Thank You to Our Early Childhood Educators
May is Early Childhood Education Month and May 13th was Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day. The importance of Early Childhood Educators cannot be understated. Studies show that up to 90 per cent of a child’s brain is developed by age five. While in-class learning for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students has been suspended due to COVID-19, many Early Childhood Educators are on the front lines in childcare centres, nurturing the children of those we appreciate as our essential workers.
It probably doesn’t surprise constituents that I consider early childhood supports a priority. Debbie and I have pre-school age grandchildren and before the COVID-19 isolation, they were often with us at family-friendly events around Moose Jaw. It’s a tremendous privilege to be able to be part of the lives of our grandchildren.
It was also a privilege to attend the grand re-opening of the Northwest Child Development Centre in early March. The centre expanded from a 39-space facility to a larger 75-space newly renovated building, providing additional early learning and childcare services for young families. The Ministry of Education provided a total of $282,000 to assist with this expansion.
Early Learning in Saskatchewan falls under the mandate of the Ministry of Education and includes childcare and pre-school support programs. The 2020-21 spending estimates provide $98 million for childcare and early learning. The government has increased the number of childcare spaces by 76 per cent since 2007 and intends to establish childcare centres in new school builds in the province where appropriate.
Early Childhood Educators make literacy an essential part of their work. Helping a child learn in their early years prepares them for future achievements like high school graduation and a fulfilling career. Primary caregivers are the first teachers in a child’s life and everyday activities like talking, reading, playing games, picking up toys or cooking can be opportunities to grow together. The “Play. Learn. Grow Together” program was developed as a public education program which provides parents and guardians of newborn to Kindergarten-aged children with easy-to-use tips and information to help enhance family learning at home. The webpage and family-friendly videos can be found online at www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/education-and-learning/prek-12-education-early-learning-and-schools/early-years-learning.
These days, when many parents are spending more time at home with their children, it is a good time to get into the habit of reading and literacy development. Making reading a scheduled part of every day helps to develop that habit. Literacy development can happen anytime, anywhere with games such as “I Spy”. Our local library is physically closed at present but continues to offer online programming and many digital literacy options.
Literacy includes exploring new places, ideas and activities together. A friend mentioned to me one day of being on a walk, and seeing a toddler, closely supervised by the parent, exploring a culvert and the structures around it. He immediately thought, “Now there’s a budding civil engineer.” This child’s opportunity to explore now will make a difference in his adult life.
Our government is committed to helping all Saskatchewan children get a good start in life. Early Childhood Educators are essential to make that happen. Please join me in thanking Early Childhood Educators who make such a tremendous difference in the lives of families; and work so diligently to support our youngest citizens.