The new Kindergarten program is a child-centered, developmentally appropriate, integrated program of learning for four-and five-year-old children. The purpose of the program is to establish a strong foundation for learning in the early years, and to do so in a safe and caring, play-based environment that promotes the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of all children (The Kindergarten Program, Pg. 8). The main goals of the Kindergarten program are: to establish foundations for learning in the early years; to help children make a smooth transition from home, child care, or preschool settings to school settings; to allow children to reap the many proven benefits of learning through relationships, and through play and inquiry; to set children on a path of lifelong learning and nurture competencies that they will need to thrive in the world of today and tomorrow.
The program is set up so that the students become and are ready to take ownership of their own learning. This isn’t an entirely new concept, however it has become the main concept of the Kindergarten classroom; the point being to allow students to learn how to self regulate, become socially competent, create own curiosities and to be confident in learning. I am nervous as a new teacher with the idea of the Kindergarten classroom to mostly be inquiry based. I am nervous about being an educator who works as a co-learner in the classroom. Within these past couple of weeks, working in our groups for our visual journals, it has become clear to me how I can take paint and ask/find curriculum related subject questions for students. For example, putting paint in vinegar we noticed the paint becomes clumpy, all of a sudden were discussing the differences between a solid and a liquid which relates to the science curriculum. It is discoveries like this that let me believe students will learn a whole range of topics and ideas that they will eventually cover from curriculum documents in other grades. What makes me nervous is how I going to know what questions to ask? How to keep their interests alive? How to make sure they are getting something out of their inquiry based play? Making sure that when they arrive to a Gr.1 classroom, will they be okay? The program document does help to answer my questions by saying: “When programs are founded on the image of the child and when educators apply knowledge and learning gained through external and classroom research, early learning programs in Ontario, including Kindergarten programs, can establish a strong foundation for learning and create a learning environment that allows all children to grow and to learn in their unique, individual ways” (Kindergarten Program, Pg.11). It’s about knowing as a teacher when to apply our knowledge from experiences and how to apply it to a student’s inquiry.
I found the misconceptions section of the new document to be very helpful. It clearly explains the differences between previous understandings and the new ideals and modern changes. For example, on Pg. 27 the program explains the misconceptions for Play Based Learning and how people perceive it as merely play. However, it is so much more then allowing children to play, I’m starting to really understand this through our visual journal explorations and reviewing the Kindergarten Program document.
The Kindergarten Program 2016