Stettler-area five-year-old children have received marks below the provincial average in a study that evaluates pre-schoolers in categories that measure how they develop their health, social and emotional skills.
Under the Early Childhood Mapping Project, the Stettler region scored below the provincial average in the five categories and the local coalition of partners is determined to improve those scores.
“We are seeking community awareness and support on this project over the next year and a half,” said Erin Stauffer, co-ordinator of the Stettler and County Early Childhood Development Coalition.
“The report for Stettler shows that a majority of kindergarten-aged children in this area are doing well. However, a large percentage are experiencing difficulties in the three areas of developmental communication skills and general knowledge, social competence and language arts and thinking skills.”
In areas where children are developing “appropriately,” Stettler scored highest in emotional maturity with 69.6 per cent and physical health and well-being at the same mark.
Provincially, physical health and wellbeing scored 77 per cent and emotional maturity rated 74.98.
Results were accumulated from information collected from 103 kindergarten students from 2010 to 2012.
Among other Stettler results, language and thinking skills scored 65.69 (78.92 for province), followed by social competence at 64.71 (76.59), and communication skills and general knowledge at 64.73 (70.29).
The five-year ECMap project is funded by Alberta Education and is part of the Alberta government’s Early Child Development (ECD) Mapping Initiative.
Locally, the project is a partnership between Clearview School Division, Stettler Health Unit, Stettler CONNECTions, Stettler Public Library, Stettler and District Family and Community Support Services and the McMan Youth Family and Community Services Association.
“We are proud of our results, but we know that we can do better,” said Stauffer, a kindergarten teacher at Big Valley School.
“This is why we are asking for strong community support to build on our strengths and move forward. We know that parents and communities play a key role in creating the early environments that shape child development.”
In another report for the neighbours to the east, Castor and the County of Paintearth area scored high in physical and well-being at 80.71, followed by language and thinking skills at 75.86 per cent, social competence at 74.14 per cent and emotional maturity at 70.69 per cent.
In the coming months, the coalition plans to develop five newsletters to focus on each area of development.