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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Welcome to our BELA Family....

As September draws to a close, we are settling in to our new school year, excited to welcome back our families whose children have previously attended BELA, and meet many new families and get to know their children!  

As we prepared, with our staff, for the opening of our fourth school year, we paused to examine recent data and research and reflect on the mission of the Brooks Community Enrichment Foundation.  “ The Brooks Early Learning Academy, founded by the Brooks Community Enrichment Foundation, is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of early learning, and to providing high quality, play-based, early learning programming accessible to all children in our community.”  

Current research regarding the importance of the early learning years, and the birth rates for Brooks & the County of Newell, indicated that our community was definitely in need of additional spaces for children to have high quality early learning opportunities.  Our Foundation was determined to provide these important learning opportunities for all children in our community, regardless of their learning needs or the socio-economic status of their families.  Since our initial year, Alberta  Education & Alberta Human Services partnered in a project, the EarlyChildhood Development (ECD) Mapping Initiative, to collect data across Alberta utilizing the Early Development Instrument (EDI) to gather information about children in Kindergarten.   The EDI developed by McMaster University, is utilized across Canada, Alberta, and Brooks & the County of Newell.

In Canada, the national norm for Canadian children indicates 25.40% of children are experiencing great difficulty in one or more of the 5 early learning developmental domains.

 The 5 year Alberta EDMap results (2009-2014) indicate that 28.9% of children are experiencing Great Difficulty in at least one of the 5 Developmental Domains.

In Brooks & Newell County (2010) the following data was collected: 32.7% of kindergarten children are experiencing difficulty in one or more developmental areas,  including 39.7% experiencing difficulty or great difficulty in Communication skills & General Knowledge; and 29.9% experiencing difficulty or great difficulty in Language & Thinking Skills
As we reviewed the mission of our Foundation and current data, and reflected on our programming, we established our goals for the up-coming year:
·      to provide programming for over 85 students at BELA
·      to increase the number of children enrolled, who are Early English Language Learners; and
·      to continue to provide programming that supports individual
learning needs, and recognizes developmental levels of all children
The BELA Learning Team is excited that we are beginning a new school year and are looking forward to sharing and supporting the learning growth and development of all of our children at BELA this year!   Our year will be filled with active, hands on learning activities, fresh air and daily exercise, science and numeracy activities, field-trips, and an environment which is rich in early literacy activities and support for the children’s character development.  Parents are the children’s first, and most important teachers, and we will celebrate with our families as the children evolve as early learners, who are excited to learn and have fun with their friends, and their teachers at BELA – Where We’re Learning & Loving It!

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