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Belleville Christian School launches full-time kindergarten

Written on July 29th, 2009

Principal attributes increased school enrolment partly to change

Belleville Christian School (BCS) is launching a full-time kindergarten program this year and principal Jennifer Richmond says she believes the change is at least part of the reason for the school’s increased enrolment.

The school has initiated the full-time option largely in response to requests from existing families.

With many parents both working, the option allows them to provide a more seamless environment for their children, reducing the need to switch between daycare and school throughout the week.

“The advantage of a full-time program is realized best in children who currently have multiple caregivers,” Richmond states in a press release.

But she says there are other benefits of full-time kindergarten, as pilot programs in both public and Christian schools are revealing. Reports on the pilots state that full-time attendees are demonstrating greater gains, in the short term at least, in areas such as early reading skills, vocabulary and social skills.

Of the 18 kindergarten students enroled for Sept. at BCS, 11 of them have been placed in the full-time program.

The kindergarten curriculum will follow existing guidelines, which are geared to a part time schedule, with the additional days offering “more of the same,” says Richmond.

But the expectation is that the school’s new kindergarten teacher, Laurie Tuckey, who helped develop the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools Kindergarten Resource Manual and has more than 16 years experience teaching at the primary level, will use this year to begin to determine what a full-time program needs to look like.

“There is no prescribed curriculum at this time, in the public or Christian schools, for a full-time kindergarten program,” says Richmond.

BCS is ahead of the curve with this initiative as Ontario’s public education system has announced a switch to full-time senior kindergarten beginning in September 2010.

Richmond notes the school is opening with more students than last year, despite graduating 10 in June.

“I do attribute at least some of that increase to the full-time kindergarten,” she says.