An Investigation of the Features and Effectiveness of the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program in Ontario
Youmans, Alexandra S.
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This dissertation includes two studies. Study 1 is a qualitative case study that describes enactment of the main components of a high fidelity Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten (FDELK) classroom, specifically play-based learning and teacher-ECE collaboration. Study 2 is a quantitative analysis that investigates how effectively the FDELK program promotes school readiness skills, namely self-regulation, literacy, and numeracy, in Kindergarteners. To describe the main components of an FDELK classroom in Study 1, a sub-sample of four high fidelity case study schools were selected from a larger case study sample. Interview data from these schools’ administrators, educators, parents, and community stakeholders were used to describe how the main components of the FDELK program enabled educators to meet the individual needs of students and promote students’ SR development. In Study 2, hierarchical regression analyses of 32,207 students’ self-regulation, literacy, and numeracy outcomes using 2012 Ontario Early Development Instrument (EDI) data revealed essentially no benefit for students participating in the FDELK program when compared to peers in Half-Day or Alternate-Day Kindergarten programs. Being older and female predicted more positive SR and literacy outcomes. Age and gender accounted for limited variance in numeracy outcomes. Results from both studies suggest that the Ontario Ministry of Education should take steps to improve the quality of the FDELK program by incorporating evidence-based guidelines and goals for play, reducing Kindergarten class sizes to more effectively scaffold learning, and revising curriculum expectations to include a greater focus on SR, literacy, and numeracy skills.