What would we do if we knew the true cost of the choices we make? A bottle of water can cost up to 10,000 times more than tap water. One Google search is equivalent to the energy it takes to make one cup of tea.
This was the question Jim Grieve, assistant deputy minister of Early Learning Division, Ministry of Education, Ontario, asked the audience to consider as he spoke about the value of healthy children during the last keynote address at the Imagine our Future conference.
Citing fellow guest speaker, Nobel laureate Dr. James Heckman, Grieve pointed out that investing in children yields a 7:1 return. With that kind of return, there is little reason not to invest in children. He believes that this investment will kick-start the plateau Canada (and much of the world) is having in terms of increases in lifespan versus increases in income.
Music and the early years make for some sweet harmonies when it comes to children’s brain development. That’s the guiding principle behind the Community Music Education Program (CMEP).
“Music has a profound effect on how the brain gets wired,” says program manager Nicole Wilton Elliott.
For 25 years, the CMEP has been giving children exposure to music right from the earliest years. The program is part of the University of Saskatchewan’s Centre for Continuing & Distance Education.
The different classes for kids aged 0-6 not only give participants an early start towards enjoying and playing music but also help physical, emotional and cognitive development. The faculty, all teachers and musicians, offer classes to children and parents such as Parenting with Music, Music in Early Childhood, Suzuki Early Childhood Music, instrument lessons, choir and summer camps.
There is also a music therapy component to the program. Parent Heather Callendar has a four-and-a-half-month-old son, Cole, with autism. When she first started bringing him, he resisted going to the class, but she persisted. One day at home months later, he started humming one of the tunes from the class and doing the movements, and he also wanted to interact with his mother. Callendar credits the program for the changes she’s seen in her son in a short time.
“The program has provided a non-threatening, fun environment for Cole,” she says.
A local program in which babies and their moms bond with elementary school students is celebrating its first successful year in the province.
Roots of Empathy (ROE) is a classroom program that aims to reduce levels of aggression among schoolchildren and, at the same time, raise their social/emotional competence and increase empathy.
Parents and babies, educators, ROE instructors and others gathered at the Saskatoon YWCA on April 25 to mark the program’s first year. CBC and Global TV were on hand to cover the event.
The Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Association for Young Children (CAYC) is inviting people over for “Coffee and Conversation” on Saturday, April 28.
Join CAYC for an exploration of a play-based curriculum in a multi-age family child care home setting, Jadranka's Family Child Care Group Home in Saskatoon. In addition to the tour, there will be an intimate conversation about advocacy in early learning and child care facilitated by kidSKAN’s Sue Delanoy.
Our hostess Jadranka Pocrnic came from Croatia 19 years ago with a university degree in Early Childhood Education. She has been actively involved with many ECE organizations, both locally and provincially. She is the co-chair of the Saskatchewan Association of Child Care Homes Initiative Corporation, director on the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association board and was chosen for the CCCF Leadership Caucus. For the past 18 years with her two sons, Josip and Andrew, she has worked to better the profession.
More than a quarter of Canadian children lack all the developmental assets they need by the time they reach kindergarten. This has effects on everything from children’s brain development to their success as adults.
In fact, Canada ranked last among industrialized countries on a UNICEF report card for early childhood development, meeting only one of its 10 benchmarks.
The role of gender in educating kids was the subject of a debate on CBC Radio’s Q recently. (The podcast of the March 14 episode is available on the Q site.)
The show featured author and educator Michael Reist, who had been on CBC Saskatchewan’s Blue Sky earlier this year, as well as author and academic Rosalind Chait Barnett. The two provided differing points of view concerning how big a role gender should play in raising and teaching children, whether the differences are as pronounced as is commonly believed and whether this is a new form of stereotyping.
Barnett is a senior scientist at the Brandeis University’s Women's Studies Research Center and executive director of its Community, Families & Work Program (CFWP). She has written or collaborated on more than 115 published articles, 36 chapters and seven books. Her most recent book, Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs, was published by Basic Books in 2004.
She criticizes what she sees as a deterministic view towards gender and academic achievement, and says the data do not support notions of differences between male and female brains. Barnett also fears this is simply leading to further stereotyping and discouraging kids from developing their abilities in areas that do not match the stereotypes. “They’ll start to believe they can’t do the work that evidence says they can,” she said.
Even the youngest children should be getting more activity and less screen time. For the first time, kids from zero to four years old have been included in physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) released the Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years on March 27.
They were produced in conjunction with ParticipACTION, and had support from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (CHEO-HALO).
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) wants a four-fold increase in the portion of GDP Canada spends on early childhood programs, according to the think-tank’s recent alternative budget, A Budget for the Rest of Us.
The CCPA released the document earlier this month in anticipation of cutbacks in this week’s federal budget. It contains proposals for Aboriginal people, cities and communities, housing, seniors, women’s equality, public services and employment. Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is also in the mix.
Children that live in the lower income, core neighbourhoods in Saskatoon are more than twice as likely to be inactive than those from higher income neighbourhoods.
That’s just one of many findings from a survey of students’ health conducted in the Saskatoon Health Region.
“Poverty is a key factor that influences health,” health region program manager of research and evaluation Dr. Jennifer Cushon told a packed house during a Café Scientifique “Minding the Health Gap in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.” The discussion took place March 13th, 2012 at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.
Cushon presented some health study findings, which looked at health differences between different groups, including income, ethnicity, education and age.
The report found parallels between living in lower income neighbourhoods and poorer health outcomes. Researchers surveyed all students in grades 5 to 8 in the city, and found that 17.5 per cent of those in low income homes considered suicide, compared with 4.2 for those in higher income areas.
As far as activity levels, 19.4 per cent of students in the lower income core neighbourhoods were found to be inactive, compared with 8.9 per cent for higher income neighbourhoods.
The population of Saskatoon increased 11.4% between 2006 and 2011, compared with a 3.5% increase in the previous five-year period, according to the 2011 Census. This increase is in large part due to the numbers of newcomers—immigrants and refugees—coming to Saskatoon.
Despite these increases, little is known about the health and nutritional issues and needs of these newcomers, particularly children, says Dr. Hassan Vatanparast, a professor in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan.