(Photo: Dave Stobbe)

Starting early: USask adds Early Childhood Education option

The early years for children are an important time—filled with rapid growth and development. Thanks to a new partnership between the University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Education and the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education, USask education teacher candidates will soon have the opportunity to enroll in an early childhood education (ECE) concentration.

Upon graduation, they will enter the field with specialized knowledge and understanding to work with young children and their families.

The College of Education will begin to offer ECE in the 2019/2010 academic year, featuring eight new courses that are being developed as part of this partnership. Students taking the Bachelor of Education program will now be able to choose from three options: early childhood, elementary/middle years or secondary. Teachers in the ECE option will have the skills to teach children beginning in Pre-kindergarten to Grade 3.

“Guided by our new University Plan, we must continually reinvigorate our programming to ensure we are responding to the critical needs here in Saskatchewan, across the country and around the world,” said Usask President Peter Stoicheff. “Through this collaboration with our government partners, our graduates will be able to make a meaningful impact at the very beginning of a child’s education journey.” 

Creating the ECE concentration for the Bachelor of Education program supports the provincial government’s Education Sector Strategic Plan, which is aimed at supporting children to enter school developmentally ready to learn in the primary grades. 

“We are very pleased Saskatchewan children and families will be receiving these specialized supports,” said Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, Gordon Wyant. “Equipping teachers with the knowledge and tools specific to the early years helps ensure children are able to reach important developmental milestones.”

Another outcome of the partnership will be the development of five new courses for the Additional Qualification Certification in ECE available for current teachers in the province. 

Through an evaluation of Saskatchewan children entering kindergarten, the Ministry found that, on a developmental continuum, 59 per cent of children display typical skills. This evaluation highlights the importance of providing rich literacy and numeracy environments to nurture physical, social-emotional and intellectual development in young children.

Offering the new Usask ECE concentration will build the province’s capacity to educate teachers who are able to apply this specialized knowledge in the classroom, contributing to the quality of life for children and their families in Saskatchewan.

“In the College of Education, we understand the strength that partnership brings to the development of important programming like this,” said Dean of the College of Education Michelle Prytula. “I am impressed by the talent and wisdom of all contributors to this exciting project, and I look forward to the positive outcomes that this program will have within the province and beyond.”

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