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Prathmesh Mistry, 5

  • Birthday: June 5
  • Homestead Public School, Brampton
  • JK, half-day program

Quoted: "My favourite dinosaur is brachiosaurus because he eats vegetables, like roti."

It was an easy mistake, early in the school year, to think 4-year-old Prathmesh Mistry was shy. Questions from his teacher were usually met with a sheepish grin, and his answers, if they came at all, were often whispered.

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The truth was Prathmesh was among the approximately one-in-10 children in Canada who speak a language other than French or English at home. His native tongue was Gujarati, and what little English he knew he'd gleaned from his older sister, Sanjana.

Immigrant students were among those the architects of full-day kindergarten imagined would benefit most. It's already available in PEI, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and in B.C. the program will be in every school next fall. But in Ontario the program has been slow to arrive in the high-density neighbourhoods where new Canadians flock, including parts of Brampton, where Prathmesh attended a half-day program at Homestead Public School.

With an addition that has already consumed every spare inch of the schoolyard, Homestead has no room to double its kindergarten enrolment. It won't introduce the full-day program until the fall of 2014.

The classroom has unlocked the world around Prathmesh, giving him access to the words he reads out looking out the back seat window of his mother's car, to the friends he meets at the park or the adults he sees at the grocery store.

"We are very pleased with his progress, but we think we would have seen even more if he'd been going full-time," said his mom, Krupa Mistry.

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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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