Early Years Learning

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(Note: this information is also referred to in the “People Getting Started in the Niagara Community” Sector of this report, as it relates to people starting out as infants and children in Niagara.)

Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYC’s), Family Resource Centres, Family Resource Programs and Parent and Family Literacy Centres (PFLC’s) in Niagara
The provincial Ministry of Education funds over 20 OEYC’s, satellite sites and mobile units, as well as 5 PFLC’s, all in priority neighbourhoods around Niagara. These centres provide free programs and services targeted to children and families, with activities designed to stimulate children’s brain development and give them a head start in building learning and literacy skills.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Education, Ontario Early Years Centres
Retrieved From: www.oeyc.edu.gov.on.ca

Source: DSBN, Parenting and Family Literacy Centres
Retrieved From: www.dsbn.edu.on.ca/pflc/

Full Day Kindergarten
As of Fall, 2014, Full-Day Kindergarten is available at all elementary schools in Ontario. Research conducted by McMaster’s and Queens universities for the Ontario Ministry of Education shows the value of early learning for improving students’ readiness for Grade 1 and accelerating their development. Specifically, social competence, language and cognitive development and communication skills and general knowledge development are positively affected.

Full-Day Kindergarten Study Evaluation

Background:
A study of full-day kindergarten (FDK) was conducted in partnership with Queen’s and McMaster universities from 2010-2012.

The purpose of this research was to measure the impact of FDK, and to help identify effective practices to improve the delivery of the program moving forward.

Quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods such as data collection, case studies, phone interviews, online surveys, classroom observation and focus groups were used in schools across the province over the two-year period.

The current quantitative results focus on data from 690 children – 52 per cent girls, 48 per cent boys – from 125 participating schools:

  • 257 children were enrolled in FDK for two years (junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten)
  • 223 children who were enrolled in one year of FDK (non-FDK in junior kindergarten; FDK in senior kindergarten)
  • 210 children who had no exposure to FDK.

The Early Development Instrument (EDI), which is a UNESCO-reviewed measurement of early childhood development, was used to measure child development in the following five areas:

  • Physical health and well-being
  • Social competence
  • Emotional maturity
  • Language and cognition
  • Communication skills and general knowledge

Key findings from the analysis include:

Overall, students in FDK are better prepared to enter Grade 1 and to be more successful in school – see Full Day Kindergarten infographic

In every area, students improved their readiness for Grade 1 and accelerated their development.

Comparisons of children with two years of FDK instruction and children with no FDK instruction showed that FDK:

  • reduced risks in social competence development from 10.5 per cent to 5.8 per cent
  • reduced risks in language and cognitive development from 15.8 per cent to 4.3 per cent
  • reduced risks in communication skills and general knowledge development from 10.5 per cent to 5.8 per cent

Source: Ontario Ministry of Education
Retrieved From: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/kindergarten/theresearchisin.html

A Meta-Perspective on the Evaluation of Full-day Kindergarten during the First Two Years of Implementation is an integrative, evaluation report that was informed by: The Social Program Evaluation Group – Queen’s University Final Report: Evaluation of the Implementation of the Ontario Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program, Fall 2012 and the Offord Centre for Child Studies – McMaster University The Full Day Kindergarten Early Learning Program Final Report, October 2012; and the Ministry of Education, Government of Ontario.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Education
Retrieved From: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/a-meta-perspective-on-the-evaluation-of-full-day-kindergarten-during-the-first-two-years-of-implementation/

The Early Development Instrument (EDI)
This tool for monitoring children’s development is used by Kindergarten teachers in Ontario, to gather information that is submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Education. The EDI is a population measure of children’s developmental health and well-being at school entry. The EDI measures child development in five areas: physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development and communication skills and general knowledge.

The Early Development Instrument: a Tool for Monitoring Student Development and Readiness for School provides background information about EDI.

Source: Offord Centre
Retrieved From: http://www.offordcentre.com/readiness/files/PUB.11.2006_Janus.pdf

Niagara Children’s Planning Council Parent Survey
The Niagara Children’s Planning Council (NCPC) is a public private collaboration that has existed since 1998 to enhance the lives of children and families within Niagara Region. Its goal is to provide leadership and planning to ensure that all children in Niagara have the opportunity to reach their full potential and succeed in life. NCPC is the local provincially-mandated Best Start Network.

NCPC brings together government, education, early learning, child care services, community services, early identification services, intervention services, health and specialized services, community leaders and the private sector to provide leadership, planning and coordination to ensure it reaches its goal.

The Niagara Parent Knowledge Study was conducted by the NCPC Research Group during four weeks from January 14 to February 10, 2014. The goal of the project was to fill the information gap about Niagara parent’s knowledge about child growth and development.

The online survey reached just under 1600 Niagara parents of children 0-6. Even though 96.3% of parents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am confident in the knowledge that I have of my child’s growth and development” their actual knowledge of children’s growth and development diminished as children aged. Parents seemed to know a lot about very young children (between 0 to 6 months) but as their child aged their knowledge of their child’s growth and development diminished.

Source: Niagara Children’s Planning Council Niagara Parent Knowledge Study Executive Summary
Retrieved From: http://www.niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/resources-publications/niagara-parent-knowledge-study-executive-summary/

Poverty, Learning and Education Attainment in the Niagara Context
Niagara-wide community partners are gaining broader insight into ways poverty affects learning and education attainment in Niagara. The extent to which students have access to personal resources affects their ability to gain essential workplace skills such as technological literacy, interpersonal communications, and self-directed learning.

“Are the Consequences of Poverty Holding Niagara Back?” is a 2012 policy brief prepared by the Niagara Community Observatory in collaboration with Niagara Connects and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board. It states, “The total social transfer, private cost, and social cost of the consequences of poverty in Niagara is $1.38 billion per year. It illustrates that the consequences of poverty in Niagara affect everyone, and points out that “…focusing on an investment strategy that emphasizes the development of human capacity can reduce the cost of the consequences of poverty in Niagara”.

The brief shows that in 2006 in Niagara, there were 66,202 people living in the lowest income quintile (with annual income of $12,000/year or less). People with the highest poverty rates in Niagara include recent immigrants, persons with disabilities and single mothers, and generally they have lower levels of education and skills training than people with higher levels of income.

The brief cites the Niagara Prosperity Initiative 2007 report, “A Legacy of Poverty? Addressing Cycles of Poverty and the Impact on Child Health in Niagara Region” and “Building a New Legacy: Increasing Prosperity for Niagara Residents by Improving the Quality of Neighbourhood Life”. They outline four components of a Poverty Reduction Action Plan for Niagara, which include, “Mitigate the negative effects of low income on children and youth through programs and services”.

Source: Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University
Retrieved From: http://niagaraknowledgeexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Policy-Brief-Poverty-Holding-Niagara-Back.pdf

Niagara Nutrition Partners
Niagara Nutrition Partners provides 208 coordinated nutrition programs in elementary and secondary schools, as well as community-based programs throughout Niagara.

A total of 13,000 Niagara children and youth are nourished each day, to optimize their academic and behavioural performance during the school day, and help them learn healthy eating habits for their life. Provincial grants and local fundraising efforts support this work.

The connection between healthy food choices and improved learning through the provision of breakfast, lunch and snacks at school or community-based programs is promoted.

Source: Niagara Nutrition Partners
Retrieved From: http://www.niagaranutritionpartners.ca/

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