The provincial government released its first Early Development Instrument (EDI) results today, Nov. 27, from data collected by Grade Primary teachers in 2012-13.
The teachers completed a questionnaire for each child in their class about five developmental areas:
— physical health and well-being
— emotional maturity
— communications skills and general knowledge
— social competence
— language and cognitive development
The data indicates children are entering school with a strong base of language and cognitive development, but are less developed in physical health and well-being.
Nova Scotia’s EDI results show 26.8 per cent of children were vulnerable in at least one developmental area, 14.3 per cent were vulnerable in at least two and four per cent had three or more challenges.
“The EDI results are not designed to identify strengths and weaknesses in individual children, but they will provide communities with a snapshot of how their children are doing as they enter school,” said Dr. John LeBlanc, pediatrician at the IWK Health Centre, and associate professor of pediatrics at Dalhousie medical school.
“Communities will be able to think about how they can better use their own resources, as well as those from government and other agencies, to help reduce the number of vulnerable children.”
Dr. LeBlanc is also a director of the Atlantic Network for Early Child Development.
“This information will help government, school boards and communities know what we can do to make sure every child receives the support to help them succeed,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey.
“Children’s earliest experiences often lay the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health. We owe it to our youngest students to ensure they have the resources and help they need.”
The Minister’s Panel Report on Education identified the need for more support for children entering school. There are early years centres, which support early development, in four communities and will expand to all school boards by next year.
The percentage of students starting school with a vulnerability in at least one area in each school board is:
— 23.1 per cent, Halifax Regional School Board
— 28.2 per cent, Chignecto Central Regional School Board
— 33.6 per cent, Strait Regional School Board
— 27.6 per cent, Annapolis Valley Regional School Board
— 25.6 per cent, Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board
— 40.8 per cent, Tri-County Regional School Board
— 33.6 per cent, South Shore Regional School Board
— 25.5 per cent, Conseil scolaire acadien provincial
The results are being shared with other government departments to better support children, and will help local partners such as school boards, district health authorities, child care centres, family resource centres, and early intervention programs to support their communities.
For more information, visit www.ednet.ns.ca/earlyyears .