Speaker calls for more investment in early education

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Music instructor Melinda Grass (far left) leads the

By Joel van der Veen

Children should be seen and not heard.

Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Youth is wasted on the young.

During his presentation at the Imagine Our Future early childhood education conference at Mosaic Place on Friday, keynote speaker Jim Grieve tested the audience, asking them to complete these three proverbs, which they did with no trouble.

While they’re still familiar adages, he said, they don’t reflect what’s now known about educating and raising children.

 “In fact, most of what we thought we knew about early human development has been turned upside down,” said Grieve, assistant deputy minister of the early learning division for the Ontario Ministry of Education. “Our understanding of brain research, neurobiology, and genetics is constantly changing and constantly being updated.”

Grieve was the final keynote speaker for the conference, held from Wednesday to Friday at the downtown Moose Jaw venue and organized by the Early Childhood Coalition in partnership with Prairie South School Division and Holy Trinity Catholic School Division.

Formerly the education director for Ontario’s Peel District School Board, the second largest in Canada, he gave both a summary of topics covered by earlier speakers and also talked about changes underway in Ontario.

The province introduced full-day kindergarten in 2010 and has pledged to have all of its four- and five-year-old students — 240,000 in total — enrolled in the program by 2014.

“We are expecting a major, major positive impact on the outcomes for those children,” said Grieve, who emphasized that his division strives to help children be ready not just for school, but for all that follows.

“My job is to make sure that every child that’s in our system and in our province and in our nation is being more and better prepared for life.”

For more information, see Saturday's edition of the Times-Herald.

Organizations: Ontario Ministry of Education, Early Childhood Coalition, Prairie South School Division Holy Trinity Catholic School Division Peel District School Board Times-Herald

Geographic location: Ontario, Moose Jaw, Canada

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