It is important for all parents to know that between the ages of three to five there is a crucial window to build a child’s mental and physical development to provide them with a solid foundation for the future. Recent studies of Early Childhood Development (ECD) indicate that over 50 percent of children entering Kindergarten in Alberta are not developing appropriately in the key areas of development. (EcMap Project, 2014) This is a scary fact!
Early Education Programs in Calgary
As WinSport has been a pioneer in programming, the organization began to carefully look at how it can address this issue and build the physical and cognitive development of children through sport. Their idea to create an early education program was inspired from a legacy formed by relentless, bold, and fearless individuals. The organization’s goal is to continue that legacy by creating the next generation of leaders – children who will make an impact and continue to inspire their community.
WinSport worked with one group of early childhood experts called the First 2000 Days Networks to plan age appropriate programs for younger children. Obviously, this is very important as 85 percent of the brain's wiring happens between the ages of 0 and 5. (Alberta Family Wellness Initiative, 2011).
Hollie Cressy, Manager of Sport Development states that “early childhood programming such as WinSport embraces children's inquisitive nature and creates opportunities to support and enhance their rapid development. We believe children are strong, capable individuals and we value their ability to boldly discover the world around them and fearlessly return to nature and the outdoors.”
Go Outside and Play
Including an outdoor play component in an ECD program is a great compliment to traditional indoor learning spaces. Regardless if it is -30 or +30 degrees celsius children need to have some exposure to nature, in particular at an early age.
Having “an engaging indoor and outdoor learning environment will stimulate children’s curiosity and sense of wonderment by providing experiences with sporting equipment, nature-based play, obstacle courses, and other activities,” Cressy explains. ECD programs therefore should “intentionally design stimulating environments that will promote active play and sparks them to explore which ultimately motivates them to move. Another important element is the equipment we put in these spaces and environments. Having logs, stumps and branches that children will engage with helps leads to developing fundamental movement skills including balance, coordination, jumping, crawling and running.
Another unique aspect of the Early Explorers program is that children are encouraged to lead their own learning.
In general, “day-to-day curriculum outcomes are not pre-determined, but rather child-led, allowing them to explore the world around them and guide their own discoveries through dramatic play, art, indoor learning centres like a sand table and a weaving station. Children will spend a large portion of their time outdoors in a variety of weather conditions as this will help build their resilience and creativity within this environment.”
Parent Jennifer Nahu provided insight on the development of the program.
“I had the pleasure to see the time, consideration, learning and effort that has been put into this space and into creating a unique program for Calgary children,” Nahu explains. “WinSport has created an engaging program that will have children learning about the world around them with an emphasis on physical movement nestled in a space that only WinSport can offer. Children will be immersed in movement exploration and sport with a big outdoor component. I am personally excited for my own preschool child to experience this one.”
For parents interesting in ECD programs, our highlighted organization WinSport runs a six-week program features both once and twice per week options. In its pilot year, the program will run until the end of June. For more information, visit: https://www.winsport.ca/lessonsprograms/earlychildhood.cfm