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Holistic Learning in Alberta (AB)

The Ministry of Education in Alberta is taking any potential learning gaps or opportunities very seriously because of the learning interruptions caused by the pandemic. To this effect, it has created voluntary one-on-one assessments that are four to six minutes long for grades 1 to 3.

Such assessments early on help to identify any potential stumbling blocks that could be a hindrance to literacy and numeracy development. For holistic early learning programs, it’s important that any insights related to the developmental domains are collected early. It allows educators to plan ahead and decide on the most important learning areas that need to be addressed.

Grades 2 and 3 were assessed first. As there are many grade 1 students who are entering the school system for the first time, the decision was made to work on some developmental domains first before assessing them. 

 

Holistic Early Learning

Alberta’s early learning curriculum framework, called Flight, articulates a set of holistic play-based goals for children’s learning. 

The goals are designed to nurture early learners’ confidence in communication and literacy, by providing opportunities to express and develop ideas with others using multiple representational languages. 

The framework also supports the children’s disposition to learn, by appreciating and nurturing the unique identity of each child as an early learner. 

The family is involved as a partner in building and strengthening the early childhood education community.

Educators design a responsive learning environment, where early learners can use multimodal literacies for exploration and expression.

Educational resources such as blocks, art materials, picture books and story play are all used to construct and represent knowledge.

 

Mandatory kindergarten?

No

 

Early Childhood Education Announcement

Alberta Education directed an additional $40 million to improve and expand learning assistance to early learners with disabilities and language delays. 

This extension of support includes the following:  

Guidance to school authorities to appropriately identify children for funding purposes. 

Increasing hours for parent and child engagement sessions.

Supporting children with moderate language delays. Previously, it was only for severe language delays.

Holistic Learning in New Brunswick (NB)

The New Brunswick Department of Education is focused on systematically advancing the current K-12 education system so it effectively transitions early learners with diverse needs from one grade to another. 

It’s a strong advocate of the Community Connected Experiential Learning approach. This allows students to participate in learning experiences, reflect on what is learned, and apply their learning, while being connected to the community. 

The holistic approach is a very good fit for such a system, as it not only surveys the student and the teacher, but other community members as well who have a role to play in the child’s education.

 

Holistic Early Learning

The New Brunswick Curriculum Framework for Early Learning values and promotes an intellectually, socially and culturally engaging environment where children’s communicative practices and literacy skills can be developed. 

All early learners’ sense of belonging is nurtured and protected, where the uniqueness of every student is celebrated in their educational experience. They are meant to engage critically in the literacy practices of popular culture and also co-construct a range of literate identities.

 

Mandatory kindergarten?

Yes

Holistic Learning in Manitoba (MB)

Current studies say that young children need a balance of “child-initiated play in the presence of engaged teachers” and more “focused experiential learning” led by teachers. 

Manitoba Education recommends 45 minutes to one hour of child-initiated play per half day during the kindergarten year.

Holistic education, or holistic learning, emphasizes play-based learning. Playing is discovering. How a student interacts with people and the environment is a big part of understanding how they learn. These factors are accounted for in a holistic approach to education. 

 

Holistic Early Learning

Early Returns, Manitoba’s early learning curriculum framework, considers play to be a testing ground for language and reasoning skills. It expands intelligence and promotes advancement in literacy, math and science concepts. 

The learning environment is set up to be inclusive of everyone’s abilities and needs. Ample opportunities are provided to explore literacy, numeracy, music and art. 

The curriculum is set up to foster learning throughout the day. Language development during free play, in routines, and other daily activities.

 

Mandatory kindergarten?

No

 

Early Childhood Education Announcement

The Governments of Canada and Manitoba have extended the Canada-Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Agreement. 

Almost $98 million will be invested over four years to continue building and strengthening early learning and child care in the province. 

$15 million of this fund will go towards affordability, infrastructure, and diversity and inclusion.

On diversity and inclusion, there will be more Francophone and Indigenous programming and greater supports for those children with additional needs.

The Manitoba school system will see a funding increase of $120 million in the upcoming school year. 

Among many uses such as operating costs and infrastructure, part of the funds will be invested in a new pilot program that will support engagement with elders and knowledge keepers in schools to promote the inclusion of First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories, culture and customs in the provincial curricula.

Holistic Learning in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)

The Department of Education in Newfoundland and Labrador subscribes to an inclusive education philosophy. It promotes “a continuum of supports and services in the most appropriate setting (large group, small group, individualized) respecting the dignity of the child.”

The classroom is seen as a diverse setting where a variety of students can bring their own learning styles, abilities, experiences and backgrounds. In this learning environment, the differences among students are not merely respected but embraced. 

Inclusivity and holistic ideals in an education system are closely associated with each other. 

By adopting an inclusive mindset, the need for appropriately personalizing an education experience for a student rises. The holistic learning approach allows a school to dig deep to retrieve such information that would allow it to be truly inclusive.

 

Holistic Early Learning

Newfoundland and Labrador has a Return to School Plan. It directs educators to meet the returning students at their skill levels and build strong relationships that support further learning. Assessment practices will have flexibility and allow multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of key concepts. 

Teachers are expected to maximize the effectiveness of assessment strategies and practices by understanding the purpose of assessment and knowing how the collected data will build efficacy and achievement. They have to ensure that all formative assessments are rich, varied, and used for instructive purposes and not for summative assessment. 

The assessments have to encompass a large variety of data sources, and they should provide opportunities to students to demonstrate progress in a full range of learning.

 

Mandatory kindergarten?

No

 

Early Childhood Education Announcement

A Provincial Reading and Mathematics Assessment (PRMA) for grade three, six, and nine students will begin in May 2022. 

The Premier’s Task Force on Improving Educational Outcomes, Now is the Time, identified a need for a new provincial assessment of curriculum outcomes in reading and mathematics curricula to better align with national and international assessments.

Holistic Learning in Northwest Territories (NT)

The Department of Education Culture and Employment in Northwest Territories (NWT) is in the process of renewing its JK-12 school curriculum. After consulting with other provinces and Indigenous Governments and Educations, the following 5 themes were identified: 

  1. The Importance of Indigenous Ways 
  2. High-School Transitions 
  3. Rigour in the Curriculum 
  4. Accountability for Learning 
  5. Key Learning for Life

Reflecting on the 5 themes, the emphasis on the continuous aspect of lifelong learning is clear. It begins early on, as early as junior kindergarten in NWT’s case. There is a greater momentum to include culturally responsive educational material, and abide by an evidence-based curriculum that considers all the important early learning milestones. 

A holistic approach has an unique advantage, in that while it is inclusive by design, and supplements the existing curriculum.

 

Holistic Early Learning

The Canada-wide Early Learning agreement reached between Canada and Northwest Territories calls for NT to commit to develop and fund a plan to educate diverse learners. This includes children needing enhanced or individual supports, Indigenous children, children of newcomers, official language minorities, etc. 

NT also will monitor student progress as a part of its data sharing and reporting objective.

 

Mandatory kindergarten?

No

 

Early Childhood Education Announcement

Supporting Child Inclusion and Participation (SCIP) funding is a proposal-based funding program that will help NWT children be on track with their early childhood development through access and participation in early learning programs. 

In particular, the program supports families and children with specific development needs and enhances early learning programs.

Holistic Learning in Nova Scotia (NS)

The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in Nova Scotia is committed to continuing the progress made in inclusive education and curricular development. 

To this effect, it implemented the Multi-Tiered System of Supports, which is an integrated school-wide approach that is universal, focused and intensive. 

Much like the holistic education model, it too is student centered, and “provides assessment, instruction, and intervention at three different levels, or tiers: classroom, small group, and individual.” This is an excellent fit with the holistic view of education, which facilitates the differentiation of instruction by holistic formative assessments

 

Holistic Early Learning

Nova Scotia has a provincial literacy strategy that aims to ensure that early learners have the literacy skills to thrive in school and in outside environments. 

The province has dedicated $3.2 million for this cause. More direct support will be provided to students, and more help will be provided to educators in order to fortify literacy learning in all subjects.

There will be a focus on reading fluency, comprehension and writing skills. All teachers will reinforce student learning through classroom data and assessment to drive decisions on literacy instruction.

 

Mandatory kindergarten?

No