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Atkinson Centre

Resources > Topics > Curriculum & Pedagogy

Resources on Curriculum & Pedagogy


Finding a balance between what children enjoying doing (playing) and meeting the desire for student success remains foremost in the minds of educators and those that teach them. The shift toward early learning programs that provide opportunities for learning and play in environments that are just as rich in literacy and numeracy as they are in socio dramatic and block play need curriculum frameworks that support a well balanced environment for children.

Effective pedagogical practice needs to be grounded in child development and an awareness of the absolute critical role that parents play in a child’s learning. It is also grounded in knowing that the social emotional support that teachers provide to young children, can play a very important role in how children progress.

Review of Early Learning Frameworks in Canada
Summer 2014

Description: The 2005 federal/provincial child care agreements committed the provinces to creating detailed Action Plans based on the four “QUAD” principles of quality, universal inclusion, accessible and developmental early learning and care services. Among the first products provinces developed in response to the agreements were comprehensive early learning frameworks (ELFs); statements of common principles, approaches and tools to guide practice in early childhood settings.

To date, seven provinces have developed ELFs with Alberta and Newfoundland set to release theirs in the fall of 2014. Each document was locally constructed using a variety of approaches. Their uses vary. In Quebec, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, the ELF is the designated guide for early childhood settings. BC’s framework is required for its school-based Strong Start Centres. PEI and NB mandate certified training in their respective frameworks. While Ontario’s ELF is not mandated, the City of Toronto has tied its approaches to its quality assessment criteria.

Despite their different paths to development, the frameworks host many similarities. Families and communities are viewed as partners who strengthen the program’s ability to meet the needs of young children. Respect for diversity, equity and inclusion are embraced as essential for optimal development. A planned curriculum, anchored by play, is recognized as best able to capitalize on children’s natural curiosity and exuberance to learn. Most jurisdictions continue to add to their frameworks with resources to enrich programming.

The documents are largely written for those who work directly with young children and their families. They inform staff expectations of the children and help to document their own and the children’s progress. They guide educators in the scheduling of routines and activities, the organization of indoor and outdoor space and the adaptation of space and activities to include children with special needs.

In addition to informing professional practice, early years frameworks can be a resource for directors, school principals, senior administrators and other decision makers on how to allocate resources and set policies in tune with the developmental needs of young children. This becomes particularly important, as schools expand their mandates to include early education and care.

This overview is organized around 20 sections highlighting the process, audience, theoretical approaches, developmental areas, resources and supports for each framework. It is not intended for comparison but to showcase the rich body of work that has emerged from Canada’s early childhood sector.

The Atkinson Centre extends its appreciation to the Department of Education, Culture and Employment of the Northwest Territories for sharing this resource and to Atkinson Centre Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Emis Akbari, Executive Director Dr. Palmina Ioannone, and the interns from the George Brown College ECE degree program, Iris Liu, Jenny Rajewski and Stephanie Sorgiovanni for their assistance in compiling the information.

ON: Early Learning Central – New Website
Source: ETFO Central, April 19, 2013

Description: "ETFO is dedicated to the development, promotion and protection of quality education for every student. Professional development plays a key role in achieving this vision.  ETFO is the foremost provider of professional learning activities in Ontario. A wide range of professional learning activities are provided that are developed by teachers for teachers."

"Raising Healthy Children: Translating Child Development Research into Practice"
Source: Child Development, January/February, 2011

Description: "The importance of grounding policy and practice in the scientific study of children’s development is consistent with the relatively new and rapidly evolving domain of translational research.... This critical shift emphasizing the end usability of research on basic processes for health improvement became influential in other areas such as social psychology and developmental psychopathology. Within developmental studies, there has been increased focus on the connection between normative development, atypical development, and intervention, including the importance of understanding atypical development through a normative lens that can guide interventions."

Best Practices DVD for Early Childhood Launched
Source: JIS Voice of Jamaica, January 19, 2011

Excerpt: "The Early Childhood Commission (ECC) in collaboration with the Canadian-based George Brown College on Monday (January 17) launched the ‘Best Practices DVD’ which is aimed at improving the learning, behaviour, developmental and coping skills for the 0-6 year old age group in Jamaica. Executive Director of the ECC, Winsome Johns-Gayle, said that the DVD brings to life the content of the Best Practices Document for the sector, which was launched in 2009. She said that it will be used as a resource tool by all early childhood practitioners to enforce their training."

Curriculum and Play in Early Child Development
Source: Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development (CEECD), 2010

Excerpt: "The need to integrate play into early childhood curriculum has been supported by decades of child development research and is reflected in the most recent documents of such professional organizations as National Association for the Education of Young Children and National Research Council. However, the specific aspects of the relationship between play and curriculum remain open to interpretation which affects the beliefs of Early Childhood practitioners as well as their classroom practices."

Full-Day Early Learning in Ontario
Source: Government of Ontario, 2010

Description: In 2010, Ontario began phasing in a new full-day learning program for its 4- and 5-year-olds. The Early Learning Kindergarten Program and supporting documents can be found on the Ministry of Education's website.

Every Child, Every Opportunity: Curriculum to Pedagogy for the Early Learning Program
Source: Government of Ontario, 2009

Description: A compendium report to "With Our Best Future in Mind: Implementing Early Learning in Ontario". Every Child, Every Opportunity describes the curriculum and pedagogy required for the Early Learning Program. It sets out an organized system of intentions and plans to encourage that reciprocity of learning among children, educators and parents and capitalizes on children’s natural curiosity and exuberance for learning. It emphasizes how children and adults learn from each other.

Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario Early Childhood Settings (pdf, 4MB)
Source: Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning, 2007

Description: "Early Learning for Every Child Today" provides a framework for Ontario early childhood settings.

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