Education and Early Childhood Development

Approved Initiatives

Introduction

  • Funding, totaling $4.8 million over three years, was announced in 2011 Speech From the Throne to advance development and implementation of a provincial early childhood learning strategy entitled Learning from the Start.
  • Initial focus is on the birth to three years period with a specific focus on supporting parents and the important role they play in supporting their children's early development and learning.
  • Approved initiatives include: development and implementation of an early childhood learning curriculum framework, parent resources (including parent kits and website development), early literacy programming, promotional campaign focusing on the early years and play based learning; website development; and evaluation including implementation of the Early Development Instrument (EDI) and an early childhood evaluation framework.
  • Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is identified as the lead department in collaboration with other departments represented on the Ministerial Council for Early Childhood Learning: Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (regulated child care, family resource programs, children's protection); Department of Health and Community Services (child health clinics, early intervention, allied health services); Department of Advanced Education and Skills (colleges and post-secondary institutions) as well as Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat and Labrador Policy Office.

Birth to Three Initiatives

Early childhood learning curriculum framework:

  • Once developed, the early childhood learning curriculum framework will outline a pedagogical approach to early childhood learning with specific emphasis on play based learning, the important role of adults in supporting children's early learning, a holistic approach to children's development and learning, and inclusion.
  • This will also include a priority focus on parent and child interaction in relation to emergent literacy skills and child development targeting infant and children from birth to age eight.
  • The scope of the document has been defined and first draft is under development.
  • The curriculum will provide the overarching and guiding principles for early learning of children across all settings (e.g., regulated child care, family resource programs, early intervention, schools settings, early literacy programming, home).

Birth to Three Year Parent Resource Kits:

  • This is a partnership between the Division of Early Childhood Learning, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Child Health Clinics offered through the regional Health Authorities. Parent Child Health Clinic visits are universally available to all children between birth and their families at 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 months and during the preschool child health clinic at approximately 3 ½ years.
  • Parent Resource Kits have been developed and include a variety of early learning materials. Materials have been selected and/or developed through an inter-departmental resources sub-committee (with representation from departments on the Ministerial Council plus the four Regional Health Authorities).
  • Resources provided are consistent with that currently provided by public health nurses, will support the existing work of public health nurses through provision of take home resources, messaging and early learning materials that will (hopefully) extend the messaging home.
  • Parent resource kits will be provided through regularly scheduled visits with public health nurses at 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months child health clinics.
  • Parent resource kits will also be provided at 24 and 36 months; delivery of these kits is not finalized will likely include multiple delivery options including provision through family resource programs, regulated child care, early intervention and early literacy programs.
  • By the time children reach Kindergarten age, parents/ caregivers will have been provided with a range of early learning resources and developmentally appropriate materials to extend their children's learning and development through everyday activities that they do with their children, at key intervals during the early years. Language and literacy development through play based learning is a priority focus in all kits.
    • e.g., 18 – 20 children's books, play items, cd's with music/nursery rhymes along with age/ developmentally appropriate information, resources, tip sheets and activity guides will be provided focusing on all areas of children's development.
  • Implementation of resource kits will occur over a three year period commencing March, 2012.
    • e.g., 2, 4 and 6 month resource kits are under development and will be piloted through implementation in select child health clinics located throughout the province beginning March, 2012. Provincial implementation of 2, 4 and 6 month kits will occur in 2012-13.

Early Literacy programming:

  • Provincial early literacy programming will be provided through a partnership between the Division of Early Childhood Learning, Department of Education and the 96 provincial public libraries and outreach programs.
  • Work is currently underway in the research and development of early literacy programming that will be delivered for parents / caregivers of children between birth to age three years.
  • Scope of the early literacy programming has been proposed and includes the following:
    • Delivered through multiple offerings of ‘weekly' programming in which small groups of parents /caregivers attend with their children (e.g., 8 – 12 week program blocks offered several times over the course of a calendar year)
    • Provided by trained facilitators (ECE background) who are staff of the public libraries board
    • Includes a program and activity guide supported by early literacy guiding principles (linked to early childhood learning curriculum framework)
    • Implemented in a variety of settings including schools, regulated child care, family resource programs, public libraries and home based for at –risk children and families (location to be determined based on community needs assessment).
    • Includes provision of / access to early literacy resources, information and activities provided at program sites
    • Includes mechanism for access to specialists (SLP, early intervention staff), as required.
    • Reflects guiding principles, proposed to include: inclusive, accessible, developmentally appropriate, important role of parents in supporting their children's development in the early years (parent – child interaction), and everyday activities support early literacy development.
    • Includes an Aboriginal and/or French first language focus, as required
    • Included evaluation component (process and outcome)
  • A Provincial Early Literacy Consultant has recently been hired through the public libraries.
  • Implementation is planned commencing in 2012-13 with pilot implementation of early literacy programming in select communities located throughout the province.

Early Childhood Learning Promotional Campaign

  • A multi-year promotional campaign is currently under development which focuses on key early childhood learning messages and play-based learning. The objectives of this campaign include an increased awareness of early childhood learning and the importance of learning through play, as well as an increased awareness of the parent/caregiver role in children's learning and development during the early years.

Website Development

  • The development of the Early Childhood Learning divisional website is currently underway which will provide parents/caregivers and early learning professionals access to resources and information on early childhood learning. The main objective of this initiative is to improve consistent messages based on best practice research to support the early learning needs of all children. The website will be developed in collaboration with interdepartmental working groups who are key stakeholders in early childhood learning, and will include materials developed for the promotional campaign as well as other resources highlighting best practices in early childhood learning.

Evaluation

(1) Early Childhood Evaluation Framework

  • A logic model and evaluation framework is currently being developed for each of the approved Birth to Three initiatives. The objective of this evaluation framework is to evaluate each initiative through data analysis to ensure the goals and outcomes of these initiatives are met.

(2) EDI Implementation

  • The Early Development Instrument (EDI) measures children's readiness for school. This initiative is currently piloting sites throughout the province with the goal to have provincial implementation of the EDI by 2013. The objective of this initiative is to monitor and report on children's readiness to learn by assessing children's level of development in their first year of school. The data analysis of the EDI findings will give the division an ability to generate a report on how children are developing in terms of their school readiness skills. With this data, a comparative analysis of the EDI findings can be made with other provinces, as well as comparisons within the province.

For further information about any of the above initiatives, please contact:

Mary Goss-Prowse

Director
Early Learning Childhood Development Division
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
3rd Floor, West Block, Confederation Building
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL A1B 4J6
Telephone: 1-709-729-4055
Fax: 1-709-729-1400
 
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