Stacia Morris 0

Palmerston JK SK class of 40

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The JK and English SK programme at Palmerston P.S. for September 2009 will have 40 students and 2 teachers in a single room. We feel that this is unacceptable. This will have a huge negative impact on our children’s education, health, safety, and emotional well-being. Please read the following letter outlining our concerns and sign our petition. If your child will be entering the same programme we also encourage you to phone and write the school principal, board trustee and superintendant. Together we can make a difference and give our new generation of students the proper and best start. That can’t be in a class of 40 three to five year olds. To Superintendent Andrea Alimi, While attending the Kindergarten Open House at Palmerston Community School on Thursday May, 14th, we were informed that for the school year 2009/2010 there would be one Kindergarten class at Palmerston P.S. We were informed that the one classroom would house two JK classes in the morning and two JK/SK classes in the afternoon. We see many difficulties with this arrangement and do not feel that the administration is putting the needs of the children first. 1. The physical needs of this age group are very demanding and we do not feel that with 40 children in the classroom, even with two teachers and one teacher aide, that they can be properly supervised. We are deeply concerned for their safety. 2. There is one bathroom in the classroom which presents huge hygiene problems. It is well documented the widespread germs children of this age group can pass along to each other. Clearly, 40 JK students using one toilet and one sink is simply not hygienic. Consider also the fact that some of the younger JKs are often not fully potty trained. 3. As this is the first school experience for the JKs in particular, walking into a room of 40 children will be overwhelming and intimidating for these very young students. Especially at the beginning of the year when it is common for there to be many tears and feelings of (separation) anxiety. We feel the situation can only be exacerbated by such huge numbers. The feelings and needs of these students are being completely disregarded. How are we fostering a lifelong love of learning Kindergarten is an introduction to school and should be a positive experience. 4. Establishing routines is a very important part of a Kindergarten class. Typically, with Junior Kindergarten children, as they have never been to school before, it takes much time to ensure that the children understand the way the classroom operates. Such a large group will make this even more challenging which once again raises safety concerns. 5. Academically, we do not feel the needs of the children will be met in what can only be a loud and distracting environment. Addressing different learning styles and allowing for quiet spaces within the classroom for large and small group lessons and for quiet learning time is compromised by the class size. 6. The small motor skills of this age group are developing. They are learning how to hold a crayon, how to properly hold a book, how to manipulate blocks and other manipulatives. Many of these skills are developed at the centers and with so many children competing for space and materials; we feel that it will hinder the natural learning process of exploration and play. 7. We were assured that creative use of planning time and outdoor playtimes would ensure frequent smaller groups indoor. 4 out of 15 periods per week allow for preparation time. It was suggested that each teacher would take separate prep times so that half the class would be removed from the home room to allow more quiet for the remaining group. This is in itself very disruptive to the students as they will often have to leave their classroom while their teacher is having prep. In the winter this age group has difficulty putting on outer wear, the time involved will take away from valuable learning time. Also, this will not allow for “team teaching” which we were told, is one of the main reasons for grouping the classes. Also, outdoor playtime is weather permitting and we all know living in Toronto, that many days are not suitable for outdoor play. 8. With only 1 Kindergarten class, there is no room for any new students who join the community mid year, to go. This will force the numbers to exceed the cap of 20 and indeed, in this scenario, it will mean classes larger than 40. 9. With only 1 Kindergarten class, there is no room to move children who perhaps have social issues with another child or behaviour issues with another child which almost inevitably happens in every grade. The needs of twins and siblings also, are not being considered. They are all forced to be together in one classroom. Due to time constraints, we would like a reply to each of these queries in writing on June 5th, and a meeting with us as a group on June 8th. We would like the TDSB to ensure that every registered parent is properly informed of this upcoming meeting. In this way parents can participate fully in a process and decision-making which so seriously affects the education, health and safety of our children. The Toronto District School Board promises to provide “learning environments that are safe, nurturing, positive and respectful”. Clearly, Palmerston is not taking this into consideration. All in all we are very disappointed to hear that the Kindergarten children are being disregarded in this way. Concerned parents, JK SK committee cc: Trustee Chris Bolton cc: Principal Sharon Janes cc: Councillor Adam Vaughan


We are concerned parents of children who are enrolled in the JK and English SK programme at Palmerston P.S.
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