TORONTO - About 35,000 junior and senior kindergarten students in Ontario will be attending school all day starting next fall under the government's new program aimed at giving kids a better start to their education.

Some 580 schools across Ontario will offer the full-day learning next fall, with the goal of having it available in all elementary schools by 2015 at an annual cost of approximately $1.5 billion.

Each class will include an early childhood educator as well as a teacher and about 26 children, but there would also be pre- and after-school programming run by the early childhood specialists.

"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," said a government release.

Parents would have to pay extra if they want to enrol their child in the extended plan that provides before- and after-school programs for what the government said will be a "reasonable" fee. The fees will be determined locally by school boards, and subsidies will be available for families who need help with the added cost.

Boards that have the capacity are being told to offer the extended services outside of the regular school hours for four- and five-year-olds, including during the summer break and on professional development days and statutory holidays.

School boards are also being told to offer similar services to children age six to 12 at other times of the year if there is enough parental demand.

Full-day learning will better prepare the young children for Grade 1, said Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"That gives them a better chance of finishing high school, going on to post-secondary education and getting a good job," McGuinty said in a release. "And that's in everyone's interest."

Boards submitted lists of eligible schools to the ministry last month and the government said priority would be given to low-income neighbourhoods, as well as those that have available space.

The complete list of schools is available at a government website --