickup of drop-off time. Of course, teachers are generally open to making appointments to discuss the child’s progress, but there isn’t that everyday “touching base” that can be so helpful when gauging how your child is doing.
When your child attends a learning centre like Childventures, it’s a different environment. Parents and teachers have a chance to talk every day. Smaller class sizes, more educators, and a commitment to daily contact ensure you know exactly what your little one is doing and where they need help or encouragement. You have a chance to let the teacher know if your child is tired, is going through something at home, or even has something really interesting to share with the class.
So what’s the best full-day option for your soon-to-be kindergartener? It really depends on your child and your family. Choose several schools and/or centres and visit them all with a pen and notebook in hand. Take notes, and compare them based on the criteria that are most important to you.
If you have questions about full-day kindergarten options or about Childventures, we’d love to hear from you. Comment on our blog below, or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.