Curriculum changes coming for kindergarten students

By Lincoln DePradine

Ontario, beginning next year, is introducing curriculum changes for kindergarten students to make the province and Canada a “global leader’’ by “emphasizing literacy and math skills in the classroom’’, education minister Stephen Lecce has said.

Stephen Lecce

“We, as Canadians, have to do better. We need to be the gold standard. And, it is my mission, as minister, to elevate us to become the global leader in literacy, mathematics and skills development, and I know we can do it,’’ Lecce told a news conference of ethnic media representatives, including The Caribbean Camera.

The Ontario government announced the “Back-to-Basics Kindergarten Curriculum’’ on Tuesday, saying its aim is to ensure that all students are prepared for success.

It’s backed by a $65 million investment and plans to hire 700 specialized math teachers each year for the next two years, Lecce said.

Patricia DeGuire

The government calls it the “next step’’ in Ontario’s commitment to modernize the curriculum, following the April 2023 unveiling of the $180 million “Plan to Boost Math, Writing and Reading Skills’’, which “targeted supports in the classroom and at home to help students build the math and reading skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce’’.

The administration of Premier Doug Ford said its action also is motivated by the publication of “Right to Read’’, a 2022 report of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) headed by Patricia DeGuire.

The OHRC, in its report, stated that Ontario’s kindergarten program was failing to teach many students to read and was not promoting reading confidence.

The government, in a news release following the announcement of the “Back-to-Basics Kindergarten Curriculum’’, quoted DeGuire – the OHRC’s chief commissioner – as saying that the human rights agency supports the planned curriculum change.

“This government’s ‘Back-to-Basics’ approach is evidence-based and aligns with the OHRC’s recommendations. It commits to ensuring that every child is equipped for their educational journey and to reach their full potential,’’ said DeGuire.

Among the component of the “Back-to-Basics’’ learning initiative are an emphasis on STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics; “evidence-based clear and direct instruction in literacy’’; a promise that “all students will start to learn about fractions, coding and patterns earlier in their education’’; and a commitment to focus on “modernizing the way reading is taught and assessed in schools to help improve student literacy’’.

“Every child in every school will be required to do this,’’ Lecce emphasized to reporters. “I am looking forward to this being unveiled in September 2025.’’

The minister said he was “determined’’ to “step up and really disrupt the systems that have not been working for kids and to demand better,’’ and to engage in a “levelling up’’ that would “bring everyone to a higher standard’’.

“This is about really bolstering their confidence, their skills and their future prospects as leaders in this country,’’ he said.

“We know that for young people to succeed,’’ Lecce said, “we need to ensure young people master the literacy skills, the math skills, in order to have life-long success, academically, in the employment sector and beyond.’’