New report from People for Education calls for change to early learning and childcare
Report finds lack of coordination between levels of education has a negative impact on children and their futures
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Toronto (July 26, 2021) People for Education is calling for substantial policy change so that vital early learning and childcare is embedded in public education systems.
The organization’s new report, Connecting the Dots: Early years as the starting point for a continuum of learning, examined evidence in Canada and Europe, including results from surveys of more than 1,000 Ontario principals. Among the findings:
- 84% of Ontario elementary schools with high average family incomes have childcare on site, compared to 66% of schools with the lowest average family incomes.
- Vital skills developed in quality early learning and childcare programs – critical and creative thinking, curiosity, collaboration, and communications – tend to “fade out” after children complete elementary school because of the lack of coordination between education systems.
- Researchers who tracked students from early childhood to adulthood, found that students’ social-emotional and creativity competencies at school entry were stronger predictors of success up to 16 years later, than their grade 1 marks.
Report calls for change
According to the report, early childhood education is the basis upon which all other learning rests. Research shows children who have access to quality early learning and childcare programs are often better prepared for kindergarten, elementary and secondary school. They develop vital skills for the future, including critical and creative thinking, curiosity, collaboration, and communications skills. In addition, early learning and childcare provide a critical boost for children who may arrive in kindergarten unprepared for learning. Without this safety net, gaps identified at school entry only grow wider over the course of a student’s education.
Early learning and childcare is often considered an adjunct, separate from the rest of the education systems in Canada, and policies concerning early learning are usually developed completely separately from K-12 education policy. This policy gap and lack of coherence is problematic because data suggest the skills children develop in early learning diminish as they go through the elementary system at least in part as a result of the lack of coordination between education systems. The lack of alignment between early years education and K-12 is mirrored further down the continuum where post-secondary institutions have different goals and outcome measures than K-12.
The report recommends that early learning be embedded into the funding, policies and learning goals of the whole education system.
Success in the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” requires new skills – and they start in early childhood
A scan of international reports focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution reveals agreement among experts who say that success will require a focus on a new set of competencies, knowledge, and skills including the ability to communicate, collaborate, self-advocate, self-regulate, and problem-solve – all skills that are established early in life, and all skills that are nurtured in high quality early learning and childcare systems.
Early learning and high-quality childcare are crucial first steps not just for the child, the family, and the community, but for Canada as a whole as it navigates its way into the future.
Time to connect the dots
The federal government’s spring budget with its 5-year, $30-billion commitment to childcare is a vital first step, as are the bi-lateral agreements for quality early learning and childcare recently established with British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
“Canada needs to ‘connect the dots’ across education systems to promote a continuum of learning starting in the early years to K-12, and beyond. To ensure an effective coherent continuum of learning, early learning and childcare must be publicly funded, publicly governed, and embedded in our public education systems.”
Annie Kidder, Executive Director, People for Education
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