Full-day kindergarten children score highest in vocabulary, self-regulation (Global News, March 28, 2014)

A recent research report regarding all day kindergarten has given rise to a contrast in headlines in two media overviews – in Global News and in The Globe and Mail – regarding the research.

The first headline reads: “Full-day kindergarten children score highest in vocabulary, self-regulation.” The second one reads: “Full-day kindergarten offers little academic advantage, study says.”

(1) News regarding full day kindergarten as reported by Global News

A March 28, 2014 Global News article is entitled: “Full-day kindergarten children score highest in vocabulary, self-regulation.”

Among other things, the article notes:

  • Jennifer Barbour, early childhood education professor at Seneca College, sees the benefits of FDK first-hand but says that the program has changed a lot since its inception.
  • “In the very beginning it was sort of a watered-down version of grade one, so a lot of pushing of the literacy and numbers, and now when I go out and see very play- and inquiry-based environments where children’s voices are heard and respected. I’m finding that it’s coming really far and I think it is really beneficial,” said Barbour.
  • The most rewarding, says Barbour, is the extra quality time teachers have with their students.
  • “I am finding that teachers don’t feel as much pressure to pressure the children in a full-day learning classroom, so it isn’t a big rush to get worksheets done,” she said. “The children are learning a lot more skills through play. They’re learning self-regulation, social skills, how to control their impulses and behaviour. I think those are the skills that are really essential for life-long learning.”

[End of excerpt]

(2) News regarding full day kindergarten as reported by The Globe and Mail

A March 28, 2014 Globe and Mail article on the same topic is entitled: “Full-day kindergarten offers little academic advantage, study says.”

Among other things, the article notes: “Full-day kindergartners did fare significantly better in their vocabulary and their ability to control their behaviour and engage in play-based tasks, important elements when it comes to child development, the study showed.”

The Globe article adds:

  • Janette Pelletier, a professor at OISE who led the new study, acknowledged that her findings, even though somewhat mixed, wouldn’t sit well with those in government who have made full-day kindergarten a signature initiative. But she added that it is naive to expect a new approach to learning to work smoothly during early implementation. Generally, she found that children who attended two years of full-day kindergarten were faring much better than their half-day peers right up until they entered Grade 1.
  • “I would say the challenge is to improve play-based programs that contribute to lasting change in things like writing and number knowledge. And we want to make sure that learning in Grades 1 and 2 builds on engaging learning in FDK,” Prof. Pelletier said.

[End of excerpt]

Angry Kids, Stressed Out Parents

I recently viewed, on CBC’s Doc Zone, a documentary entitled “Angry Kids, Stressed Out Parents.”

I was very impressed with the film, which focused on early intervention strategies that can help very young children learn to behave in socially acceptable ways.

Among other things, the video highlights the role that epigenesis plays in early childhood learning experiences – including in the course of early childhood intervention programs that teach children to regulate their own behaviour. The documentary also highlights the impressive return on investment, as expressed in dollar terms, associated with effective early childhood intervention programs.

A wide range of research suggests that individuals who have not learned to behave in socially acceptable ways in early childhood are prone, during their adolescent and adult years, to the commission of a large proportion of the crime and violence associated with their age cohort. If people in this category can learn, as a result of early childhood intervention programs, to mend their ways at an early stage of life, then we all benefit. We also reduce the costs associated with incarceration.

The research regarding full day kindergarten, as reported in the two above-noted articles, is in line with outcomes reported in the documentary.

The research cited in the full day kindergarten study, and in the documentary about early childhood learning experiences, is exciting and encouraging.

Updates

A May 16, 2015 New York Times article is entitled: “Let the Kids Learn Through Play.”

A March 16, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego: Toy company funds research suggesting educational development can be hindered by early formal schooling. So are UK schools getting it wrong?”

An Aug. 19, 2016 Brookings Institution article is entitled: “The long-term impact of the Head Start program.” The opening sentence reads: “A growing body of rigorous evidence suggests that policy interventions aimed at early childhood bear fruit for decades.”

An April 13, 2017 CBC The Current article is entitled: “Roughhousing benefits kids, suggests Quebec daycare guide.”

 

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