A kindergarten teacher helps a child learn to count


You Undermine Kindergarten Teachers When You Call Them ‘Babysitters’ and ‘Free Daycare’

Mar 29, 2019

Earlier this year, the Ontario provincial government announced it was considering getting rid of full-day kindergarten. The outcry was pretty much immediate. For all of the hemming and hawing people did when the full-day program was first introduced back in 2010, there was a definite "nooooooooooooooooo" across my newsfeed at the suggestion of getting rid of it.

There was, of course, a lot of glee, too. I, for one, have always been a fan, but full-day kindergarten has always had its share of critics. I went to public school in the morning and private school in the afternoon as a kindergartner. Full days for me, 35 years ago. 

Kids can handle the full days. I was hardly extraordinary. The fact is, we underestimate our kids by practice. So, I wasn’t overly surprised by the number of people who thought their kids could not. What I was surprised by then, and continue to see come up again in the wake of the threat to nix the program, was the references to kindie as free daycare (daycare — another profession I believe receives nowhere near the recognition it deserves), and the reference to the teachers in the classroom as babysitters.

Relevant Reading: I Thought I Might Have What It Takes To Be A Kindergarten Teacher — But I Was Wrong

They are educators.

Every teacher in your child’s classroom went to university. If they are teaching your children in kindergarten, they can also teach them in grade six. Because they’re teachers. They don’t turn off their education the second they walk into a room of four-year-olds.

On a typical day in a kindergarten classroom, children learn about problem solving, creative thinking, critical thinking, social skills, self-help skills, fine motor skills, literacy (letters and sound and reading), math (numbers, counting), art, music and movement, outdoor education, appreciation for the outdoors, gross motor skills and on and on and on and on and on. There is a curriculum. There are expectations. There is education going on each and every day.

People see the words 'play-based education' and some put on blinders that the word 'education’ is there at all. Kids learn best through play. It doesn’t mean they’re not learning just because the curriculum is speaking to them in a way that makes the most sense for their brain development and age.

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Kindergarten teachers are expected to teach a relatively new curriculum, to a class room filled with hyper, loud, antsy, snotty (let’s be real — there’s a lot of snot in kindie) little kids. They are expected to teach these kids the curriculum and set them up for success in grade one. They went to school to become teachers and spend their day teaching, only to be called babysitters.

So do me and all kindergarten teachers a favour and stop suggesting kindergarten is “free daycare.”

I’m endlessly grateful for the educators in my kids’ kindie classrooms for teaching them and inspiring them to be successful in school. And I’m endlessly disappointed to hear anyone undervalue how much they do and how hard they work every single day to educate our youngest school children.

Article Author Leslie Kennedy
Leslie Kennedy

Leslie is a professional writer and editor and mother to two kids who keep her on her toes. When she's not at her computer typing away, Leslie enjoys hitting the yoga mat (a new passion!) or discovering new shows to serial-watch with her husband.

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