What To Do If Full-Day Kindergarten Isn't Right For Your Child

This is a post from our sponsor Bells Corners Cooperative Nursery School. I've heard amazing things about their school, so check them out! September will mark the final year of Ontario’s roll out for full day junior and senior kindergarten, meaning kids as young as three will be heading off to school for at least 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Though this new programming may feel like a financial and logistical blessing for dual income families, a vast majority of parents are left feeling uncomfortable with their children’s ability or readiness to cope with institutional care for such long hours in their young life.

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While the actual benefits of full day kindergarden are being publicly and feverishly debated, these parents are still left on the sidelines scrambling to find alternatives - alternatives that will not only meet (or better, exceed) the educational milestones of the mainstream kindergarten curriculum, but nurture their child’s innate curiosity, instil a love of learning and celebrate their unique little personalities.

Bells Corners Co-operative Nursery School (BCCNS) provides an exceptional alternative or supplement to full-day kindergarten. Based on a core belief that every child and family has a right to a quality early years education and experience, BCCNS provides a unique and caring program that fosters hands on “learning through play” experiences specifically focused on developing self confident, life-long learners.

The program is staffed by experienced, passionate and educated teachers. “We maintain a cap of 16 students per 2 teachers to ensure adequate one on one time with each of the students on a daily basis.” says Chelsea Coe, Program Director at BCCNS. “The small class sizes also allows us to conduct special projects, exercises and experiments that would otherwise not be possible with a larger group of students. This means we are not only able to fulfill the curriculum standards set by the Ontario Ministry of Education, but we go above and beyond those requirements.”

If you live in the area and are looking at alternative care, contact BCCNS today!


Full day learning in junior kindergarten

by Amanda My son J is turning 5 this month.  This past September brought about a huge change in his life.  He started junior kindergarten (JK).  His school was one of the first to introduce Full Day Learning in JK.  I was concerned at first that this would be too much for such a little person.  I was worried that the afternoon might essentially be a waste because he would be too tired to learn anything since he was used to napping for at least 2 hours in the PMs.  I have been pleasantly surprised.  Maybe for the first month this was the case.  Most of the kids seemed to be falling asleep on the floor during quiet time and so was he, until about mid-October.  Around this time, he stopped napping altogether.  Instead, he was falling asleep in his dinner!  This lasted maybe for a couple of weeks and then it was done.  The nap was gone and he was fully adjusted to going to school full time.

He has come a long way in his learning since starting school.  It has been a really good experience for him.  He had good skills going in, he could identify most of the letters, could count at least to 15, and had no issues with speech and language as a preschooler.  His language developed, in my opinion, normally, once he started talking, there was no way to make him stop!

The curriculum has been very appropriate for him.

They have covered the different seasons:

They have learned the days of the week, months of the year and all major holidays.

They learned about animals and hibernation, migration, and adaptation.

His class learned about a foreign country - Guyana, and students were asked to bring in socks and shoes to donate since those items are not easily accessed in that country.

He is also really enjoying French time.  His articulation is really good and he has an amazing memory, so he is retaining many of the words he has learned.  We have two cats so he is quite fond of the words "chat et lion".

Mon gars, il adore les chansons en français ie."Tête, épaules, genoux, orteilles", et aussi il a bien aimé l'histoire "Petit poulet" que l'éducatrice a racontée.  Their most recent unit was all about fairy tales.  They watched the movie Rapunzel and J particularly enjoyed The Three Little Pigs.  From a science perspective, the kids had a presentation from "Scientists in Schools".  They did their own dinosaur dig, and got to see some experiments done in their classroom.  They watched things change colour and change states of matter.  J was super excited to tell me all about it when he came home that day.

On the social side of things, he has made some friends, loves to play Transformers with his two buddies during recess, he attended one birthday party and will soon be having one of his own.  At this point in time he is an only child, so I am thrilled that he is getting the hang of being around lots of kids and learning to communicate with them and problem-solve their day to day issues.  They have learned about Kelso's Choices, a problem-solving strategy for kids to use.  His teachers are telling me that he is using these strategies when a conflict arises, so I am quite happy about that.

As the end of the school year approaches he is now able to read Level 1 books with only some minor difficulties.  He can write his name not too badly, and is interested now more than ever in making crafts.  Before starting school he definitely did not have the attention span for those kinds of things.

Overall, as a parent, I really think the full day learning has been really good for my son. He was ready to go to school.  He is a like a little sponge and he just takes things and runs with them.  And he remembers what he has learned.  Like any other kid he needs some help and some prompts, but I am really glad to see that he has progressed this far and am very hopeful that SK will bring a similar experience.


Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

Kids in the Capital: Call for Events

by Karen We're calling on our community a LOT this year! We hope you enjoy and find the changes we're implementing to be very useful.

Our latest announcement is one that I am quite excited about. The Kids in the Capital blog focuses on events and activities that families have done and who want to share their experience with the community.

We want to enhance our offering to provide information about upcoming events in the Ottawa area so we've created a brand-new Events page!

This page is going to be community curated. If you know of something that's going on that would be of interest to families with children of all ages, we'd love for you to share it with us for the community. (There's a form below the calendar with all the fields of information we need to know.)

Given the awesomely active community that we have around Kids in the Capital, I'm certain that this calendar will become a go to resource for family-friendly fun in Ottawa!

And we thank you all for your help!

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KIC Gives Back: Youville Centre & Kindness Week

Every month here at Kids in the Capital, we want to highlight an opportunity to give back to the greater Ottawa community, particularly when there are families in need. This month, we've chosen to be part of a campaign to raise awareness of the Youville Centre's work for Ottawa during Kindness Week. We hope that you'll enjoy learning more about this organization and how you can help! by Diana

On a snowy day in early January, I had the opportunity join two other women, Karen Wilson of Karen's Chronicles, and Andrea Tomkins of A Peek Inside the Fishbowl, for a tour of the Youville Centre on Mann Avenue in Ottawa, in honour of Kindness Week. Youville Centre is “an innovative centre that motivates, educates and nurtures young parents and their children to become contributing members of society.” It’s a centre that fills a genuine and important need by providing high-risk teen mothers with education, child care and support, mental health services, and assistance in linking to various community resources to help them build the skills to move forward with their lives withself-confidence and self-worth. In helping the young mothers, Youville is helping their children, which can be a powerful and lasting way to bring that small family unit in a direction towards growth and positivity it might otherwise have not. This is how a family’s cycle of abuse, neglect, poverty can be changed for the better.

First impression of Youville Centre is of a bright, clean, open space. It’s located in a renovated school building, which seems to suit its needs well. While there’s a dedicated and well-trained staff, it’s clear that volunteers have an important role as well. We were met by Heather Heagney, the communications officer. We began the tour. Our first stop was the gymnasium, which serves as kitchen and cafeteria, large play room for the toddlers, and sorting area for donations. As we continued the tour, we saw the classrooms, which include a kitchen, allowing the teens to learn how to prepare and cook food, a valuable life skill. We saw the counseling rooms and the baby wing, where the children, from tiny nurslings to toddlers, are cared for, fed and taught. If the mother is nursing her baby, she may have leave to come to feed her baby whenever the baby is hungry.

Youville exists in co-operation with a number of community organizations: businesses that provide work-place training, clinics and centres that provide legal, health, education, housing and job-placement services, and local colleges, technical learning centres and universities. There are grant-funded support services as well, such as bursaries provided to both Youville alumnae and to former Youville students’ children for post-secondary education. In providing these community connections and services, Youville provides continuing “after Youville” support to the young women and their children.

Youville couldn’t exist without the support of volunteers and donors, both financial gifts and “gift in kind” – the gift of your time. Please check out Youville’s website to learn about the story behind the centre, to see more photos of the women and children who have benefitted from Youville’s services and to find out how you can get involved.


Diana Coote is a co-owner of Onya Baby, a family-owned company that believes in family, in connectedness and in adventure. The Onya Baby philosophy is that parents can include their babies in everyday life and and show their babies the world. The products that they make are designed to complement the family bond and free parents to live life more fully with their children.

Registering for Kindergarten

by Lara It's hard for me to believe that it's already been two years since I first had to register my son for school, or that I'm only a year away from doing it for my twins.  But we all get there and suddenly our babies are ready to go to school!

February tends to be the time that most schools start accepting registration for September - are you prepared?

There are four public school boards to choose from and most have open houses where you can go in and meet the teachers and ask questions about the programs.  The boards are:

English Public: Information on Kindergarten registration.  To find the school in your area.

English Catholic: Information on Kindergarten registration.  To find the school in your area.

French Public : Open house list for 2012 (some have already passed but many haven't yet) To find the school in your area.

French Catholic: Information on registering.  To find the school in your area.

For some the choice on which school to send their kids to is clear, for others there's a little more decision making involved.

We chose to send our son to the French Public board. Although my husband doesn't speak much French and we only speak English at home, I learned French by attending elementary school in French and felt it was the best way for my children to learn as well.  Although it took almost six months for Kiernan to really start feeling comfortable in French, in his second year of full-day French school he is thriving.

Are you ready for school registration? What school board did you choose for your kids?

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