Charles Pascal has completed his two-year long investigation into early learning in Ontario. His report calls for a blending of child care and kindergarten. Read about Pascal, his approach to the work, and dowload a copy of the report, Our Best Future: Early Learning in Ontario, at the Ministry of Children and Youth website.
There is no substantial discussion on immigrant, refugee or newcomer children, but “diversity” appears several times throughout the report:
In Chapter 1, “Our best future is one in which all children are … respectful of the diversity of their peers” (p. 7).
In the section discussing schools as the hub of the community, Pascal admits that “Concerns have been voiced that some schools are often unwelcoming to parents, dismissive of the expertise of community partners, and insensitive to the opportunities that diversity can provide for all students” (p. 17).
In the section on programming, there is a review of the ELECT principles, which include “Respect for diversity, inclusion and equity are prerequisites for optimal development and learning” (p. 26).
Also in the section on programming, and about ELECT, there is mention that any curricula should “reflect Ontario’s diversity” (p. 29).
The parental engagement discussion in the report calls on educators to “be thoughtful about who is involved in the process. Many parents commented that existing policies on parent engagement in schools and early childhood programs did not give enough consideration to the splendid diversity in Ontario. Are we truly involving parents if some educators and school leaders, as I have been advised, avoid the Muslim mother because she wears a hijab, or are confused about how to approach same-sex parents or the many configurations of blended families?” (p. 31).
In the recommendations section: “We must learn from each other. There are excellent examples of critical elements of the new system, across this province – teachers and ECEs working together, school-home based child care, school leaders who know how to engage parents and embrace diversity” (p. 49).
And, finally, a critical success factor in implementing the new system are: “ECEs with excellent child development knowledge, skills and experience already in place, passion for diversity…”(p. 49).