Transforming Early Childhood Education in Canada

Man with baby in forest

June 19, 2024 - 5:15pm

For too long, early childhood education in Canada has favoured indoor learning environments over the outdoors and lacked recognition of Indigenous Land-based approaches. Danielle Alphonse, VIU’s BC Regional Innovation Chair in Aboriginal Early Childhood Development, and Sheila Grieve, VIU Early Childhood Education and Care Professor, were part of a national working group aimed at changing this. Organized by the Lawson Foundation with support from an anonymous donor, the working group has created a framework to transform early childhood education programs across Canada. The new framework aims to get faculty, students and ultimately children outdoors and connected to nature and the Land.

“It is through strong responsible, reciprocal, respectful relationships with land that we can understand who we are and enter into the restoration work that humans need to do with land,” said Grieve. “In order to retain or gain our connection to land, we need to spend time on the land. Early childhood educators need to feel comfortable being outdoors, which can encompass a wide variety of skills, so having courses dedicated to this in post-secondary educational programs is vital. I believe all children have the right to quality outdoor experiences, and Early Childhood Educators need to be educated to provide that quality. As a Métis professor, being part of this working group was very meaningful.”

“Through the collective process, this document recognizes the importance of land-based learning and Indigenous knowledge is valued,” said Alphonse. “It also encourages opportunities for faculty to incorporate teaching on the land and by doing this creates relations with the land. What impressed me was the Lawson Foundation’s vision of all provinces and institutes specializing in early childhood education and care programs to examine and explore ways to bring land-based learning in class, curriculum and in their communities and for each institution to connect with the Nation of that territory to deeply understand the teachings of the land.”

Read more about the framework.

Tags: Early Childhood Education and Care | Teaching and Learning

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email