The Kindergarten Program
1. What is the role of conceptual understandings in planning and implementation?

 Conceptual understandings are statements of essential ideas intended to assist educators to unpack the knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits of mind that are embedded in each of the overall expectations. Conceptual understandings are used by educators when: framing questions to ask the children as they co-construct learning with them (e.g., “Where are all the places you see people reading?”), discussing children’s learning with parents, or engaging in discussion with other educators about the meaning or significance of children’s observations and explorations.

1. Do Kindergarten children need to know how to print all their letters and numbers and achieve a reading level?

 In The Kindergarten Program (2016) the knowledge of letters has been broadened to include the purpose of using letters in writing, as a means of communicating thoughts, ideas and understandings. The knowledge of letters supports the child’s desire to communicate, express themself, and engage with the thinking of others, as represented in print and media. The Program document includes professional learning conversations in order to view knowledge of letters more broadly. For instance, questions to guide documentation such as, “What do children know/notice about letters?” “How do they use that knowledge in their reading, writing, and conversations?”(Page 211-212) The specific expectation that indicates children need to use, read and represent numbers in the current document is similar to the previous expectation. In The Kindergarten Program (2016) the use of numbers serves the child’s broader exploration of mathematical knowledge, skills and concepts. Numbers (numerals) are one means of representing mathematical thinking. It is important to understand that children are highly capable of complex thinking. In order to avoid limiting the children’s thinking, and to help them extend their learning, educators challenge children in a variety of ways. There are many expectations in mathematics that include children representing their thinking by using, reading and writing numbers. (The Kindergarten Program, pages 216-248)

1. Are combined Kindergarten Year 2 / Grade 1 classrooms expected to schedule 60 minute blocks for mathematics?

 According to PPM 160, “the ministry’s expectation [is] that school boards across Ontario will provide focused daily mathematics instruction for students in Grades 1 through 8 during protected blocks of time.” In Kindergarten, mathematics instruction is integrated into children’s play and inquiry throughout the school day. Schools and school boards will make local decisions on the implementation of PPM 160 to best meet the learning needs of their students.

1. The Frames seem very similar to each other. For example, the Self-regulation and Well-being frame seems very similar to the Belonging and Contributing frame. Can you clarify the difference?

 The Kindergarten Program, 2016 (Pages 13-14) notes that the four "frames" are intentionally broad areas of learning to support the integrated way that children's learning naturally occurs during play and inquiry. These frames are meant to help educators structure thinking about learning and assessment. (For a more thorough description of Self-Regulation and Well-Being and Belonging and Contribution, see pages 47-63 of The Kindergarten Program, 2016) The overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program are associated with the frame that encompasses the aspects of learning to which that expectation most closely relates. As such, an expectation may be connected with more than one frame. The Belonging and Contributing frame encompasses children’s learning and development with respect to: their sense of connectedness to others; their relationships with others, and their contributions as part of a group, a community, and the natural world; their understanding of relationships and community, and of the ways in which people contribute to the world around them. The learning encompassed in this frame also relates to the child’s early development of the attributes and attitudes that inform citizenship, through his or her sense of personal connectedness to various communities. The Self-Regulation and Well-Being frame encompasses children’s learning and development with respect to: their own thinking and feelings, and their recognition of and respect for differences in the thinking and feelings of others; regulating their emotions, adapting to distractions, and assessing consequences of actions in a way that enables them to engage in learning; and their physical and mental health and wellness. What children learn in connection with this frame allows them to focus, to learn, to respect themselves and others, and to promote well-being in themselves and others. Educators will determine which frame is most appropriate for communicating the key learning and growth in learning demonstrated by the child. This provides more flexibility for educators as they communicate their findings from their assessment and evaluation of the child's learning. Educators are encouraged to use their professional judgement to discern which expectations to report on in each frame.
1. What is the role of the planning time/preparation coverage educators in a play- and inquiry-based Kindergarten program? How can we maintain the integrated nature of our Kindergarten program?

 In order to make the most effective contributions to observations and documentation about children’s growth in learning and next steps in learning, boards may wish to consider the roles in the team of educators such as planning time or specialist educators and any other staff who interact with the children. Educators collaborate with others to create engaging environments and experiences to foster children’s learning and development. Rather than creating an unnecessary disruption to the flow of the day, when appropriate, they can make a seamless transition into what is already happening in the classroom at time of entry. Each educator can be engaged in the children’s play and inquiry, and observe and document what they see and hear. All educators have an important role in assessment for and assessment as learning as they document evidence of children’s thinking and learning during exploration, play and inquiry. Every educator should feel he or she belongs, is a valuable contributor, and deserves the opportunity to engage in meaningful work.

Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum
1. What is the Ministry’s expectation of boards with regard to communication with parents/families of Kindergarten Children?

 As per Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016), “Communication with parents* about a child’s learning should be ongoing throughout the school year, and should include a variety of formal and informal means, ranging from formal written reports to informal notes, conversations and discussions”. (page 12) Communication about a child’s learning should provide detailed information about key learning, growth in learning and next steps that will support children in their learning, and assist parents in supporting learning at home. It is important to the child’s development to engage parents in the child’s learning early in the school year, in order to support both children and their parents throughout the school year. Module Three of the Key Features of Growing Success and Kindergarten Assessment e-Module series summarizes this information about communicating with families. Boards are encouraged to develop processes for communication throughout the year, such as planned classroom visits and child-led conferences focused on the child’s portfolio, to support parents’ participation in their child’s learning.” (page 12) On December 20, 2016, in response to ongoing input the Ministry of Education released a Memorandum informing boards that the transition to the Communication of Learning Templates would not be required until the June 2017 reporting period. If a determination is made by boards to begin using the Communication of Learning Templates in June, it is the expectation that parents of all children in Kindergarten will receive communication about their child’s learning in accordance with existing board practices and timelines for the Winter 2017 reporting period. * The word ‘parents’ is used to refer collectively to a parent, guardian, caregiver, and/or close family member who is responsible for raising the child.

1. Why is the Ministry introducing a new Kindergarten report?

 With the introduction of the revised Kindergarten Program (2016) document, it is important to provide a provincial policy that: supports the assessment, evaluation, and reporting of children’s learning aligns with the content, philosophy, and intent of the program. The Kindergarten Communication of Learning process supports the pedagogical approaches of the play- and inquiry-based program, especially the view of children, families and educators as “competent and capable, curious and rich in experience…” (page 10, The Kindergarten Program 2016).

1. What expectations are reported on through the Kindergarten Program Communication of Learning Process?

 Educators communicate evidence of key learning, growth in learning and next steps in learning in relation to the overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program (2016).

1. What place/purpose do the specific expectations have in service of the overall expectations?

 The specific expectations (SEs) describe in greater detail the knowledge and skills related to the overall expectations. Educators use their professional judgement to determine which specific expectations will be used to evaluate growth and learning in relation to the overall expectations within each frame, and which ones will be accounted for in instruction and assessment but not necessarily evaluated. (Page 10)

1. How can educators share concerns they may have about a child’s progress, on the Communication of Learning report?

 The Kindergarten Program (2016) acknowledges that young children grow and develop at different rates; children enter the Kindergarten program at different stages of development and with diverse backgrounds and experiences – and they will leave it at different stages and at different points in their growth in relation to the program expectations (page 43). When developing comments, educators should communicate their observations of key learning and growth in learning, and identify next steps in learning, in relation to the overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program.

1. How does the information gathered from leveled assessment tools (e.g., Prime, PM Benchmarks, etc.) contribute to assessment for learning and/or to the Communication for Learning?

 Information from diagnostic assessment may help educators determine where individual children are in their development of knowledge and skills, so that instruction can be personalized and tailored to provide the appropriate next steps for learning. (PPM 155) As such, the information from diagnostic assessment tools is generally used for ‘assessment for learning’ rather than for evaluation and reporting.

1. What is the role of the educators (teachers and ECEs) in communicating information about children’s learning?

 All educators work together, as part of the educator team, to plan and implement the program and to maintain a healthy physical, emotional, and social learning environment. All educators contribute to the observation, monitoring and assessment of each child’s learning, that is, the process of communicating information about learning.

1. Are Early Childhood Educators included on the Communication of Learning template?

 Yes. Space is provided on the templates for the name of the Early Childhood Educator(s). This space recognises their contribution to the observation, monitoring and assessment of each child’s learning that is reflected in the Kindergarten communication of learning process.

1. How many expectations need to be reported on in each frame, for each reporting period?

 Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016) focuses on the communication of key learning, growth in learning and possible next steps. Educators are encouraged to work as a team to analyse the pedagogical documentation they have collected for each child to determine which program expectations best reflect the learning of that child during a particular reporting period. This information will inform what is reported on in each frame for each child, for each reporting period. Educators communicate key learning, growth in learning and next steps with families in a variety of ways -- both formal and informal -- over the course of the school year. By the end of the two year program, children should have demonstrated growth in learning in all of the overall expectations.

1. Does the Communication of Learning- Initial Observations report replace Fall classroom observations/visits?

 Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum states that, “Boards are encouraged to develop processes for communication throughout the year, such as planned classroom visits and child-led conferences focused on the child’s portfolio, to support parents’ participation in their children’s learning and to strengthen home-school relationships.” (page 12) The manner in which boards choose to implement the processes for communicating with parents throughout the year, including the format and the timing, is a local decision made at the board and/or school level. Communication of learning with families comes in a variety of forms and is responsive and flexible to be supportive of each child and family.

Resources to Support Implementation
1. What supports have been provided and/or will be provided by the Ministry of Education for educator teams, administrators and families?

 The Ontario Ministry of Education recognizes the importance of providing resources for educator teams, administrators and families as The Kindergarten Program (2016) and Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016) move forward. These resources can be found online: e-modules to unpack Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum - “Key Features of Growing Success and Kindergarten Assessment” an Educator Guide (DRAFT) to support the completion of the Communication of Learning templates A series of videos demonstrating assessment for, as and of learning with young learners, including kindergarten students (viewing guides to follow) Materials from the Fall 2016 regional professional learning sessions Professional Learning Opportunities - Fall 2016: Eight learning modules to support the implementation of the Kindergarten program.  The eighth module is devoted specifically to communicating information about children’s learning using the Communication of Learning template. Principal tip sheets (DRAFT) to support principals’ instructional leadership practice related to The Kindergarten Program, the Kindergarten Addendum and the Communication of Learning a parent guide to help families understand their child’s Communication of Learning report (Coming Soon) other support materials (Coming Soon)

1. How have our union and federation partners been involved in the development of The Kindergarten Program 2016, Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016), and the Communication of Learning Templates?

 Representatives from unions and federations have been part of the feedback and consultation process throughout the development of The Kindergarten Program 2016, Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016), and the Communication of Learning Templates. Representatives from unions and federations have been invited to take part in all regional training and capacity-building sessions that have been offered by the Ministry since the inception of full-day Kindergarten in 2010. Representatives of federations and unions, as well as principal, supervisory officer and board associations were part of the Kindergarten Implementation Working Group (KIWG). This working group provided input to the Minister of Education around communicating children’s learning to parents, professional learning for educator teams, effective implementation of new documents, and resources to support educators, administrators and parents.

Communication of Learning (CoL) Template
1. How do educators share concerns about a child’s learning while still remaining asset-based in their comments?

 The primary purpose of assessment is to improve learning and help children become self-regulating, autonomous learners. (Growing Success- The Kindergarten Addendum, page 6)Educators recognize that children should “be given ample time to demonstrate their learning through varied learning opportunities that are appropriate for their stage of development and within their zone of proximal development.” (The Kindergarten Program, page 43) Comments on the Communication of Learning report that describe challenges in relation to the overall expectations can focus on what children have learned, recognize children’s growth and include possible next steps for learning in language that parents will understand. The ongoing communication with parents that educators are encouraged to establish early in the school year (Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum, page 13) further supports the comments in the communication of learning report. A draft Educator’s Guide includes sample comments that may serve as a useful reference in helping educators to frame their comments.

1. What is the role of the educator who provides planning time/preparation coverage in the preparation of the Communication of Learning?

 Planning time/preparation coverage teachers are members of the collaborative educator team and would be included with the classroom teacher and ECEs in the local processes to work together to assess key learning, share observations of student growth in learning, and share other relevant observations.

1. What is the role of parents and families in the Communication of Learning?

 Ongoing, reciprocal communication between children, parents and educators is essential to support children’s learning. Parents are vital partners in their children’s education. The Communication of Learning is meant to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between families and educators. This dialogue will ensure that educators and parents are working towards the same goals. Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum (2016) reminds us that "Educators should discuss next steps in the child's learning with the parents to inform them of their plans for supporting the child's new learning at school and to assist them in supporting their child's learning at home." (page 13) The Kindergarten Communication of Learning template includes a tear-off section for parent comments and acknowledgement of receipt of the report and/or a request to discuss the child’s report with the educators. Parents may return this section to the child’s school as part of the continuous communication process. The Ministry continues to support families of children in Kindergarten with the creation of a guide for parents (Understanding Your Child’s Kindergarten Reports: A Parent’s Guide to Kindergarten Communication of Learning: Initial Observations and the Kindergarten Communication of Learning), to follow soon.

1. Do we have to report on math and literacy every reporting period?

 Growing Success - the Kindergarten Addendum states, "Educators will use their professional judgement, supported by information provided in The Kindergarten Program, to determine which specific expectations will be used to evaluate growth and learning in relation to the overall expectations within each frame, and which ones will be accounted for in instruction and assessment but not necessarily evaluated." (page 10) Growing Success - the Kindergarten Addendum also states that, "Communication with parents about a child's learning should be ongoing throughout the school year and should include a variety of formal and informal means, ranging from formal written reports to informal notes, conversations, and discussions." (page 12)  Opportunities for literacy and mathematics take place throughout the day, which allows for many opportunities for educators to garner assessment information that may be communicated to parents in many ways throughout the reporting period.

1. Some expectations appear in more than one frame. How do educators determine where in the Communication of Learning to report on these expectations?

 An expectation is associated with the frame that encompasses the aspects of learning and development to which that expectation most closely relates. An expectation that addresses more than one aspect of learning may be connected with more than one frame. When reviewing the pedagogical documentation, educators examine the evidence of key learning or growth in learning that has been demonstrated by the child, determine which frame best aligns with that evidence, and then report growth in learning in that frame.

1. What is “parent-friendly language”?

 When completing the Communication of Learning reports, educators use clear and familiar language to describe key learning, growth in learning and next steps in learning. Sample comments are included in the draft Educator’s Guide.

1. Will there be a guide for educators to go with the new Communication of Learning reports?

 Yes, a Guide for Educators is posted in DRAFT version on EduGAINS in the Kindergarten subdomain.

1. When is it necessary to place a check in the IEP or ESL box on the Communication of Learning document?

 A few children in Kindergarten may have Individual Education Plans (IEPs). In these cases, as described in Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum (2016): If the IEP outlines accommodations only, then the IEP box is not checked. If the IEP outlines modifications in one or more frames, then the IEP box is checked in the respective frame, and the “Program expectations have been modified to meet the needs of the child.” (page 15) is included. Where the child’s IEP identifies alternative learning expectations in one or more frames, that are not described in Kindergarten Program (2016), the educator must check the “IEP” box for the frame and must include the following statement: “Key learning, growth in learning, and next steps in learning are based on alternative learning expectations in the IEP.” (page 16) Regarding English Language Learners, Growing Success - the Kindergarten Addendum states, “When a child’s learning and growth in learning are based on expectations modified from the expectations in The Kindergarten Program (2016) to support English language learning needs, educators will check the “ESL” box for the frame.” (page 16)  A Kindergarten student who might need modifications as an English language learner would be quite rare; however, if the educators have documented that with accommodations a child is not demonstrating growth, then modifications might be necessary.

1. How do we write next steps in the June Communication of Learning?

 A next step in learning is defined as a way in which a child can move forward in developing knowledge and skills, in relation to the overall expectations, both at school and at home. (Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum, page 14) A next step is focused on a child’s learning and provides suggestions that would be appropriate for home and school, and that meet the child at an appropriate developmental level. Next steps focus on learning, not on an activity. Educators use their knowledge of the child, The Kindergarten Program, and conversations with the family when determining next steps. A sample next step comment in June might look like this: To continue developing his understanding of how writing works, we encourage Ryan to write about areas of interest to him, and to write for different purposes, such as writing rules for games he invents, creating signs, making lists, and sending notes to others.

1. There is no place for “learning skills” on the Communication of Learning templates. How will we communicate these?

 Learning skills are integrated into the program through the four frames, particularly within the frames of Belonging and Contributing and Self-Regulation and Well-Being. The expectations encompassing learning skills are assessed and communicated in a holistic way as part of the personalized description of the child’s learning journey.

1. What is the specific definition of Key Learning?

 As per Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum, “Key Learning refers to the most important or significant skills and/or understandings (knowledge) that the child has demonstrated during the reporting period, in relation to the overall expectations of The Kindergarten Program. It is appropriate for educators to include their perceptions about the child’s interests and learning preferences in their descriptions of key learning.”(page 14) As educators reflect upon and analyze their documentation of the thinking and learning of the child, they gain greater insight which enables them to judge that child’s key learning in relation to the overall expectations at a given point in time. (Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum, page 11)

1. Are comment banks appropriate in the Communication of Learning in Kindergarten?

 Comments are reflective of the individual learner and their learning. Because the Kindergarten Communication of Learning is meant to be a description of a child’s learning journey within the context of relationships, a comment bank may be of limited use. Growing Success – The Kindergarten Addendum states that, “The Kindergarten Communication of Learning is intended to provide parents with descriptions, written in plain language and including anecdotal comments, about their child’s strengths and growth in relation to the overall expectations within each frame of The Kindergarten Program.” (page 13) The draft Educator’s Guide, linked here, includes sample comments that may serve as a useful reference in helping educators to frame their comments, as these samples demonstrate how educators can touch on multiple overall and their related specific expectations when composing a descriptive paragraph about the learner. The sample comments also reflect the integration of anecdotal evidence and the child’s voice in determining key learning and growth in learning for the child.

1. Do we have to include ‘next steps’ in every frame?

 Growing Success - The Kindergarten Addendum states that a child’s key learning and growth in learning in relation to the overall expectations in each of the four frames must be described clearly in the Communication of Learning reports (page 15). The policy further states that, “Educators should discuss next steps in the child’s learning with the parents to inform them of their plans for supporting the child’s new learning at school and to assist them in supporting their child’s learning at home” (page 13) and that “parents’ participation in their child’s next steps in learning should be encouraged and supported.” (page 15) Educators may use their professional judgement within the context of their relationship with the child and family to determine in which frames next steps are included.

1. Sample comments for “Next Steps” use the pronoun “we”. What does “we” suggest and what is expected?

 In the sample comments found in the Guide for Educators the inclusive pronoun “we” is used to include families and educators. It reflects the idea that next steps are part of an ongoing reciprocal conversation between the educators and the parents that supports the learning of the child in all of their contexts. Using ‘we’ may also reinforce that the classroom is a learning community where educators and learners support each other’s learning as they notice and name the learning that occurs.

1. What changes were made to the Communication of Learning templates?

 In response to feedback from the field, some revisions were made to the format of the Communication of Learning templates to further support educators in completing these templates. The Initial Observations template includes the addition of extra blank space below the teacher’s signature line. This will allow extra space for an additional teacher signature in situations where that may be necessary, for example, French Immersion or job sharing. On the January and June templates, the boxes for writing comments in the four frames have been re-sized to be equivalent, reflecting that each frame is of equal importance. The box for teacher and principal signature has been moved to the bottom of page 2, eliminating the need to copy three pages for the OSR. The text box with information about the four frames now wraps from the top of page 3 to the top of page 4 so that parents may return their tear off section to school without losing any program information. There is extra blank space below the teacher signature line, as with the Initial Observations template.