May 15, 2003
Conversations, at town halls and in speaking with people from all over the Canadian landscape, keep subtly turning to the importance of early childhood learning centers.
It’s because so many of the problems that we see as “adult issues” – from labour, to homelessness and health care – are being recognized as issues that should be dealt with from the root up. That is, education for zero to six-year-olds is a crucial building block in the knowledge economy and ensuring that Canada has a strong social foundation.
While in Windsor for a hometown rally, I had the opportunity to learn more about the early resource center in the city’s public library. At this center, play is not only acceptable but encouraged, because it stokes in children a readiness to learn. It’s not a traditional school setting, but a place where kids are whetting their ferocious appetite for new experiences with toys that improve motor skills and coordination. Books are provided for the older children. Meanwhile, parents learn how to teach their kids and have resources on-hand – and even have access to an onsite assistant in the library.
The centre is situated in the inner-city and the programs are free-of-charge. This gives an opportunity for low-income families in the burgeoning city to let their children get a head start in life.
The federal government must work with the provinces, as it did with the National Child Benefit, to build a national childcare education system. We have the basic building blocks already!