An Ontario education activist says the province is "redefining preschool" by implementing early childhood education research into a full-day program -- a move aimed at giving young students a head start in learning life and relationship skills.

Annie Kidder, executive director of the group People for Education, said the program is an improved version of what's already available in other parts of the country.

"The vision for Ontario is something different," she said. "(It's a) combination of taking everything we know about early childhood education and childcare."

Kidder said the province has considered leading literacy research and studies into early childhood education when they formed the $1.5-billion program.

The program will give about 35,000 junior and senior kindergarten students a full day in the classroom as opposed to the part-time schedule that's currently available for kids in that age range.

Starting in September 2010, about 580 schools will offer the full-day experience.

"Hopefully, it's not just about leaving them in one place," said Kidder. "Our vision is for a full-day, one-year experience for younger children that is part of a larger structure where education is one piece and childcare is another piece."

She said the program will help enforce the concept of self regulation in children, such as how to control impulses and learning about consequences.

The classes will be run by a teacher and an early childhood education professional. Each class will have about 26 children enrolled. Parents will also have the option of enrolling their kids into extra after-school programming with an early-childhood educator for a fee.

The Ontario government put out a news release Tuesday saying the program will help give children a "strong foundation."

"Through instruction and play-based learning, children will develop their capacity in language and mathematics, building a strong foundation for future learning, engage in healthy physical activities and the arts, and develop socially and emotionally through interaction with their peers and the adults who teach and guide them," the release said.