Study reflects positively on kindergarten children

A provincial study on early child development shows Rimbey’s kindergarten-age children above the provincial and national norm

A provincial study on early child development shows Rimbey’s kindergarten-age children above the provincial and national norm except in the area of language and thinking skills.

Leanne Evans, program co-ordinator for Rimbey Early Child Development Coalition, met with Rimbey town council Nov. 27 to share the findings of the study that is part of Alberta Education’s Early Child Development Mapping Initiative.

“Rimbey is doing well but we should be trying to help these kids that are experiencing difficulty,” she said.

“We are proud of our results, but we know that we can do better,” added Lynne Ings, chairman of the coalition.  “With strong community support, we can build on our strengths and move forward.”

Kindergarten children’s development, analyzed through questionnaires, in the areas of social competence, physical health and well being, emotional maturity and community skills and general knowledge was also included in the study.

In the Rimbey area, which includes Bluffton and Crestomere, 114 questionnaires were analyzed.

The Early Child Development Mapping Initiative is a five-year research and community development project that aims to improve the development of young children throughout Alberta.

The early years (from birth to age five) are a critical period of development impacting lifelong health, learning, behavior and well being, said Evans.

“Research shows that communities play a key role, along with parents, in creating the early environments that shape child development. The return that you get on investing in early years is so huge. Every dollar invested in pre-school programs gives you an 800 per cent return,” Evans said.

The Rimbey and area coalition aims to get parents, community members and service providers to study the results and raise public awareness about the importance of the early years and develop an action plan to promote positive development.

Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson supported the coalition for its work.

“They have the most important work of any group I have worked with,” he said. “They have an opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of children under the age of five which will affect their lives in the future.”

The public is invited to attend a Family Fair on Jan. 10 to learn more about the study. The event will include a free barbecue, a performance by children’s entertainer Mary Lambert and activities from 4 to 7 p.m.

“It’s a fun event,” said Evans. “We’re targeting families with young children and will discuss ways to improve in these areas of development (language and thinking skills).

For more information contact Leanne Evans at 403-843-4304 or email rimbeynp@telus.net

The Early Child Development (ECD) Mapping Initiative, led by Alberta Education, is a five-year research and community development activity that includes implementation of the Early Development instrument (EDI) in kindergarten classes across the province. The initiative will help Albertans to better understand how their young children are doing and to work together to support their healthy development. This initiative is funded by the Government of Alberta and involves the ministries of Education, Health and Wellness and Human Services.

Information on the ECD Mapping Initiative is available at www.ecdmapping,alberta.ca