Earlier this year, the renowned magazine Science devoted a special edition to the topic of early childhood education.
As the editors say in their introduction, we generally don’t really remember the earliest experiences in our lives but these forces continue to affect us in many ways, such as our success in school or how we fare in our working lives.
Saskatchewan gets points for a putting Early Childhood Education (ECE) under one ministry and having an early childhood curriculum framework, but the province is lagging in other areas, says a new national report.
Early Years Study 3 was released Nov. 22, just days after the death of one of its authors, Dr. Fraser Mustard, a pioneer in the field of early childhood development.
As a feature of the study, the authors included an Early Childhood Education Index that looks at how the provinces are doing. It’s organized into five categories, each with its own criteria: governance, funding, access, learning environment and accountability. The maximum score is 15, and only three provinces – Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba – received passing marks. Saskatchewan, along with B.C. and New Brunswick, received a 4.5.
While most provinces aren’t making the grade, the authors did find some areas of progress. More provinces are expanding play-based kindergarten programs, are combining departments that oversee ECE and are doing more to monitor and report on early childhood vulnerability. On the whole though, Canada, as a country, needs to be doing more to support the early years.
Canadian parents today are raising families with less money and time than the Baby Boomer generation even though the country’s economy has doubled in size since 1976, says a new study that Paul Kershaw and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia are releasing in partnership with kidSKAN (see here for a brief summary).
Household incomes for those approaching retirement have increased more in Saskatchewan since 1976 than any other province. While it is easier to retire, Saskatchewan reports the worst service squeeze for the generation raising young kids in the country. There are enough regulated child care and kindergarten spaces for just 21 per cent of children under age six.
The importance of the early years on children’s brain development received some major airtime in the U.S. recently.
In September, NBC News sponsored its second annual Education Nation, a national conversation about the state of education and solutions for its challenges. One of the speakers was Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center of the Developing Child at Harvard.
His presentation offers a good, concise introduction to children’s brain development and why the early years are so crucial in determining later development. “Early experiences are literally built into our bodies,” he says.
The video has been posted on the website for the Frameworks Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that aims to change the public conversation about social issues through research and communications. Early child development is one of its current projects.
kidSKAN's Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine has been participating with the Frameworks Institute's Study Circles, through the Norlein Foundation in Alberta, as part of his knowledge transfer work with NeuroDevNet , a pan-Canadian network of excellence for research in early brain development. The Norlein Foundation has recently launched an Alberta Family Wellness Initiative website to translate research on brain development into policy and practice.