British Columbian children ages eight and under will have access to high-quality early learning experiences that will help ensure they are successful from infancy, thanks to the release of a new provincial early learning guide.
In response to significant developments in the social, political, economic and cultural context of B.C. — creating new realities for children, families and communities — the Early Learning Framework was recently revised. It now offers a host of new perspectives on education, as well as tools and resources to help young learners be successful.
“The revised Early Learning Framework is receiving national and international attention for its potential to make a positive difference in the lives of our province’s early learners,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “We are focusing on providing accessible high-quality early learning opportunities to all British Columbian children and making sure education professionals, parents and caregivers have the knowledge required to support kids to move forward positively through their K-12 studies to reach their full potential.”
Developed in consultation with more than 600 early child care and education stakeholders, and Indigenous partners (including representatives from the First Nations Education Steering Committee, Métis Nation BC and the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society), for the first time, the framework has a focus on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and inclusion for children with diverse abilities. The revised framework expands the focus to children from infancy to eight years of age (formerly birth to five years of age), integrates theory with practice and reflects the modernized kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum.
The framework advocates for the importance of young children's development and learning through all learning environments — from StrongStart BC programs and primary classrooms to child care settings, preschools and other early childhood development or child health programs. In addition, it guides early learning programs and activities, encourages discussion with families about their child’s early learning and shapes professional development.
The changes are intended to improve B.C. children's access to consistent quality care and early childhood education programs and activities, no matter where they live. Associated resources provide information intended to guide education professionals, parents and caregivers on how to engage early learners in activities that will set them up for success.
The Early Learning Framework is providing the foundation for the Ministry of Education’s first Early Learning and Child Care Summit. The summit will bring together 225 representatives from B.C. school districts and early learning, child care, education and Indigenous groups at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre on Nov. 8, 2019.
Conference attendees will hear from international early learning and child care experts and will offer feedback on before- and after-school care options currently being considered by government. The ministry will work with school districts to provide new before- and after-school child care spaces on school grounds independently or in partnership with licensed operators, ensuring more families have access to quality care.
“The early years are key to a child’s development — it’s in those years that the majority of a child’s brain development happens,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development. “By encouraging child care to be offered in our schools and making early learning a foundation of the education curriculum, we are creating an inclusive, safe environment for children to learn the skills that will carry them to success throughout their lives.”
To support the implementation of the revised framework, Fleming announced the Province is investing $1.28 million so education professionals throughout B.C. will be better supported to help young children from birth to eight years of age build a strong foundation for learning. Grants will go out to public school districts to support early learning educators at StrongStart BC centres to participate in early learning professional development activities.
In addition, the funding will support district capacity building through two early learning programs focused on enabling school districts to help improve the social, emotional and learning outcomes for early learners. Grants will be distributed to school districts participating in the Changing Results for Young Children (CR4YC) and Strengthening Early Years to Kindergarten Transitions (SEY2KT) programs. The United Way of the Lower Mainland will also receive a grant as part of its involvement in CR4YC.
“To help our kids thrive, we need to make sure that our educators have the tools and resources they need to bring learning to life in the classroom,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “These grants will make it easier for early care and learning professionals to keep up with best practices and provide B.C. kids with a smooth transition from child care to schools across the province.”