Tag Archives: FDK

FDK Update:Literacy happenings and the like

I (Yiola) having been sharing my experiences with the Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) program from a parent’s point of view and here is another update.  My wee ones, Sylvia Clare (Senior Kindergarten) and Gallaway (Junior Kindergarten) are trekking merrily along in their kindergarten programs.  They are happy — and this makes me very happy. Some updates and observations about FDK and literacy.

  1. Sylvia Clare got into French Immersion. In our province, not all school board’s hold the same policy on French Immersion. This makes understanding the program less clear.  Some school boards/districts give every child the opportunity to go into French Immersion while others (like the one we are in) have a first come/first serve system.  The online database opened at 12pm on a set date and by 12:01 Sylvia Clare was 63rd on the list. 42 students are admitted into the program… We were notified last Monday that Sylvia Clare has been admitted and on Tuesday I registered her into the program. What does this mean? Beginning in first grade 50% of her learning will happen in French. She will have 2 classrooms teachers plus a “prep” teacher.  Big questions arise: How will this impact her language development in the short term/long term?  How will this impact her social development? Will this slow down her reading development?  Will this alter her level of engagement? So many questions and uncertainties and I’m not entirely convinced yet much of the literature AND community feedback suggests to go for the French. As a teacher educator I can speak to the general trends of French Immersion programs: students in immersion programs: acquire more vocabulary over time; catch up and often exceed reading levels of monolingual students… and yet when I look at this wee individual child, in spite of what research and theory state, only time and experience will determine if its best for her. I will keep you posted.
  2. Technology in FDK. Amazing things are happening with the whiteboard in the FDK classroom. I have observed students working individually and in groups: standing directly in front of it, touching it and manipulating shapes, words, images on the screen to solve problems. I have seen students engaged in listening activities and responding with their whole bodies to instructions provided through programs on display on the white board. I have seen attendance being tracked on the white board: all students’s names are in one row and as students enter they go up to the white board and slide their name to the other side — small details to practical use of technology in FDK.  I have seen iPads used in the FDK classroom: for gathering research, reading, listening to stories, and playing “games”. And, I have experienced communication with the teacher via REMIND technology. Oh how I love receiving a text with a pic of my son in educational action accompanied by a short text from the teacher. It makes me smile each and every time. The way digital technology is used in the classroom is meaningful, productive, and purposeful. I have also observed that it has just become a way of being in the classroom. It just is.
  3. My last update on FDK is on the idea of inquiry. I will share my understanding of inquiry in FDK with a anecdote.  Yesterday, as we drove on the Gardiner passing the CN Tower, Sylvia Clare explained Mommy we did research at school.  Harrison asked the teachers if the CN tower was the tallest building in world  and the teachers said they did not know but that it was a good question to research. So we started to research.  We looked in books and on the computer and guess what? We found out its not.  You know where the tallest building is mommy? Its not in Canada. We also learned the CN tower is a tower but not a building… and on and on she spoke about her research on towers and buildings.

These are some of the key literacy based elements that have me excited about FDK. Am I concerned about how many sight words they know? Not really. I am more concerned with their active engagement in learning and wanting to learn and this is what I see happening in the early years.

FDK update: Language and the Arts

Today is a holiday in Ontario and in several Canadian provinces: Family Day. A day to spend much needed time with family. Family Day comes at a good time since temperatures are beyond unbearable to many (me! ~ Yiola!) and the winter blahs bring a natural insistence to just take an extended break.

In honour of Family Day I would like to share a story about my family and how my Sylvia Clare (my four year old) is getting along in FDK.  About one week ago, while at home Sylvia Clare decided to paint. This was not unusual as she often paints at home. What was new was her language and ideas about art and herself.  She ushered me to the playroom, took the lead and began to explain that we were going to explore lines.  Lines I thought? So Sylvia Clare understands an element of art?  I sat in silence with what I imagine was a curious look on my face as she continued with confidence: “I’m an artist”.  Those words screamed at me with sheer joy and power. I had never called Sylvia Clare an artist… it was not something I thought of doing, although of course in my heart and mind I believed my child was an artist and a scholar and an athlete and a…..   ”

“Now mommy, you need to wear a smock so your clothes stay clean and roll up your sleeves. Please get the paints”.I followed her instructions.  Next thing I saw was Sylvia Clare carefully dividing the canvas. She began at the bottom and drew careful lines across the canvas using primary colours. Then on the upper part of the canvas she created thick textured, almost bubble like “scribble” where she mixed the colours. The entire time she was talking about her art: “Here mommy I am painting straight lines with primary colours, you see? And up here (top of the canvas) I am trying to see what scribble is like and I added some sparkle”.  She spent a lot of time working on her art and I sat and watched in amazement. Here are some pictures of Sylvia Clare from that day:

sylsmock

sylpaint

paint

 

Days passed and I wondered how Sylvia Clare was able to develop such clear language about the arts and conceptually understand the elements and most importantly to see herself as an artist. And then, the FDK newsletter came home.  The teachers shared the following in the newsletter:

The students have also been learning about a modern artist names Piet Mondrian from the Netherlands, who used primary coloured shapes and black lines to create famous pieces. They have used his method to create their own line designs. We have also experimented with bubble wrap. Some of the children are referring to themselves as “artists” now…

How one perceives oneself is often how one becomes. Sylvia Clare sees herself as an artist. She can talk about the arts and she confidently engages in art work.  So, on Family Day today I am certain we will be back in the playroom painting and playing and reading and doing… and I am sure that I will be the one who will learn the most.

Happy Family Day!

Full Day Kindergarten in Full Swing

Tis the season for parents  with children turning 4 years old to become acquainted with formal schooling and the Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) expectations. Ontario, Canada has implemented full day Kindergarten for all students across the province.  I (Yiola) am experiencing first-hand the excitement and apprehension of sending my child, a darling, vulnerable, sensitive, sweet girl (Sylvia Clare), to school for 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week.

Jumping online, I have read reviews — some for and some against — FDK and many focusing on children’s language and literacy development.  See below for some examples:

http://globalnews.ca/news/1237501/full-day-kindergarten-children-score-highest-in-vocabulary-self-regulation/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/full-day-kindergarten-offers-no-academic-advantage-study-says/article17715532/

As a parent, my worry is not so much if my Sylvia Clare’s academic achievement will be more or less. As a parent, my worries are related to her well-being. Will she be happy? Will she love herself even more? Will she make friends and learn how to work/play with others well? Will she come home each day and share stories of interesting things she did and learned.   I most certainly want to her read and write, but in good time. I feel there is no rush and I want a pressure-free learning environment for her.

In a recent article  http://www.mykawartha.com/news-story/4397024-why-full-day-kindergarten-has-better-prepared-our-kids-for-grade-1/,  educational consultant Joan Ruf comments:

“One of the wonderfully positive things about full-day kindergarten is the appreciation of the whole child,” she said, explaining the program is successfully marrying the concepts of academic and emotional growth. “So it’s not just about reading and math. It’s about how are they doing. What are they doing for themselves.”     This statement gives me some comfort.

Schools in Ontario are now inviting parents to attend FDK information sessions in order to prepare ‘us’ for the year ahead.  I will be writing about my experiences going through this process and journaling Sylvia Clare’s experiences as she begins FDK in September.

As a professor of education, through the researching and teaching and writing and sharing,   what lies at the centre of my work  are the children and their development as happy, healthy, thoughtful, literate human beings.

The issues surrounding FDK: its purpose, process, and outcomes are vast. With a political election looming the topic of FDK is front and centre and how it will be managed and maintained is up in the air.