Final steps are being taken to introduce a new play-based curriculum for kindergarten in schools across the province.

And in most schools in the Rainbow District School Board in Sudbury, an early learning programs is now in place — with the transition to be complete in September.

Teachers team up with early childhood educators for this approach, said Sharon Speir, superintendent of the board. She added the program helps develop children's confidence and problem-solving skills.

“We really understand and recognize the importance of play and how young children's brains work,” she said.

“They're always making connections. It's a huge time for learning vocabulary. It's a huge time for working with conceptual knowledge. They're trying to figure out ‘how does the world work?’”

Watchdog group, People for Education, said children are doing well in assessments.

Spokesperson Annie Kidder said some schools have done a better job than others by integrating daycare into the schools.

But she said generally she supports the early learning program.

“Kids that have had the full two years — which some kids have now — are doing better on those general assessments of their development,” she said.

Learning to problem solve

The Rainbow board in Sudbury is almost finished fine-tuning its curriculum for kindergarten.        

The Board started offering full-day junior kindergarten four years ago.

Over at Princess Anne School, Tara Thall teaches the early learning program to her class of four- and five-year olds, which she does with the help of an early childhood educator.

In her classroom, the children's experiences during play form the basis for learning.

For instance, her students were outside one day making snowmen and snowballs.

The next day the snow had changed.

“And they were upset they couldn't roll the balls and make snowmen and so we asked them why that may be,” she recalled.

Thall said that interaction led to interesting speculation from the children on the sun's effect on snow.

Teachable moments like these help children learn to problem-solve, take risks and develop confidence, Thall said.