Kindergarten

When Centre Street (E.A. Lovell) School was erected in 1923 a room was especially equipped for a kindergarten. It was a new thing then and was branded by some as “nonsense” and a “waste of money.”

Some of the doctors in the 1860s and 1870s were noticed to have said that small children, even up to the age of seven or eight, should not attend school. They should be home and allowed the freedom of play in the fresh air and sun. This would build up stronger constitutions and also relieve the overcrowding in the schools.

However these ideas have changed with the modern times, children enter kindergarten at the age of five[1]. The attendance is not compulsory but is strongly recommended to the parents.

Kindergarten supplements home training and aids the transition period from home to school life. It teaches the child to work and play with those of his own age, to respect the rights of others and to wait his turn in selecting materials or when playing games.

The late Miss Maude Power was the first teacher who introduced kindergarten. It did not receive a very warm reception at the time.

Miss Greta Ellis, residing at present on the corner of Centre Street and Athol Street West, had been conducting kindergarten classes in her own home in the years 1918 – 1920. She had a room especially equipped for the purpose. Children entered at the age of [five] and the classes were of two hour duration. They were quite popular and were well attended.

When the kindergarten room was ready for the work, the Board of Education hired Miss Greta Ellis as teacher in 1924. At first the classes were small and Miss Ellis taught and played the piano, as well. The first helper, who was hired when the attendance increased, played the piano while Miss Ellis taught. Later the assistants who were engaged as helpers held teacher’s certificates and were required also to be able to play the piano. Miss Ellis was strict and had the work well in hand.

The kindergarten in Centre Street School was the only one for twenty-four years. Children were brought there from all over the city in taxis.

As time went on the attendance became so large other classes had to be started. They were as follows:

            September 1948 – Ritson School, a second kindergarten class

            September 1950 – South Simcoe School – a third kindergarten class

            September 1952 – a fourth kindergarten class was started in Simcoe Street North (now Dr. S.J. Phillips)

In September 1953 – College Hill, Coronation, Duke of Edinburgh and Woodcrest schools opened, each having a kindergarten class. With the passing of years, practically all opposition to kindergarten, for small children, has disappeared.


[1] Today children as young as three years old are enrolled in Junior Kindgerten.

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