Full-day Kindergarten: Early childhood educators reflect on their first year in the classroom

Matthew Romain, Inessa Petersen

care.”  — Jenn Wallage,  president, Waterloo DECE Local

“For us, there were challenges due to physical space for every aspect of the program from storage of toys, space in the coatroom, space for children to play.”  — Mandi Judd

“Challenges are met differently by everyone: the unknown of what was expected and where the program was going to go; bringing two educators (teacher/early childhood educator) together who come from very different backgrounds/experience in hope of building a strong successful relationship.”  — Rayna Barrese

Benefits for our youngest learners

DECEs were encouraged to see that parents embraced program and were delighted by the significant growth they observed in their children:

“At first, parents did not know much about the program and what to expect. By the second term of parent interviews, parents were expressing how their child was excelling in reading, writing, and social development.”  — Diego Olmedo

“Parents have been very pleased with how well we know each individual child, and the progress the children have been making while attending the program.”  — Mandi Judd

“Parents were very excited and thankful that the program was offered. It allowed children in lower-income areas to have the benefits of a great program. Parents were very appreciative and some were surprised how much knowledge their child gained and how excited they were to go to school.”  — Rayna Barrese

The teacher/DECE partnership – playing is learning

The partnership between the teacher and DECE brings a wonderful blend of experience to the early learning classroom. The strengths of the partnership are obvious to participants. Children are benefiting by being the recipients of well-rounded education as they begin their lifelong educational journey.

“Full-day kindergarten allows children the opportunity to be in a structured setting while experiencing play-based learning and the consistency of having their teacher and DECE for both JK and SK. A successful relationship between staff builds a successful building block for children.”  — Rayna Barrese

“Teachers have a vast knowledge of the Ontario curriculum for kindergarten and received the training necessary to teach what a child needs to learn in kindergarten. The DECE has specific knowledge of early childhood development, teaching methods, and activities suited to engaging the whole child, and a focus on play as a vehicle to teach the larger concepts.”  — Amy Rasmussen

“With two qualified professionals in the classroom for the full school day, more students will get one-on-one attention and opportunities to learn together in small groups.”  — Diego Olmedo

Year 2 and beyond

DECEs are committed to building on their experiences from the past year:

“In year 2, we look forward to the opportunity to continue and expand what we learned from the program last year. We are looking forward to providing new experiences for the children through play.”  Mandi Judd

“DECEs and teachers are looking forward to the excitement of teaching many of their JKs in SK. [It will give us] a chance to build on the children’s knowledge and expand on their interests. After building a successful partnership


ETFO president Sam Hammond

The  Ontario  government took  a  courageous step in October when it announced that it would go ahead with full-day kindergarten.

ETFO president Sam Hammond

When  school begins next September 600 Ontario elementary schools will open their first early learning program (ELP) classrooms.