The Early Childhood Development Mapping Project Alberta (ECMap) analyzed data from the Early Development Instrument (EDI) on more than 70,200 kindergarten-aged children living in Alberta, Canada. The analysis included six domains:
- physical health and well-being
- social competence
- emotional maturity
- language and thinking skills
- communication skills
- general knowledge
The project identified Alberta’s children as developmentally below the Canadian average. Further, it illustrated specific regions and communities where children were struggling. Within Lethbridge, children in the inner-city core scored below the rest of the city.
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In light of these results, several members of the Lethbridge Early Years Coalition began to create a program that would serve the needs of children and families in our community. Based on scientific literature, a curriculum of activities was developed to improve child outcomes. These activities were integrated into pre-school classrooms located in the city core and tested for validity. Questionnaires were used to gauge parent and educator responses to the program. In addition to the curriculum, parent connection sites (Connection Cafés) were established at each school to provide parents with a comfortable place to meet, learn, and share information regarding children.