Early Childhood Services

Children 3 to 6 Years of Age

Learning starts the moment a child is born. The first six years of a child’s life are an extremely important time in their development. It is a critical time in human development when the brain is developing connections faster than at any other time in a person’s life. Strong brain foundations are critical to support future learning and life success. 

The Early Education Program Expression of Interest for the 2021/2022 school year closed on March 31, 2021. Placements will be communicated to families by April 16. If you are interested in our Early Education Program but missed out on the Expression of Interest, please contact Melinda Moore, Administrative Assistant, for Lethbridge School Division for more information. Moore can be reached at melinda.moore@lethsd.ab.ca or 403-380-5385.

Alberta Education, within the Inclusive Education framework, has identified that every child deserves a great start. Lethbridge School Division values and supports the best possible start in a child’s learning journey and life success by providing Early Childhood Services programming that is based on current research in the field of early learning and development. 

Early Childhood Services (ECS) in our school district refers to programs that meet the developmental and identified needs of families of young children (ages 3 to 6 yrs.). In some circumstances, children identified with severe delays may start as early as 2 years 8 months. The education of children in the year prior to Grade 1 is referred to as Kindergarten. Kindergarten Programs are an important part of ECS and FREE Kindergarten Programs are available to ALL children. Fees are applicable for entry into our Early Education Programs since these are not government funded programs, other than children with assessed development delays that meet Alberta Education criteria.

Children who have identified delays access integrated supports that may include involvement of a Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Behavioural Consultant, Psychologist, Vision Consultant, Hearing Consultant etc., depending on their area(s) of need.  An Individual Program Plan (IPP) is developed by the team which includes the parents, classroom staff and support professionals.

Guiding Principles for Our Early Education Programs 

  • Experiences during early childhood years are crucial to a child’s learning and development.
  • A safe and caring environment is necessary for learning.
  • Children learn through play and exploration.
  • Staff and families work as partners to support a child’s development.
  • A team approach is used to address all areas of a child’s development.
  • Active involvement in meaningful learning experiences includes challenges and successes.
  • Meeting all children and families, where they are currently at, is critical.
  • Decision making and responsibilities are shared.
  • Children learn and reflect what they know in different ways.
  • Children’s needs are identified early and proactive steps are taken to address potential delays or challenges.
  • Our early education programs are ready to accommodate all children and adapt programs to ensure learning and success for all.

Early Education Programs for Preschool-aged Children

Lethbridge School Division offers Early Education Programs that are developed on a hands-on, play-based, developmentally appropriate approach that recognizes that children learn from one another as well as responsive adults. Our programs provide a strong foundation in speech and language skills, as well as other areas of development, that allow children to learn alongside their peers. Children gain independence through proactive support and planning.

Parents may register children for an Early Education Program if they are four years old by Dec. 31 of the school year they are entering.  Children that are three by December 31, experiencing a severe developmental delay that meets Alberta Education criteria, are also accepted. Children are required to be fully toilet trained with some exceptions made for children with identified delays or medical needs. For the current 2021/2022 school year we offer programs in 9 locations: Fleetwood-Bawden Elementary School, Lakeview Elementary School, Galbraith Elementary School, Park Meadows Elementary School, Immanuel Christian Elementary School, Westminster Elementary School, Dr. Gerald B. Probe Elementary School, Nicholas Sheran Elementary School and Mike Mountain Horse Elementary School.

Please see the Early Education Program Brochure

For information regarding a specific program please contact the school closest to your home address that offers Early Education Programming:

For 2021/2022, southside locations will include:

Fleetwood-Bawden Elementary School
Lakeview Elementary School

For 2021/2022, northside locations will include:

Galbraith Elementary School
Park Meadows Elementary School
Immanuel Christian Elementary School
Westminster Elementary School

For 2021/2022, westside locations will include:

Dr. Gerald B. Probe Elementary School
Nicholas Sheran Elementary School
Mike Mountain Horse Elementary School 

Registration begins June 7 for Building Brains Together – At Home

Please note, the Division’s in-school Early Education Programs do not have additional capacity to extend registrations for three-year-olds next year (2021-2022 school year), unless children have moderate to severe developmental delays, that meet Alberta Education criteria. Learn more about our programs supporting children with identified needs by visiting our website here: www.lethsd.ab.ca/programs/early-childhood

In addition to our Early Education Program, Lethbridge School Division is kicking off an exciting new project this fall, where parents and caregivers of three and four-year-old children can build young brains together in their own homes.
Building Brains Together – At Home strives to empower parents and caregivers by building on adult capabilities to develop the executive functions of their child’s brain, a process best accomplished in the first five years of their lives.
Executive functions include important skills such as self-regulation (dealing with emotions, controlling impulses, tolerating change, being able to return to a calm state, etc.), working memory, paying attention, organization skills, problem solving, flexibility, and much more.
Build Brains Together - At Home will include three weekly live, small group, online sessions for the child and caregiver, with an Early Learning educator. Virtual sessions, approximately 30 minutes in length, will take place in the afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Parents can learn more by joining the weekly parent café, on Monday afternoons, which will include educational support and guest speakers on child/brain development.
The Division recognizes that a virtual format is not optimal for young children, but it is a way for adults to work alongside their child, providing essential real-life interaction that is so critical for young childrens’ learning and brain development.
Parents who register for the program will also have access to a website, complete with an extensive list of resources and extension activities. Each participant will also receive a Building Brains bag, comprising of materials to support activities in the program.
To register in the program, parents must also agree to participate in a University of Lethbridge Department of Neuroscience study with Dr. Robbin Gibb and Dr. Claudia Gonzalez. This involves completing parent surveys at the beginning and end of the program.  Children in the program will participate in some play-based activities both at the beginning and end of the program to look at their growth in executive function skills.
Studies have shown students who improve their executive brain function at an early age, are set up for improved learning in the future.
Learn more about Building Brains Together at www.buildingbrains.ca
Lethbridge School Division has embedded the Building Brains Together activities in their Early Education Program classrooms for 5 years, and now Building Brains is being offered in a virtual format.
Limited spaces are available for the program. In addition to a $40 registration fee, a $100-per-month fee will be charged for the program, which will run from Sept. 8, 2021 to June 24, 2022.
Building Brains Together – At Home will follow the Division’s educational calendar, as sessions and parent café presentations will not be held on holidays or professional learning days.
Registration begins Monday, June 7 at 9 a.m. Limited spaces are available, so register early to avoid disappointment.
Click this link to register: REGISTRATION.
Contact Isabelle Plomp, the Division’s Early Childhood Services Co-ordinator, at Isabelle.plomp@lethsd.ab.ca for more information.

Parent Information and Community Resources

Child Development

Core Story on Brain Development 

Centre on the Developing Child – Harvard University 

Talk Box – A Resource for Speech and Language Development   

Hanen Tips for Parents - Language and Literacy  

Healthy Parents – Healthy Children 

Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) 

Galileo Network – Early Learning – Parent Info 

Community Resources

Children’s Allied Health Services – Lethbridge and Area 

Family Centre - Lethbridge 

Community Links – Southern Alberta 

Alberta Education – Early Childhood

My Child’s Learning – A Parent Resource – Kindergarten

Provincial Early Childhood Initiatives

Together We Raise Tomorrow – An Alberta Approach to Early Childhood Development

Let’s Talk About the Early Years – Early Childhood Development  Report by the Chief Medical Officer of Health Alberta

National Early Childhood Initiatives

Council of Ministers of Education Canada – Statement on Play-based Learning