Early learning program offers key lessons to province

TORONTO, Nov. 26 /CNW/ - Research findings from the first nine years of Toronto First Duty, the program template for Ontario's recently announced full-day early learning initiative, offer important lessons for province-wide implementation of the plan.

A report on phase two of Toronto First Duty highlights the importance of getting the details right at the very beginning of the new program - especially investing in good working conditions for staff and optimal learning environments for children.

"The province's full-day early learning model hinges on a strong staff team of kindergarten teachers and early childhood educators," says principal researcher Carl Corter. "Our experience reinforces the importance of working conditions conducive to building the staff team right from the start."

Early directives from the Ministry of Education contain design flaws, which contradict the TFD research findings and the recommendations in the implementation report prepared for the government by Dr. Charles Pascal.

    
    Implementation challenges include:

    -   Government allocations for early childhood educators (ECEs) wages are
        insufficient and would mean a significant drop in salary for many
        ECEs, creating tensions within the working team and devaluing ECE
        professional skills;
    -   Working conditions that discourage the development of a strong
        teaching team could threaten the play-based nature of the program
        that is so important in early learning environments for young
        children;
    -   Offering extended day programming only during the 188 days that
        schools operate will create enormous challenges particularly for the
        77% of Ontario families with both parents in the paid workforce;
    -   A weak teaching team coupled with service hours that mitigate against
        integrated program delivery undermines parent engagement, an
        established factor in school success.
    

The report is available at: http://www.toronto.ca/firstduty/.

SOURCE TORONTO FIRST DUTY

For further information: For further information: Trish Hennessy, (416) 525-4927

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