The advent of free kindergarten is slowly being implemented across Ontario. While any increase in educational opportunities for children is a good thing, when compared to the Toddler and Casa programs at KMS, the play based kindergarten program does not come close to offering what KMS offers the preschool aged child.
The work of Montessori was originally based on engaging children at an early age. Maria Montessori developed a program for children ages three, four and five that allowed them to learn to read, develop strong mathematical concepts and be engaged in their world around them. Montessori emphasized that children want meaningful work and it is through this work that they realize their full potential.
Despite lobbying by the Montessori movement in Ontario, the provincial government chooses to ignore the incredible programs already providing children the skills, knowledge and experiences they really need. Instead, a play based program has been introduced to allow children to “get ready” for school. Children are ready to learn much younger that the province gives them credit for.
There’s a reason that it’s not uncommon for our four year olds to count to a thousand and be adding single digits numbers by age five. In the kindergarten program the goal is for children to understand numbers to 20. KMS five year olds are often taking home small books to read with mom and dad at home. The kindergarten program’s goal is to “introduce” them to sounds and stories. In many ways the kindergarten program shortchanges the child by not providing challenging work at this critical time.
Maria Montessori referred to this time as the “absorbent mind,” when the child can learn incredible amounts if the environment is rich in materials and experiences to allow them to grow and learn. A noisy room in a play-based environment is not the kind of environment that promotes independent work and good study habits. At KMS we know that our Casa students are developing concentration and good work habits as they explore the rich materials in the classroom.
The best investment we can make as parents is to invest our money early in a child’s education. Money spent at the front end is far more effective in creating positive outcomes than money spent on an older child.
KMS Casa and Toddler programming remains a tax-deductible expense. Parents should look closely at the incredible differences between the KMS Casa program and the “free” kindergarten because the “free” kindergarten programs have significant costs.