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Kate Hammer: The goal was to get inside the classroom

As a military brat turned boarding school ward, I'm the product of nearly every kind of school: Rural and urban, French and English, Catholic and non-denominational, public and private.

Anyone who moved between schools as a child can tell you it's a common classroom dynamic to see some of the smartest kids at the bottom of the class.

In other words, IQ isn't everything, there's something else at work.

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I started covering education for the Globe and Mail in late 2009, just as three provinces were gearing up to re-invent their kindergarten programs. As a reporter I wondered what was wrong with the half-day model, the one where kindergarten served as a warm-up for Grade 1.

Early learning experts, the architects of these full-day models, said it was because kindergarten needed to do more than just teach children basic reading and math skills, that emerging research pointed to a whole other set of skills that had longer, more lasting effects on learning.

They included emotional self-regulation, cognitive self-regulation and theory of mind- The kinds of things many parents have never heard of and that don't show up on standardized tests.

I started brainstorming with the Globe's Toronto editor, Angela Murphy, about ways we could explore these concepts, and more importantly, get a glimpse into whether or not the full-day program effectively promotes these skills.

The only answer was to get inside the classroom, stay inside the classroom, and explore the minds of kindergarten students. The result is The Kindergarten Diaries.

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About the Author
Education reporter

Kate Hammer started her journalism career in New York, chasing crime and breaking news for The New York Times. She came to the Globe and Mail in 2008 to do much of the same and ended up investigating allegations of animal cruelty and mismanagement at the Toronto Humane Society. More

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