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Category: Early Childhood

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.

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: Emily F. King. Lakehead University
Focus: Early Childhood Educators, Special Education teachers and Administrators

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, this curriculum framework was created outlining both content and process associated with the guiding principles and features essential to include in an Aboriginal special needs early childhood education curriculum.

Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

Summary: Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) in Urban and Northern Communities is a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) – a funded early childhood development program for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and their families. The primary goal of the initiative is to demonstrate that locally controlled and designed early intervention strategies can provide Aboriginal children with a positive sense of themselves, a desire for learning, and opportunities to develop fully as successful young people. There are 125 AHS sites in urban and northern communities across Canada.

AHS projects typically provide half-day preschool experiences that prepare young Aboriginal children for their school years by meeting their spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical needs. All projects provide programming in six core areas: education and school readiness; Aboriginal culture and language; parental involvement; health promotion; nutrition; and, social support.

Projects are locally designed and controlled, and administered by non-profit Aboriginal organizations. AHS directly involves parents and the community in the management and operation of projects. Parents are supported in their role as the child’s first and most influential teacher, and the wisdom of elders is valued.

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