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Friday, December 17, 2010

The Growing Pains of FDK/ELP

Earlier this week the Ontario Ministry of Education changed part of their plans for the new FDK/ELP.  The before and after school programs as part of the FDK/EKP will no longer have to be run by the school/board. The Ministry's Press Release words the changes as 'giving parents more options'. The Toronto Star & Parent Central refer to it as 'scrapping a key component'. Dr. Charles Pascal's Report on 'Early Learning' (2009) was to initiate a new era for Early Learning in Ontario. Proponents quickly applauded the initiative, Ministry of EducationThe Globe & Mail,and Wonder Moms. With the 3-5 year phase in of the program beginning in the fall of 2010 the first major hurdle/roadblock arose, the running and funding of the before and after school programs, the Globe & Mail,  'Failing Grade'. Were schools and school board prepared to run these programs? The government was slow with announcing (adequate) funding. Many boards stepped back from this initiative. The idea of seamless programming was removing childcare centres and other partnerships (YMCA, Early Years/Best Start) out of the picture. Could not these partnership be enhanced to meet the programs needs? Down the road & not overly publicized with the implementation of the FDK/ELP is the move for the Ministry of Education to provide both education and social services ( and all) for children 0-12. The school was to be developing into the 'Hub' of the Community for children. This included removing and incorporating the corresponding Ministry's / Agencies / Departments and funding into the Education Ministry. Or the plans to bring 3 year olds into FDK/ELP. Has the government made a radical move or is it moving too much too quickly? For some yes. Are 3 & 4 and even 5 year olds ready for this? Emotionally, Physically, Socially? 'Good Intentions' make the case that children learn things at certain stages of their life. Is there a stigma if you don't enroll your child in FDK, even though school is optional until age 6? 'Your child will be behind.' Look at Finland, everyones reference, poster child, these days. Are we removing the joys and tribulations of parenting and placing them in the hands of teachers and ECEs? Would/could universal childcare not serve the same purpose with similar results? Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate has an interesting perspective on parenting. The more parents are removed from the children's upbringing and placed with their peers, the more they depend & relate to their peers than their parents. I am hoping that the FDK/ELP is only having Growing Pains and the Ministry will take the time, plan and implement properly and provide adequate/long-term funding to make it work. I am maybe way off base here but I am trying.

These are the views of the author and are not representative of those of the AMDSB.

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