Public School Kindergarten in Ontario - A Historical Perspective
Beginning in 1883, Ontario was the first, and for many decades the only province in Canada that has continuously provided kindergarten as part of a public education. In 2010, Ontario made another innovative policy decision and introduced a new model of kindergarten, the Full-Day Early Learning–Kindergarten program (FDELK), extended to a two-year, full day play-based program instructed by a team of educators including a kindergarten teacher and an early childhood educator. Ontario is a leader in Canada in the field of publicly funded early childhood education and represents an interesting case of a program that has gone through many stages before reaching its current point. The success in establishing kindergarten may offer compelling evidence leading to changes to early years education policy in other jurisdictions. Although Ontario’s kindergarten has an almost 150 year history, it is scarcely represented in literature, especially its development between the 1960s and 2010. This thesis will attempt to fill this gap by analysing selected documents to trace the development of Ontario’s public kindergarten from its inception to the current FDELK, and will identify the evolving characteristics of kindergarten, trends, and paradigmatic changes in the analyzed period by using a longue durée approach and Quentin Skinner’s theoretical framework and his theory of interpretation. Using this method, this study explores the historical and intellectual foundations of the FDELK, power dynamics influencing the development of kindergarten, and the intersection of political agendas, ideologies, and economic and pragmatic considerations.