What is Aboriginal ECDC
Healthy Children, Healthy Nations. A 15 by 15 Research Brief by the Aboriginal Steering Committee at HELP.
Early Childhood Development and Care (ECDC) is a term that describes the formal
teaching programs designed by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people to
support children in their healthy development between the ages of birth to six.
Often, when we think of the early years, we think of caring for our children, but we miss the crucial importance of learning at this age. Quality early childhood development and care is more than babysitting. It offers the critical combination of care and learning that our youngest children require to develop a strong sense of self, and build the cognitive and social skills needed for lifelong learning and success.
In the early years, the brain is extremely receptive. Every experience develops
a connection in the brain that shapes who we become. This graph from the Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC shows the sensitive periods in early brain development from the ages of birth to seven.
Early childhood education is about maximizing learning in these early years through structured activities. It is about learning through play. It follows a philosophy of allowing each child to follow their curiosity to develop their personal gifts and learn how to interact with their peers and their community.
High-quality programs are staffed with well-trained educators who know the importance of creating rich learning environments that are rooted in culture and tradition. The training of the educators, the health and safety of the space provided, and the integration of Aboriginal culture and traditions into the every day operation of the center define high quality programs.
- stress free environments
- cultural connections
- positive interactions
- stimulating environments
- socialization, exposure to elders and traditional language
- food/nutritional supplements
- healthy/non contaminated environment
- parent engagement/ teaching
These environments ensure that children create strong relationships, form positive relationships and experiences and form the basis of healthy brain development that sets the foundation for life.
Many programs exist across B.C. but much more needs to be done. As of 2003 there were 100 AECDC programs across B.C. with an estimated need for over 200. Many First Nation, Aboriginal and Metis and children in B.C do not have access to this transformational approach. A 2006 study showed that an estimated 90 percent of Aboriginal children in Canada do not have access to culturally relevant early childhood development programs. We need to call for more stable funding for AECDC programs and increased access to the most vulnerable children in remote communities.