Nfld. & Labrador

Full-day kindergarten ready to roll out across N.L.

Building renovations, classroom preparations and teacher training are all on track for a Sept. 7 start, says the province's English school district.

First time students will attend classes all day, province wide

Kindergarten students across the province will be spending the entire school day in the classroom as of Sept. 7. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Kindergarten students in Newfoundland and Labrador will mark a historic milestone on Sept. 7, when they begin attending full-day classes, province wide, for the first time.

"All the work has been done to start full-day kindergarten," said Newfoundland and Labrador English School District CEO Darrin Pike. 

A big chunk of the work was getting the infrastructure in place, Pike said, with about $30 million earmarked by the province to get everything ready. 

Darrin Pike says there was a $30 million budget to get infrastructure ready for full-day kindergarten. (CBC)

Two things had to change significantly: buildings and classrooms. In some cases the renovations were major; other spaces needed only minor physical alterations. 

"We have four major extensions in schools. 12 schools have received modular classrooms, that were added at the schools. And there were about 100 smaller projects," said Pike.

Those small projects included everything from a wall going up to installing washrooms, and even though they were considered minor, it took two summers to complete all the work. 

Not just about the ABCs

An additional $2 million was pumped into resources to get the classrooms up to snuff for full-day learning.

Educators call those resources 'manipulatives' — things like blocks, puppet studios, art areas, reading areas, toys, and dress up clothes — all designed to support learning.

"One thing about full-day kindergarten versus half-day, it's not a change in what the teachers do. It's really about the teachers being able to allow more time for the students to engage in the material," said Pike.

"Because full-day kindergarten is not just about the ABCs and the 1-2-3s. It's about the social skills you develop, the learning skills you develop, the self-monitoring skills you develop." 

Kindergarten students will have more reading areas, toys and other materials to use during their full days in the classroom. (CBC)

'We'll be ready'

Additional kindergarten teachers have been hired, and they're scheduled for professional development this fall, according to Pike. Those who were already in the kindergarten system received that training this spring.

The new additional labour bill for the teachers and student assistants is $13 million, annually. 

"We'll be ready." said Pike, with an added caution. 

"With any school opening, at the beginning there will be a few bumps. and unexpected things can occur. Especially when you're fully operational for the full day for the first time."

Pike also admitted there will no doubt be some operational and minor infrastructure issues on Sept. 7, but overall the teachers and principals are ready. 

About the Author

Cec Haire

Reporter

Cec Haire reports for CBC News from St. John's.

now