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!


Preparing for the First Day of School

by Jayda

The first day of school preparations are in full swing. My oldest son, JWS, will start half-day senior kindergarten in September. Here, in Ontario there are two grades of kindergarten: junior kindergarten (JK) and senior kindergarten (SK). Junior kindergarten begins at age 4 and senior kindergarten at age 5. Since we did not live in Canada last year, this will be the first year JWS has attended school.

We are all having mixed emotions about this milestone.


We are anxious about the unknown. For JWS this is the unknown of what to expect. He has never met his teacher, seen his classroom, or taken a school bus. He doesn't know any of the other children in his class.

For me,  it is the unknown of how will he 'do'. Will he like it? Will his teacher and peers talk to him and treat him in a loving, kind way? Will he be bored, discouraged, or will he be stimulated and eager?

What will the days look like, for LLS and I at home? Will LLS be lost without his big brother or will he embrace the time to himself/with me ?


JWS is excited to go to school to learn some 'stuff'. He has been counting down the days.

I am excited for JWS to experience school. I am excited for him to make new friends, learn new skills and have experiences independent from home.


I am certain he will do very well at school. He is a confident child. He easily makes new friends at the playground. I am proud of him and the wonderful, kind, loving, inquisitive 5-year-old he is today. I am proud of us (his parents) for our parenting philosophies that I believe have shaped him and fostered his confidence.

Here are some of the things we did to prepare for the first day of school:

1. We made a routine folder. I took photos of JWS doing all the things he will need to do (eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, play, eat lunch, put on shoes/coat) in order to get ready for school. Luckily, this year, we have all morning, since he is going to afternoon, half-day kindergarten. I will let him choose the order that he wants to do them in. This will be a nice visual reminder of what he has done and what needs to be done. He is a visual learner.

2. We attended our school district school bus safety course for first time riders. JWS is still undecided if he want to take the bus to school or not. I wanted him to be prepared, whatever his decision. He was very excited about the bus. This course alone relieved a lot of his anxiety.

3. We went school shopping (supplies and indoor shoes), just the two of us. To my surprise he is very possessive over his supplies and very happy to use it everyday. He likes to practice writing the letters, something he learned on his own.

4. And finally, we drove the bus route to his school and played on the playground and spied in the classroom windows.

Are your memories of school influencing how you portray school to your children or how you prepare them for school? Sometimes I catch myself projecting my emotions on JWS. This is how I felt therefore he must feel this way to. I have to stop myself and allow him to have his own feelings, positive or negative.

What did you do to prepare for the first day of school?

Jayda Siggers is a Mom of 2 ( JWS, 6 and LLS, 4), a nutritionist, a coach at Clean Plate Cleanse, a master mediator living under a co-dictatorship, whole food advocate, trying to live a little greener everyday.

To School Or Not To School

by Nicki Do I send Liam to junior kindergarten or not?  That is a question that has been on my mind for quite some time.  For many parents there really isn't a decision to be made.

My son was born on Christmas Day, 2008, this means that Liam is eligible to start Junior Kindergarten this September at only 3 years and 8 months old.

For us, this makes the decision very difficult.  Do we send him this year, based on his age?  Do we wait another year?  If we do, should he start in Junior Kindergarten or Senior Kindergarten?

If he does go this year, I worry about it being too much for him on many levels at such a young age.  The structure, the independence in self help skills (including using the bathroom), the long days without a nap, can a three year old cope with these things?  Not to mention such a small child riding on the school bus.

If we do wait until next year, which is what we are leaning towards right now, where do we put him?  JK where he will be the oldest and in theory most advanced in the class?  Or SK where he will be the youngest but still with kids born the same year as him.  Will he be too advanced and bored if we start him in JK?  But at the same time, he could be too far behind if we start him in SK.  Either way, our decision will effect his whole school career.  Thinking way into the future, if he starts JK this year as a 3 year old, he will be due to go off to college or university at only 17! Looking back, there was no way I could have gone off to college at 17!!!

Really, I know there is no right or wrong answer to this dilemma.  it is one of those things that every family with an end of the year baby has to make for themselves.  However, I would love to know how other people have handled this issue.  Please share your experiences as a parent or as a teacher!

Nicki is mom to 3 year old Liam.  She is an ECE,  who loves to garden, scrapbook, write and take photos. She blogs about the randomness that is her life at Perils of a Working Mom

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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Encouraging Young Writers: Make a Writing Caddy

by Valancy

Whenever I am writing a grocery list, my kids love to highjack my pen and paper and fill the page with their own scribbles. My son, who is four, enjoys making his own lists and telling me what each scribble means (usually his favourite foods that he wants to buy at the store). My daughter, who has just turned two, specializes in covering up my own words with ink first, and then filling the rest of the page with loops or a series of vertical lines.

I know that this enthusiasm for making their own marks is an important precursor to literacy and writing skills, and I’ve read the expert advice that says to encourage these developing skills by making writing materials readily available. The thought of toddlers and preschoolers with free access to Crayola can strike fear in the hearts of parents. Especially those with white couches. I had never really shared that worry when firstborn my son was younger, as he was naturally cautious and was very good about keeping his art more or less on the paper. His younger sister, on the other hand, tends to be a bit more carefree and experimental. I have to admit that over the past year or so I’ve reserved crayons and markers for supervised craft time exclusively, and then only in locations with surfaces from which crayon and maker are easily washed off.

However, now that my two-year-old daughter can (usually) be trusted not to draw on the walls and the furniture, I figure it is time to have some writing and drawing materials available whenever the kids wanted to use them. Looking around the internet for some inspiration on how to best organize the supplies and make them easy to access for the kids, I discovered this lovely writing caddy from PlayfulLearning.com

I love the fact that everything is neatly contained and organized, and the caddy is portable, so the kids could use it wherever they were inspired to write – at their own kid table in the family room, the coffee table in the living room, the kitchen counter, etc.

While you can buy this caddy, stocked or empty, directly from PlayfulLearning.com, it is a bit out of my budget. As a more affordable alternative, I bought an inexpensive cutlery caddy, and stocked it with art supplies that I already had on hand. I found this great bamboo caddy on Amazon.ca, which was perfect because it had one long cubby that is perfect for storing paper.  (Tip: if looking online try searching for “cutlery” or “flatware” caddy.)

I did splurge and purchased some high quality children’s pencil crayons. These Lyra Ferby pencil crayons are short and fat, which makes them easy for small hands to grab, and the triangular shape is recommended by preschool and kindergarten teachers to encourage the development of the proper pincer grip. According to the manufacturer, these pencil crayons are also supposed to have rich colour lay-down and be resistant to breaking, and so far they’ve been living up to those promises. They really are lovely to draw with; they feel so silky on the page. I ordered mine online, but you can also find them locally in Ottawa at 3 Little Monkeys .

I also stocked the caddy with some small empty notebooks, loose paper, envelopes, old Easter Seals and World Wildlife Fund stamps, and other “treasures” from my stationary drawer. To help my son, who is starting junior kindergarten this year, practice his letters, I also found some free letter sheet printables online. (See below for links.)

Both kids loved their new writing caddy right away, and have been using it regularly since.  Even my 26-month old will pull it off the shelf herself when she wants to draw, and both she and her big brother have been surprising good about returning the crayons and markers to the caddy after using them. There have been a few incidents with an uncapped marker too near the couch, but it really has been only a few times. Thank goodness for washable markers and easy to clean microfiber!

Free alphabet printables:

Uppercase & alphabet charts at PlayfulLearning.net: http://www.playfulearning.com/Playful_Learning/Writing_Playful_Learning_Experiences.html

Learning ABC’s worksheets from Classroomjr.com: http://www.classroomjr.com/learning-abc/

Individual letter alphabet handwriting practice sheets from Mywaytoo.com: http://www.mywaytoo.com/Pages/alphabet.html

Block printing alphabet practice worksheets from k12reader.com: http://www.k12reader.com/handwriting-practice-worksheets-block-style-print/

Traceable alphabet worksheets for preschoolers from Kidslearningstation.com: http://www.kidslearningstation.com/preschool/teach-printing.asp

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