Early childhood education in Canada is fast growing but not all programs are created equal, in terms of quality and child development. The late 1940s saw the introduction of programs across the country. They were often modeled after the values of the sponsoring organization. By the 1950s, however, they had begun to improve.


Early learning curriculum frameworks

The federal Early Learning and Child Care Framework recognizes the progress made by provinces and territories in developing their early learning systems. The Framework requires governments to work together to ensure that concrete results are achieved and reported. It does not, however, displace existing federal funding for early learning. The governments will determine how to use the funds to meet the Framework’s objectives.

The frameworks are intended to guide educators working with young children, from early childhood educators to primary school principals and university students studying early childhood education. They also help to create a common language and understanding of the importance of early learning.

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Research and innovation in the sector

Early childhood education is a critical period for children’s development. This is a time when children learn to express their emotions and develop their social skills. Research into early childhood education helps identify ways to improve early childhood programs. In Canada, funding for projects such as this is available from a variety of sources.

Innovation is an important component of early childhood education. It is the keystone to improving quality. Yet only two in 10 children are enrolled in high-quality early childhood settings.


Impact of curriculum frameworks on pedagogy

Curriculum frameworks are documents that set out common developmental goals and activities for children. Depending on the jurisdiction, these frameworks are intended for infant and toddler programs, preschool and kindergarten programs, or both. However, they do not provide the same curriculum for all children.

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Early learning curriculum frameworks are intended to support pedagogical practice in ECEC programs. They are based on the principles of early learning and encourage educators to engage with families and the community. They also emphasize relationships, intentionality, diversity, and experiences in the learning process.


Impact of PTs on children’s learning

The federal government is making significant investments in early childhood education in Canada. These investments are intended to help improve the quality of early childhood programs. Specifically, the federal government is working with provinces, territories and Indigenous governments to develop and implement policies that support early childhood educators. The role of early childhood educators is multifaceted: they implement curriculum, design learning environments, observe and document children’s progress, and develop positive relationships with families. There are nine levels of professional certification for early childhood educators in Canada.

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Financial subsidies for families have been offered since the mid-1970s. These financial subsidies are now being expanded as PTs signal their intention to move toward universal childcare access. In addition, new initiatives introduced by PTs will establish a set fee for parents and a reduced fee for all age groups in 2021. The new initiatives will also provide substantial PT funding to home-based and regulated programs.