ARCQE February 2020 Blog Post
Alberta Curriculum Framework: A future for our future leaders…
by Lindsay Campbell
I believe more awareness needs to exist in the area of implementation of Curriculum Framework as part of the Early Learning & Child Care initiative unfolding across Alberta. This is a crucial Government initiative that needs to remain in effect for our province and to expand beyond the 122 current sites it is being implemented with and rolled out to all licensed child care programs. I feel the Flight framework course needs to be part of post-secondary offerings for all students entering this profession. As my centre comes to the end of its second year in this initiative; I take the time to reflect on the impact it has had on my facility, the staff, the community and myself as an early learning educator and administrator.
My facility is situated in Grande Prairie which is located approximately 4 ½ hours North West of Edmonton. We are a young community with a median age of 31.9 years. Many households have multiple children. Our regional economy continues to be dominated by the oil and gas industry. We have far more children than the number of child care spaces available in our region. Waitlists are lengthy throughout our city with a population base of 69,088. With the recent downturn of our main source of employment; the support is needed more than ever.
When the Framework project was initially announced, there was a bit of hesitation on my part. It was new and scary. There was uncertainty. By the time a second phase of this initiative was announced; there I no longer felt hesitation to submit an application. I knew our community and families needed more options and access to quality, affordable child care spaces.
When the press release came out announcing newly awarded sites and that our centre was a successful candidate for the grant; some of our families were in tears. This grant wasn’t even yet in place, but already I could see the impact this would have for families in our community. One of my favourite lines within the Flight curriculum (Makovichuk et al. 2014) states “Entering early childhood communities is often the first time families look to the broader community for support and partnership for the care of their children” (p.24). This line continues to hold a special place in my heart. So often we forget how hard it is for families to leave their children in the beginning with people they hardly know. This sentiment reminds me just how important strong relationships are which are highlighted so prominently within the Flight framework. I had the chance to see mothers re-enter the workforce as the grant now enabled the cost of care to be worthwhile for them to work outside the home. I saw parents return to school to upgrade their education because they could now afford quality care for their children while furthering their own education. Those with multiple children; were truly able to utilize and benefit from the financial aspects of the grant in the best ways possible. Grande Prairie embraced the Early Learning & Child Care initiative and our waitlist doubled validating its crucial importance.
The curriculum framework alerted me to something I hadn’t realized was dormant. It sparked a meaningful wake-up call reminding me why I became involved in the Early Learning profession in the first place. I do what I do daily to give the children in my centre the best day possible. The framework just opened my eyes to even further possibilities. It can be said that when learning something new, people often have ‘ah ha’ moments. As a professional, I really fell in love with the concept of environment as the third teacher summed up perfectly where the framework (2014) notes, “The environment in which children live, play, and relate can open up or limit opportunities for their care, play, and learning” (p.64). Watching my program transform was a career changing process. Pairing the environment with observations and documentation is a magical combination.
I am grateful for the strong group of staff that I have working for me. I was appreciative of their willingness to trust and embrace everything I was throwing at them as I excitedly learned more and more about the new early learning curriculum. I think a key area the media has not covered relative to this project; has been the opportunity for enriched professional development and increased wage floor for staff. The training our program has received from our Pedagogical Partner has been phenomenal. Our community of practice and learning has helped the staff with practical, hands on training and increased context. The module training with ASaP and GRIT has also helped increase the staffs’ tool box of resources. The staff have been able to embrace their practice of relationships in their role as co-learners, co-researchers and co-imaginers of possibilities.
I have been with my program since 2007 and in the Executive Director role since 2009. I can honestly say that the last two years have been monumental relative to our learning. Through the Framework, we have been able to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with our families. We are more connected and involved with our community. The growth and passion in the staff is at an all time high and I feel like I’m exactly where I am supposed to be. I will continue to be an advocate for the profession I so love, and advocate for what I believe the children of our province so greatly need. I believe the Curriculum Framework should be present in all licensed programs throughout Alberta. The benefits to everyone involved are beyond compare.
Makovichuk, L., Hewes, J., Lirette, P., & Thomas, N. (2014). Flight: Alberta’s early learning and care framework. Retrieved from www.flightframework.ca . (p. 1-153).