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All-day K for all across B.C.

Sept. 6 is the day schools open across the province but for most students, classes don't really start until the following day.

Sept. 6 is the day schools open across the province but for most students, classes don't really start until the following day.

Tuesday is just for confirming registration so schools can plan classes to meet provincial class size and composition regulations, and students aren't expected to be at school for very long. Schools should be sending out information regarding opening day procedures and in many cases it will be on the school website as well.

Wednesday is when regular classes begin for most students, although in some cases, it could take a week to sort out classrooms, depending on new registrations that took place over the summer.

The exception is for new kindergarten students, who will be gradually introduced to the school day, starting with meeting their teacher for a 30-minute welcoming conversation during the week of Sept. 6 to 9.

Assistant superintendent Maureen Dockendorf said these meetings will give parents an opportunity to discuss their child's needs and interests with the teacher. The following week, students will likely meet for half days in small groups, before attending for a full day on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The gradual introduction will make it easier for children and parents to adjust, Dockendorf said.

Parents who are uncertain whether their child can handle a full day can request a partial-day but experience shows that most students soon want to join their peers for a full day, she said.

This is the second year for full-day kindergarten, which was partially introduced for B.C. students last year, and Dockendorf said the district has learned a great deal that will make the transition "seamless."

Among the preparations to welcome approximately 2,000 new kindergarten students to school this year has been the purchase of new classroom materials, construction of new modular classrooms and additions at 11 schools, and training for teachers.

Dockendorf said kindergarten teachers will continue to meet throughout the year to share their experiences and mentor each other. Last year, she said, teachers found they had more time to spend helping children develop numeracy, literacy and self-regulation skills.

"It will be interesting to see what happens this year but, for sure, there will be a lot less angst because of what happened last year," Dockendorf said.

Another advantage of a longer kindergarten day, she said, is that teachers can connect more with students and their families because they're responsible now for 20 students instead of 40 when children were in school for just a half-day.

"Having taught [kindergarten] for eight years," she said, "what a gift."

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First day of school: Tuesday, Sept. 6

Students: 30,000 kindergarten to Grade 12

Teachers: 2,000 teachers (plus 350 teachers on call) or 1,750 FTE

Operating budget: $250 million

Check your school's website (you can go through for a list of supplies, school calendars and opening-day schedules.

Rock 'n' hockey

Rock and roll, hockey, First Nations culture and the law are some of the new topics School District 43 students will be studying this September.

The Tri-Cities' Board of Education has approved five new courses for students this year. Among the new electives now available are:

History of Rock and Roll 12 at Pinetree secondary;

Hockey Coaching and Development 12 at Centennial and Riverside secondary schools;

Sports Medicine 11 at Gleneagle;

and an independent studies course called Law 12: Introduction to Policing, and a new course called Urban First Nations 12: Expressing Your Truth that was piloted at CABE (Coquitlam Alternative Basic Education) to promote self-discovery and knowledge of traditional and First Nations culture.

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