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.
Alberta Education, within the Inclusive Education framework, has identified that every child deserves a great start. Lethbridge School District No. 51 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 District No. 51 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 students for an Early Education Program if they are three years of age by September 30th in the year of entry. Children are required to be fully toilet trained with some exceptions made for children with identified delays or medical needs. We offer 25 programs in eleven locations: Agnes Davidson School, Senator Buchanan School, Nicholas Sheran Community School, Mike Mountain Horse School, Fleetwood Bawden School, Galbraith School, Dr. Gerald B. Probe School, Park Meadows School and Westminster School. Effective September, 2017, the District added programs at Immanuel Christian Elementary School and Coalbanks School.