1 Early Learning forEvery Child TodayA framework for Ontarioearly childhood settings Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning December, 2006 A Framework for Ontario s Early childhood Settings 1 Foreword Early Learning for Every Child Today : A Framework for Ontario s Early childhood Settings describes how young children learn and develop and provides a guide for curriculum in Ontario s Early childhood settings, including Child care centres, regulated home Child care, nursery schools, kindergarten, Ontario Early Years Centres, family resource programs, parenting centres, readiness centres, family literacy, Child development programs in CAPC, Healthy Babies Healthy Children and Early intervention services. It is intended to complement, not replace, the Ontario Day Nurseries Act, Ontario Early Years Centre guidelines and the Kindergarten Program.
2 Early Learning for Every Child Today is prepared for use by Early childhood practitioners - Early childhood educators, parenting workers, kindergarten teachers, family support staff, Early interventionists, home care visitors - and other caregivers who are working in Early childhood settings. Early Learning for Every Child Today is a Best Start initiative that emerged from the work of the Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning - a panel of professionals from the Early childhood education and the formal education sectors in Ontario. Best Start is a long-term strategy to design a coherent system for young children. In 2005, the Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning was established to develop an Early Learning framework for formal preschool settings that would link with the Junior/Senior Kindergarten program and, ultimately, to develop a single integrated Early Learning framework for children ages two-and-a-half- to six-years.
3 The work of the Expert Panel on Early Learning supports the immediate and long-term goals of Best Start. The individuals who were invited by the Minister of Children and Youth Services to participate on the Panel, appreciated the opportunity to share their expertise and support the Ontario government s Best Start vision. Dr. Pat Dickinson prepared the international curriculum framework review that guided the Panel s work (see Appendix 1) and made significant contributions to the development of Early Learning for Every Child Today . The Panel received knowledgeable and responsive support from Karen Chandler, Lynne Livingstone and the rest of the Best Start team at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The collaborative relationship among Ministry staff and panel members were essential to the completion of this document.
4 The Panel also benefited from the participation of representatives from the Ministry of Education and the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. A Framework for Ontario s Early childhood Settings 2 The Early Learning for Every Child Today is based on an extensive review of Early childhood curriculum and pedagogy in Canada and internationally, research findings, and the collective professional expertise of the Panel members. Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning Chair: Jane Bertrand, Executive Director, Atkinson Centre for Society and Child Development, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto Dr. Judith Bernhard, Professor, School of Early childhood Education, Ryerson University Jan Blaxall, Professor, Early childhood Education Program, Fanshawe College Jaynane Burning Fields, Children s Initiatives Manager, Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres Mary Gordon, President/Founder, Roots of Empathy Marie Goulet, Professor, Faculty of Early childhood Development, George Brown College Janice Greenberg, Program Manager, Learning , Language and Loving It Program, The Hanen Centre Jos e Latulippe, Pr sident, Association francophone l ducation des services l enfance de l Ontario Joan Littleford, Executive Assistant, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario Claire Maltais, Facult d ducation, Universit d Ottawa Dr.
5 Jannette Pelletier, Professor, Institute of Child Study, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto Dr. Bonnie Schmidt, President, Let s Talk Science Kathy Thompson, Consultants/Co-ordinators Association of Primary Educators, District School Board of Niagara Petr Varmuza, Director, Organizational Effectiveness, Children s Services, City of Toronto Louise Zimanyi, The Consultative Group on Early childhood Care and Development, Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University A Framework for Ontario s Early childhood Settings 3 Table of Contents Foreword 1 Introduction 5 Statement of Principles 8 Understanding Children s Development 22 Into Practice 56 Assessment, Evaluation and Monitoring 62 Glossary 67 References 75 Appendix 1.
6 International Curriculum Framework Review 82 A Framework for Ontario s Early childhood Settings 4 Introduction Every Child has the right to the best possible childhood . Ontario s vision is to make Ontario an international leader in achieving the social, intellectual, economic, physical and emotional potential of all its children. To make this vision a reality, the Ontario government launched its Best Start Plan in November, 2004. Ontario s Best Start Plan puts the central recommendation of the Early Years Study (McCain & Mustard, 1999) into action to create a first tier for children 0 to 6 years. Early Learning for Every Child Today is a Best Start resource developed for Ontario Early childhood settings that are the building blocks of the Best Start system. Purpose Early Learning for Every Child Today is a guide to support curriculum and pedagogy in Ontario s Early childhood settings, including Child care centres, kindergarten classrooms, home Child care, nursery schools, Ontario Early Years Centres and other family support programs, and Early intervention services.
7 It is a living document that will continue to evolve as Early childhood practitioners working in Early childhood settings use it. The Early Learning for Every Child Today complements, rather than replaces, specific curricular and pedagogical approaches, Early identification protocols and regulated requirements now in place in Ontario Early childhood settings. It also provides direction for programs that do not have an explicit curriculum or consistent pedagogical approach. It features a continuum of developmental skills and a shared language that will support Early childhood practitioners and caregivers as they work together across Early childhood settings. Context The Best Start strategy intends to transform and consolidate programs and services for young children (from birth to entry into Grade 1) into a coherent, responsive system.
8 One of the components of that system is a common framework that lays out in a way that is relevant to all Early childhood programs what and how young children learn. The Expert Panel members collaborated to create Early Learning for Every Child Today . At the beginning of its mandate, the panel members identified their shared beliefs about Early Learning that guided discussions and the development of Early Learning for Every Child Today ..What we envision will be a first tier program for Early Child development, as important as the elementary and secondary school system and the post-secondary education system. The system should consist of community-based centres operating at the local level and linked to local schools within a provincial Early Years StudyMcCain & Mustard, 1999. p.
9 20 A Framework for Ontario s Early childhood Settings 5 A comprehensive international review of Early childhood curricular approaches in fourteen jurisdictions drew attention to components that were particularly relevant to the Ontario context (Dickinson, 2006). The review considered approaches that espoused a developmental approach, were prepared within the last 10 years and recognized specific needs of diverse groups including newcomers, refugees, special needs, additional language, and Indigenous populations. The findings of the review guided the panel to: Acknowledge that care and Learning are inseparable concepts. Since all quality Early childhood settings provide both care and education, a caring, nurturing environment that supports Learning and Early development is and essential component of a framework for Early Learning Maintain a focus on a framework for curriculum and pedagogy rather than develop a specific curriculum.
10 Focus on commonly used, broad categories of development: physical, social, emotional, communication/language and cognitive. Situate children within the context of a developmental continuum that extends from birth to age eight years rather than evaluate their performance against age-related expectations Recognize multiple sources of evidence and points of view about children s growth and Learning Prepare a practical document for Early childhood professionals working in all types of Early childhood settings. Align the framework with the revised Kindergarten Program, Guidelines for Ontario Early Years Centres, Guidelines for Preschool Speech and Language Programs, and the 18-Month Well Baby Visit. Panel members contributed their professional expertise and research findings to the project.