Local CEO urges business community to support full-day kindergarten

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Cathy Bennett. — File photo

Businesswoman Cathy Bennett is urging the local business community to support full-day kindergarten.

In a lunchtime address to the St. John’s Board of Trade, Bennett — CEO of the Bennett Group of companies, with interests in the restaurant, construction and property industries — told a packed house at the Holiday Inn that the best way to help children in the province reach their full potential is full-day senior and junior kindergarten.

“Overall research findings favour full-day kindergarten over the half-day program we have now,” she said. “These studies suggest that full-day kindergarten is especially effective for children who are socially or educationally mismanaged. There are also a few studies which found that children who attend full-day kindergarten are less likely to enrol in special-education classes. And there is not one study that I can find which demonstrates a single academic or social advantage to restricting children to half-day kindergarten.”

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael, on hand for the luncheon, said she was delighted to hear Bennett’s speech.

“Most social programs and most social issues due have an economic side to them, and you can build a really positive business case for most social programs, and what she did here today was just wonderful.”

The Conservative government has been studying the benefit — and cost — of full-day kindergarten. Education Minister Clyde Jackman told the Telegram last week that while the government hasn’t arrived at a final cost estimate, he believes full-day kindergarten will one day be implemented.

“I suspect at some point we are going to have full-day kindergarten,” he said Feb. 6. “We are looking at it seriously as a government, based on sound educational practice. It’s something that I can conceivably say I think we will be entering into.”

Jackman said the problem of cost isn’t as much about annual cost but about the extra classrooms the school system would need.

Sharon Horan, the senior vice-chairwoman of the Board of Trade, commended Bennett’s remarks.

“We need to make that link and make people realize that as we improve the education system of our youth, when we improve the opportunities for our young people who are working to have access to good day care and not worry about where their children are and who’s picking them up at 12 o’clock, that this is really good, not only from a social context but from a business context as well,” she said.

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com, Twitter: @TelegramDaniel

Organizations: Board of Trade, Bennett Group, Holiday Inn

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  • Ryan
    February 18, 2013 - 23:15

    As an educator I believe that we do indeed need better parenting before children come to kindergarten. I do not agree that children should suffer from "bad" parenting and that all children should have equal opportunities to learn. Early intervention is key in children's development especially when it comes to literacy ( A focus in Kindergarten). Research supports that children need early intervention when it comes to reading development, and in my opinion, a half day is not enough intervention in a lot of cases.

  • Ryan
    February 18, 2013 - 23:12

    As an educator I believe that we do indeed need better parenting before children come to kindergarten. I do not agree that children should suffer from "bad" parenting and that all children should have equal opportunities to learn. Early intervention is key in children's development especially when it comes to literacy ( A focus in Kindergarten). Research supports that children need early intervention when it comes to reading development, and in my opinion, a half day is not enough intervention in a lot of cases.

  • Leah
    February 13, 2013 - 07:38

    Three and four year olds are too young to be at school for a full day. Years back when we lived in Toronto, my son started Junior Kindergarten, half days, at age three because he didn't turn four until December. I didn't agree with it. They need a little more time to connect with their parents, siblings, discover trust, feel secure in their own surroundings, etc., before being forced to attend school full days. One or two play-dates a week, and associating with other young children in their neighbourhood, is enough at this age. Like someone said, it's basically free babysitting at the "expense" of your child's emotional stability.

  • Wendy
    February 12, 2013 - 18:13

    FREE BABYSITTING.

  • marg hancock
    February 12, 2013 - 17:40

    as a retired educator I wonder what university education program did Cathy Bennett attend/graduate. This is just a ruse for working parents to have the tax-payer pay for THEIR child-care. What we need are good parents and good parenting. Children suffer separation anxiety, attention deficits and the lists goes on ----not to mention violent behaviour and illnesses of all kinds Stick to business and stay out of education

  • steve
    February 12, 2013 - 17:19

    This is great - I would be willing to pay more taxes to pay for this.

  • The Irony of Only A High School Diploma
    February 12, 2013 - 16:24

    Ms. Bennett does not include in her remarks the necessity to the the Teacher's Union onside with this pipe dream. If education is so important to Ms. Bennett, why didn't she undertake to get more of it?