Nova Scotia

Youngest students need more time in school: minister

Nova Scotia's education minister is considering increasing the amount of daily instruction for students in early elementary school.

Primary to Grade 2 students now spend four hours a day in class

Nova Scotia's education minister is considering increasing the amount of daily instruction for students in early elementary school.

Right now, students in Primary to Grade 2 must have a minimum of four hours a day in class.

That compares to a minimum of five hours a day for most provinces, while in Alberta, young children attend school for six hours per day, Education Minister Ramona Jennex said Wednesday.

Tests of the reading, writing and math skills of Nova Scotia students in Grades 3 and 6 show deteriorating academic performance despite curriculum changes, Jennex said Wednesday.

"The challenge is our students aren't doing as well as we would like them to do," she said. "Our literacy and math levels have been declining over the last couple of years."

Minimum standards mean students in Primary to Grade 2 in Nova Scotia could receive 144 fewer teaching hours a year than students in Ontario.

The gap would be less for schools that offer 4.5 hours of teaching, such as in the Halifax Regional School Board, but Jennex said it's still an issue.

"Time on task, time for children to have more physical activity, we're on the lowest end in Canada in time spent in school. That's a conversation that we need to have with all of our partners," she said.

That conversation will start with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union and parents once the province releases its Education Plan expected next month.

The plan may reveal whether changes in teaching time would mean a longer day at school, Jennex said.

Studies do show kids are more physically active in school than they now are at home, she said. 

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