Saskatchewan's French school board is offering full-time pre-kindergarten at five of its schools, a move that is pleasing parents.
The pre-kindergarten program provides instruction tailored for the very young, mostly around four years old.
The unique component is that youngsters will be at school from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. five days a week.
"She loved it," parent David McGrane said about his four-year-old daughter's experience with the full-time program. "She was completely happy with it. She talked about the things she was doing, painting, [and] the new children she had met."
McGrane's daughter attends pre-kindergarten in Saskatoon, at École canadienne-française.
The school board, Conseil des écoles fransaskoises, is also offering the program at four other schools, in Regina, Lloydminster, Bellegarde and Vonda.
The children spend the full day with French-only instruction.
While pre-kindergarten classes do exist in many schools across the province, most are not for a full day nor five days per week.
Many experts say pre-kindergarten programs are important for children and help prepare them for grade one.
The Saskatoon Health Region recently found, in a study, that one in three kindergarten students were not ready for grade one.
The region's chief medical health officer says investing in education on the very young pays off over a lifetime, from better graduation rates to a lower probability of crime.
"For every dollar you put into pre-k, you tend to save five dollars in other types of services through the next 40 years of that child's life," Dr. Cory Neudorf told CBC News.
The school board is funding the expanded program on its own, with no extra money from the province.