Project Overview

The Peel projects were a series of collaborative early childhood investigations between Atkinson Faculty and the Peel District School Board, and the Region of Peel Department of Children’s Services.

Key Findings from Year 3 of Full-­Day Early Learning Kindergarten in Peel (March 2014)

This set of research comprised an ongoing longitudinal study in collaboration with the Regional Municipality of Peel, the Peel District School Board and the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Since 2008 the research had been examining the implementation and impact of school-based integrated early childhood services beginning with Peel Best Start. The Best Start study built on the previous work of our research team in the Toronto First Duty project (e.g., Corter, Janmohamed & Pelletier, 2012; Corter & Pelletier, 2010; Pelletier, 2012a). In 2010, the Peel research expanded to include full-day early learning/kindergarten (FDELK). The research included two cohorts of FDK and half-day control children, those who began in 2010 and those who began in 2012. Children were followed to the end of Grade 2.

Havenwood Place & Readiness Centres

Havenwood Place

Beginning in 1997 Atkinson faculty researchers described the implementation of Havenwood Place a drop-in “readiness” centre for preschoolers and their parents at Havenwood Public School with wrap-around support from community services. The success of Havenwood Place led to the establishment of the Peel Board’s preschool Readiness Centres for 4-year-olds and their parents.

Readiness Centres

The programs were facilitated by experienced kindergarten teachers and brought in community services. Parents participated in learning activities with their children and in parent-only workshops. Our research followed the families for two years, until the children were in senior kindergarten. In comparison to a matched group of children who had no preschool experience, the Readiness Centre children scored significantly higher in early learning. Parents and teachers likewise rated the Readiness Centre children as “more ready” to begin formal schooling.

Parents in Kindergarten

The following year, the Peel Board implemented junior kindergarten and a new study, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, brought parents to kindergarten with their child once a week for 12 weeks.

Pre-post measures of children’s early learning showed that compared to a control group whose families did not participate in kindergarten, the “Parents in Kindergarten” children made significantly greater gains in early learning.

A recent longitudinal follow-up showed that there were long-term gains for children, compared to the control group. Gains were greatest for children who were learning English and for children whose parents attended the program earlier, that is, in junior, rather than senior kindergarten.

Family Literacy Programs

In 2004, in collaboration with the Region of Peel a family literacy evening program was established in schools in several of the district’s school boards.

With initial funding from an Ontario Early Years Challenge Fund grant and subsequently, from the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, the research examined the impact of the family literacy program on home literacy practices and on children’s early literacy development.

Deutsche Bank funds contributed to the development of a research-based family literacy curriculum. Results show that the program has resulted in literacy gains for children.

A networked partnership model with corporate sponsors led to a number of initiatives, such as an evaluation of TVO’s early literacy programming and of an Eastman-Kodak family alphabet book-making project.

The family literacy work continued in extensions to new contexts such as home-based programs, parent-only and parent-child programs in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the Chinese community in Toronto and a lunchtime family literacy program for kindergarten children and their parents in Peel region schools.

Examining the Implementation & Impact of Ontario’s Best Start Initiative

In 2008, the Peel partnership continued with a research grant to examine the implementation and impact of Ontario’s Best Start initiative in 2 English and 2 French school boards in Peel.

Direct measures were collected in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic and the Peel District School Boards. Key informant data were collected in the two French school boards: Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud and Conseil Scolaire de District du Centre-Sud-Ouest.

The research has been examining how staff teams of kindergarten teachers, early childhood educators and parenting support workers have come together to develop and deliver integrated early learning programs for kindergarten children and their parents.

It has also examined the impact of the full-day program on support for parents - child care, kindergarten, family literacy and community services - as well as on parents’ “daily hassles.”

Finally the research has been tracking kindergarten children’s experiences, perspectives and outcomes in the full-day integrated programs and in regular half-day kindergartens.

Innovative measures such as finger puppet interviews, children’s drawings and writing, along with regular academic learning measures have been used to capture children’s experiences. An extension to add full-day early learning/kindergarten sites has been planned for the upcoming years.

Project Publications

Timmons, K., Pelletier, J., & Corter, C. (2015). Understanding children’s self-regulation within different classroom contexts. Early Child Development and Care, 1-19. DOI:

Heagle, K., Timmons, K., Hargreaves, F., & Pelletier, J. (2015). The social kindergartener: Comparing children's perspectives of full- and half-day kindergarten. Submitted for review.  Conference paper presented at the Jean Piaget Society, Toronto, Ontario (June, 2015).

Pelletier, J. (2014). Ontario’s full-day kindergarten: A bold public policy initiative. Public Sector Digest, June Issue: Education, 41-49.

Pelletier, J. (2012). Key findings from Year 2 of Full-­Day Early Learning Kindergarten in Peel. Toronto: Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

Pelletier, J. (2012). Key findings from Year 1 of Full-­Day Early Learning Kindergarten in Peel. Toronto: Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto.

Pelletier, J. & Brent, J. (2002). Parent participation in children’ school readiness: The effects of parental self-efficacy, cultural diversity and teacher strategies. International Journal of Early Childhood, 34 (1), 45-60.

Pelletier, J. & Corter, C. (2005). Design, implementation and outcomes of a school readiness program for diverse families. The School Community Journal, 15, 89-116.

Pelletier, J., & Corter, C. (2005, April). Evaluation Methodology for Integrated School-Based Early Childhood Services. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal.

Pelletier, J., & Corter, C. (2006). Integration, innovation, and evaluation in school-based early childhood services. In B. Spodek & O. Sarracho (Eds.), Handbook of research on the education of young children. (pp. 477–496). Matwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Zhang, J. & Pelletier, J. (August 17, 2006). Analysis of the short and long-term effects of a school readiness intervention program for parents and their kindergarten children. Paper presented at the International Conference on Speech, Writing and Context, Edmonton, Alberta.