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Category: Early Childhood

The Impact of Early Numeracy Engagement on 4 year old Indigenous students

Source: Elizabeth Warren, Janelle Young, Australian Catholic University, Eva de Vries,
Independent Schools Queensland

Summary: Young Indigenous Australian students continue to experience difficulties at school, especially in the areas of literacy and numeracy. Results from the National Report on Schooling, National Benchmarks for reading, writing and numeracy in Years 3, 5 and 7 demonstrate a high percentage of Indigenous Australian children performing well below the benchmark (ACER, 2005; MCEETYA, 2008). The latest National Report on Schooling in Australia (MCEETYA, 2008) includes the following results for Indigenous students obtained from testing in 2006. Seventy-two per cent of Indigenous Queensland students are achieving at the benchmark for numeracy in Year 3. This is significantly below their achievement in both reading (88.5%) and writing (89.7%), and also significantly below the achievement of Indigenous students in five other states. Similar trends exist in the National Scores. While reading and writing scores have been gradually improving for Indigenous students since 1999, there has been little change in the numeracy results. The Year 5 and Year 7 numeracy results mirror the results found in Year 3.

Unjustified blame has been laid upon Indigenous students in the past, and absenteeism, disadvantaged social background and culture have all be seen as contributing factors (Bourke & Rigby, 2000). This paradigm is seen as irresponsible (Cooper, Baturo, Warren, & Doig, 2004; Matthews, Howard & Perry, 2003; Sarra, 2003). Historically, most educational efforts have aimed to assimilate Indigenous students into Euro Australian society and are based on the ideology of cultural deprivation (Prochner, 2004). Our longitudinal research project, Young Australian Indigenous students’ Literacy and Numeracy (YAILN) draws on and adapts relevant mainstream research about young students’ numeracy learning, and endeavours to situate these findings in local settings where Indigenous cultural practices are recognised and respected. To date, there have been few published studies on the impact of early childhood education on Indigenous students (Prochner, 2004).

The Early Learning Experiences of Inuit, Métis and Off-reserve First Nations Children Canada

Source: Statistics Canada, Anne Guèvremont

Summary: The early learning experiences of off-reserve First Nations children in Canada

This fact sheet provides an early learning profile of off-reserve First Nations children under the age of six in Canada. The 2006 Aboriginal Children’s Survey is used to provide broad indicators of young off-reserve First Nations children’s experiences with learning. Data include how they learn about words and traditional activities and who helps them learn. Family characteristics associated with participation in early learning activities are also presented.

The early learning experiences of Métis children in Canada

This fact sheet provides an early learning profile of Métis children under the age of six in Canada. The 2006 Aboriginal Children’s Survey is used to provide broad indicators of young Métis children’s experiences with learning. Data include how they learn about words and traditional activities and who helps them learn. Family characteristics associated with participation in early learning activities are also presented.

The early learning experiences of Inuit children in Canada

This fact sheet provides an early learning profile of Inuit children under the age of six in Canada. The 2006 Aboriginal Children’s Survey is used to provide broad indicators of young Inuit children’s experiences with learning. Data include how they learn about words and traditional activities and who helps them learn. Family characteristics associated with participation in early learning activities are also presented.

Aboriginal Early Learning and Child Care: Policy Issues

Source: Childcare Information Resource Collection (CIRC)

Summary: As Canada’s Aboriginal groups have larger than average child populations, early learning and child care (ELCC) is a critical policy issue. Developing ELCC policy that is flexible to accommodate the diverse needs of the Aboriginal community and maintains their indigenous culture is a major concern for all Aboriginal peoples. There is a strong call for an Aboriginal controlled and sustainable ELCC system that adopts a culturally appropriate approach.

In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended that:

federal, provincial, and territorial governments co-operate to support an integrated early childhood funding strategy that

  1. extends early childhood education to all Aboriginal children regardless of residence;
  2. encourages programs that foster the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual development of children, reducing distinctions between child care, prevention and education;
  3. maximizes Aboriginal control over service design and administration;
  4. offers one-stop accessible funding; and e) promotes parental involvement and choice in early childhood education options.

Almost a decade later in 2005, the beginnings of a national early learning and child care program were laid down through a $5 billion/five year initiative, of which $100 million over five years has been earmarked for First Nations on-reserve ELCC. As Canadian child care is finally set for expansion, ELCC in the more than 600 First Nations and in other Aboriginal communities in Canada becomes a vital issue for policy discussion.

This Issue File is intended to promote discussion about how Aboriginal child care features within Canada’s ELCC system.

This list in not intended to be an exhaustive examination of this topic; for a more comprehensive list, search the Childcare Resource and Research Unit resource library catalogue Childcare Information Reference Collection (CIRC).

Children as citizens of First Nations: Linking Indigenous health to early childhood development

Source: Margo Greenwood, ABD. University of Northern British Columbia. Paediatric Child Health. 2005 November; 10(9): 553–555.

Summary: If Aboriginal children are to become well and healthy adults who meaningfully contribute to their communities and broader society (in other words, if Aboriginal children are to become healthy citizens of their Nations and the world), it is imperative that they are well versed in the fundamental values of their histories and cultures.

According to the author, one cannot examine the health and well-being of Aboriginal children without understanding and acknowledging their unique social, political and historical context. In Canada, Aboriginal children are born into a colonial legacy: low socioeconomic status, intergenerational trauma associated with residential schooling, high rates of substance abuse, increased incidents of interaction with the criminal justice system, and extensive loss of language and culture are but a few of the indicators suggesting the immediate need for health promotion in Indigenous communities. Aboriginal children’s growth and development, particularly growth and development that fosters and promotes cultural strength, congruency and citizenship, is at the forefront of addressing these health disparities. A sense of cultural continuity in Indigenous peoples and communities builds resiliency and results in demonstrated reductions of negative health outcomes, including youth suicide.

Given the overwhelming need to improve Indigenous health in Canada, and given both the evidentiary foundation of improving their health through holistic health promotion strategies and the link between early childhood development and overall societal health, it is only logical to situate considerations of Indigenous health within discussions regarding the care and education of young Aboriginal children.

Early Childhood Education and Care Policy in Canada

Source: OECD Directorate for Education in Canada

Summary: The report is the outcome of an intensive review of early childhood policies and services in Canada by an OECD review team in September/October 2003. The review was initiated by an invitation to the OECD Directorate for Education from the Department of Social Development, Canada, and centred on the provinces of Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Chapter 1: the Introduction outlines the goals and framework of the OECD early childhood education and care (ECEC) reviews. A premise of the OECD approach is that the development of young children depends greatly on equitable social structures, on energetic public management and financing of the sector; and on the informed practice of qualified professionals who provide – in a caring environment – structured environments and programmes appropriate for young children.

Chapter 2: Contextual issues shaping ECEC policies in Canada, is descriptive in emphasis, and describes Canadian demographic developments, women’s participation in the labour market, social and economic issues, and other factors related to the organisation of early childhood services.

Chapter 3: Current ECEC policy and provision in Canada, outlines the key features of the current system. It describes the broad structure of the services, regulatory procedures, funding, access and provision, staffing and training, research and monitoring. It examines how these indicators compare with one another across different forms of provision and among different groups. It also describes recent policy initiatives at both federal and provincial levels, with a special section devoted to the four provinces reviewed.

Chapter 4: Issues for ECEC in Canada explores the coherence of current policies from the point of view of quality, access and equity. It considers in particular the situation of Aboriginal children, and challenging organisational and financing issues.

Chapter 5: Conclusions and recommendations. This final chapter puts forward for consideration by the Canadian authorities a number of suggestions and recommendations. They are based on first-hand observation of services and on discussions with the ministries and the major stakeholders in the early childhood field in Canada.

First Nations English Dialects: Implications for Supporting First Nations Children’s Development

Source: Early Childhood Development – Intercultural Partnerships, Jessica Ball & Barbara Bernhardt, Principal Investigators

Summary: Project Background

Research involving Indigenous peoples outside of Canada emphasizes the influences of Indigenous language learning and cultural aspects of language socialization on English

conversational style and dialect. Dialect learning and features of language mediated interaction using varieties of the dominant language have implications for education, developmental assessment, early intervention, cultural preservation and justice issues. There is an emerging awareness that the heritage languages, language socialization, and cultures of Aboriginal peoples living in Canada influence the ways in which Aboriginal children and families use English, as well as their experiences within dominant culture institutions such as schools. As a group, Aboriginal children and youth have not been as successful as they could be in the school system. This may be because of a lack of appreciation by preschool and school teachers for conversational styles, preferences, and expectations surrounding the use of English by Aboriginal children and youth.

Project Goal

This exploratory project has successfully stimulated broader interest within the fields of

linguistics and education in the nature of Aboriginal English dialects, and has begun to raise awareness of the need to appreciate the language skills that Aboriginal children may possess although they may be using a variant of English not familiar to members of the dominant culture. The project has contributed a comprehensive review of the extant literature on Aboriginal English dialects, and has formulated some general principles and specific strategies for future researchers to engage this topic through language sampling and analysis.

Get Ready, Get Set, Get Going: Learning to Read in Northern Canada

Source: Julia O’Sullivan, Ph.D., Janet Goosney with the International Expert Panel Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special Needs, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada 2007

Summary: Canada’s North is an immense region crossing six time zones, inhabited by a young, culturally and linguistically diverse population living in communities that differ immensely in size and economic base. For this paper we define the North as Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Labrador, and large northern areas of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

In Canada there are 1,980,605 young school-age children; 133,405 (or 6.7%) live in the North.

Like five- to nine-year-olds in the rest of Canada, young northern children spend much of their time focused on learning to read. Today in Canada we expect all children to read well, usually by the end of Grade 3 and children’s reading at that time is a strong predictor of high school graduation.

Children who do not read adequately by Grade 3 are at high risk for school failure, dropping out, chronic un- or underemployment, and low-income and associated difficulties in adulthood.

The timeframe for learning to read well must take into account the child’s language of instruction, the language that is the both medium (that children learn through) and the object (that children learn about) of instruction. For many northern children it is the language of their home and of the community. For others, it represents a second language. The timeframe for learning to read well will vary depending on the language of instruction context.

This report describes the learning opportunities young northern children need to get ready, get set, and get going on the road to reading success by:

  • Outlining learning opportunities, then summarizing world-wide research evidence and describing the northern context;
  • Drawing on success stories from Canada’s North and from its northern neighbours to the east and west, and identifying evidence-based best principles that can be used to guide decisionmaking about frameworks that support early reading; and
  • Providing recommendations to help move these best principles into widespread use in the North.

A Training Curriculum for Early Childhood Education Educators in the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities; Head Start Program Working with Special Needs

Source: Centres of Excellence for Children’s Well Being: Children and Adolescents with Special Needs: Lakehead University – Emily F. King
Focus: Educators of Children with Special Needs

Summary: This report emphasizes the need for special needs training in Aboriginal communities and highlights the importance of developing a framework which is founded on Indigenous ways of knowing. Six Guiding Principles were established, emphasizing traditional elements that need to guide the process of curriculum creation. Traditional elements of particular importance to participants included the need to recognize the many important roles of Elders within the community, the need for experiential learning to be central to a developed curriculum, and the recognition and identification of Indigenous ways of knowing which should guide all curriculum implementation and programming.

Drawing from these Principles, a curriculum framework was created outlining both content and process associated with the guiding principles. The framework serves to further articulate the specific items roundtable participants thought essential to include in an Aboriginal special needs early childhood education curriculum.

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