Early childhood is a particularly crucial time of life in which children experience the greatest change and development of their brains. These years are critical in laying the groundwork for adult health, wellbeing, and success. Early childhood education services include pre-schools and early childhood education centres, full-day childcare for infants and young children. School-age care includes before- and after-school care for school-age children, as well as emergency, vacation and respite care for children of various ages. A range of providers delivers early childhood education and school-age care. Most full-day service is provided by small not-for-profit centres or by individuals in their homes. Larger agencies, such as the YM/YWCAs, also provide full-day care, while recreation and community centres often facilitate before- and after-school care.
The availability and accessibility early childhood education and school-age care services for all children is but one measure of child and youth friendliness. Other key issues include well-trained staff, culturally supportive services, appropriate learning environments and resources, a variety of indoor and outdoor programs, parental/guardian involvement, and commitment to local communities. Furthermore, early childhood education and childcare can also be seen as an economic issue. The availability and affordability of early childhood education and childcare enables parents (particularly women) to participate in the workforce, earn a living, and avoid extended absences from the labour market.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION & SCHOOL-AGE CARE
UNCRC and Early Childhood Education & School-Age Care
Article 12 is about the views of the child
Children and young people have a right to participate in all matters affecting them, and those views should be given due weight “in accordance with the age and maturity of the child”.
Article 23 is about special care and education
Children and youth who have a disability of any kind have the right to special care and education they need to develop and lead a full life.
Article 28 is about the right to an education
Children have the right to education. This means children have the right to learn how to read and the right to access to the resources that will help them succeed in learning.
Article 29 is about education for personal and social development
Children have the right to the best education that allows for them to develop their own personality and abilities as much as possible. Children should be encouraged to respect other people’s rights and values and to respect the environment.
Article 30 is about inclusivity in race, culture, religion and language
Children have the right to enjoy their own culture, practice their own religion and speak their own language.
“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning how to learn.”
~ Loris Malaguzzi, developer of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood learning