Full day kindergarten is available in all public elementary schools across Ontario, and that means kids will not only attend kindergarten all day, they will also follow a play-based curriculum

What is Play-Based Learning? 

It has long been known that there is a strong link between play and learning. Children are full of natural curiosity and they explore this curiosity through play. When kids are playing, it's the perfect time to learn.

Play teaches kids how to problem solve, how to make friends, how to express themselves, how to enjoy the world around them, and how to recognize letters and numbers. All of these skills form the foundation of a love of learning. 

In the full-day kindergarten program, teachers and early childhood educators structure play to create learning moments. While children play, they’ll chat with their friends, and figure out how to stop their block tower from falling. They'll draw pictures and role play. And they'll tell stories, and sit quietly to listen to others. All of these activities help kids develop, learn, and eventually acquire the skills that they will need in grade one and beyond.   

How is this curriculum different from the old version? 

Since classes are led by an early childhood educator (ECE) and a certified teacher, the curriculum has been changed to incorporate both the old kindergarten style, with learning areas and expectations, along with a more informal set of teaching tips used by early learning professionals.   

What are the six key learning areas and what do they mean?
  • Personal and social development
  • Language
  • Math
  • Science and technology
  • Health and Physical Activity
  • Arts
Personal and Social Development 

This is the Ministry’s way of trying to level the playing field. Kids come into the school system with a broad range of experiences. Some come from preschool and are used to being around kids while others come from the home and have never had to share a toy in their lives. Some already know their alphabet, while others have no idea what school is. For some kids, a school environment is a huge change from what they’re used to. In the grades ahead, they will need to learn to work with others and work well on their own.   
By the end of kindergarten, children should be able to:

  • Give compliments and accept different points of view.
  • Wait their turn, share, and listen to what others have to say.
  • Recognize when someone else is upset and show empathy. For example, tell an adult when another child is hurt or role-play emotions with toys.
  • Problem-solve to help themselves and others.
  • Play and work with other children. For example, offering to help others, listening to their friends.
  • Show that they are beginning to understand that there are consequences to actions.
  • Know some things about the world around them. For example, that farmers live on farms, that some kids live in the country and some live in apartments.
  • Talk about their heritage or cultural background.
  • Know their likes and dislikes, express their thoughts, and recognize their own accomplishments.

Listening, speaking, reading and writing are all connected. Knowing how to use words to express themselves helps children build the vocabulary they will need to read and write.  
By the end of kindergarten, children should be able to:

  • Talk and listen to you, their teacher and their friends.
  • Use facial expressions and gestures that match what they are saying.
  • Talk about what they think and feel.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Retell stories or talk about events in proper order.
  • Show that they understand books that are read to them by retelling the stories and reading aloud.
  • Try to read and make sense of what they are reading.
  • Try to write simple messages.

Kindergarten kids will not be expected to use protractors or solve pi. Instead, they will learn how to count, take measurements, and problem-solve in an age-appropriate and fun way.  
By the end of kindergarten, children should be able to:

  • Show that they understand that numbers are used for counting and measuring and that numbers and quantities can get bigger or smaller.
  • Count to ten.
  • Measure and compare length, weight, temperature and size of different objects. For example, they can line up toys from the smallest to the biggest or measure how many steps it takes to get across the room.
  • Compare two and three-dimensional objects and sort them. For example, they know the difference between a rectangle and a triangle and they can sort the rectangles by size.
  • Make out patterns in words and objects. For example, they will know what comes next if the pattern is one nail, two buttons, three beads, one nail, two buttons and three beads.
  • Group objects together based on size, shape, or colour. For example, they will pile all their pink teddy bears together and put the blue teddy bears in a different pile.
Science and Technology 

Since kids have a natural sense of wonder, kindergarten is the time to build on that curiosity. Children discover that asking questions and seeking answers is the key to learning.  
By the end of kindergarten, children should be able to:

  • Show that they are curious about the natural and human-made.
  • Conduct simple science experiments.
  • Show that they care about the natural world.
  • Talk about the differences in materials. For example, they know you can see through saran wrap but not tinfoil. They can also talk about different properties of materials. For example, they know sand can be wet or dry.
  • Understand how to use materials and tools safely. For example, they know not to run with scissors.
Health and Physical Activity 

Physical health and development is important in a child’s overall development. In kindergarten, children need to develop a good attitude towards health and physical activity. 
By the end of kindergarten, children should be able to:

  • Understand that getting regular exercise and eating well will keep themselves and others healthy.
  • Know what to do if they feel unsafe or if they are being bullied—like 911, block parents, and playground monitors.
  • Participate in physical activities — like dance, games, fitness breaks, tossing, and catching.
  • Have some control of their large muscles—like good balance and hand-eye coordination so they can throw, climb, and catch.
  • Have some control of their small muscles, like playing with play dough, building with blocks, playing in the sand, and using a pen or paintbrush.
The Arts 

All children need time to create and feel like an artist, dancer, actor or musician. It helps them flex their imagination.   Kids will be exposed to three areas of the arts: visual arts, music, and drama. So they will be doing what most of us did in kindergarten—drawing, painting, singing, dancing, and pretending.  
By the end of kindergarten, children should be able to:

  • Show they can draw pictures and be able to describe their drawings.
  • Show they know what art is.
  • Show different ideas in their art.
  • Be aware of different types of art from different cultures.
  • Use different materials to create art.

Remember, every child is different. If your child is not meeting expectations, don't worry, most kids even out by the end of grade one. Learn more about playing to learn at home.