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Kindergarten check-list: crayons, chalk, understanding of advanced labour economics

Stephen Quinn for column logo

Dear Parents and/or Guardians:

We would like to welcome your child to kindergarten in the Vancouver School District! We're looking forward to working with you as the new school year begins. The first year of school is very important for your child and will help determine his or her future earning potential, success in relationships, and whether they will die alone or surrounded by loving family members. We want to make it a happy and successful year for your child and set them on the right path! In preparation for the first weeks of school, please note the following:

School begins on Tuesday, Sept. 3 in the Vancouver School District. If your child cannot attend on the first day, it will be their responsibility to make up the class work that has been missed.

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The VSD's Kindergarten Gradual Entry program means your child will attend school for just part of the day for the first two months.

This will begin with 10 minutes on the first day, and increase in five-minute increments until your child is attending for a full, six-hour school day. We apologize for any disruption this may cause to parents not committed to their child's education.

Please note that Sept. 23 and Oct. 25 are Professional Days and there will be no classes.

Your child must meet our minimum aptitude requirement (MAR) upon entering the classroom on that all-important first day. This includes a demonstrated ability in fine motor skills such as origami, needlepoint or soldering.

Your child must be able to speak at least two languages fluently and demonstrate the ability to read and write in one of those languages in upper and lower case printing and cursive. Those without these abilities will be assigned to remedial classes.

Young learners must be able to demonstrate proficiency in math. For instance, they should be able to solve the following problem: Emily's union has negotiated a pay increase of 2 per cent in the first year, and 1.5 per cent in the remaining two years of a three-year contract. What is Emily's actual pay increase over the three-year term, adjusted for inflation, assuming an inflation rate of 1.3 per cent?

As many classrooms have welcomed "the digital age," your child will be expected to type 60-80 words per minute upon entry to kindergarten and to perform basic computer functions and repairs. Students are expected to have a working knowledge of Windows 98.

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Knowledge of local, national and international geography is a basic requirement. This includes being able to locate and name all Canadian provinces and territories, U.S. states, and Scandinavian countries where public education is valued and generously funded.

A basic understanding of labour issues will assist your child in navigating the school environment.

Your child should be able to discuss at length the proud history of trade unions, specifically how unions have benefited Canadian society over the past 100 years.

This should include examples of how free collective bargaining has achieved better results than contracts unilaterally imposed. Children may choose an alternate topic: "why strikes are good for me."

Your child will also be expected to be able to explain orally how market fluctuations over 10 years can affect the economy and why no one in their right mind would sign a 10-year employment contract.

Please have your child write a short essay (500-600 words) on the failure of capitalism.

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Have your child fill in the blank in the following sentence:

"The workers must control the means of ______________."

To help us assess your child's artistic ability, please have them sketch (in the blank space below) a portrait of Lech Walesa, Ken Georgetti, or Jim Sinclair.

If driving your child to school is a necessity, please keep in mind that you may not park within a one kilometre radius of the school. We suggest you bike, walk or take transit.

Your child is expected to arrive with lunch, a healthy snack and all of their own school supplies. This includes, scissors, glitter glue, paper plates, dried beans, wooden stir sticks and a desk.

We look forward to a happy and productive year!

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