Background and JK Review
The Junior Kindergarten program for 4-year old children in the NWT emerged as a result of comprehensive stakeholder engagement through the Aboriginal Student Achievement strategy, the Education Renewal strategy, youth forums, and the development of Right from the Start: A Framework and Action Plan for Early Childhood Development in the Northwest Territories. This engagement with community leaders, parents, families, educators, and ECD professionals, along with international and national research, supported the approach of Junior Kindergarten as a direct bridge between early childhood development programs and entry into school.
The JK Review provided input from multiple stakeholders across the territory and included a recommendation for further engagement regarding the expansion of Junior Kindergarten. Parents and educators in JK settings are collectively positive about the effect that participation in JK has had on children, so ECE will learn from the strengths, benefits, and needs from those sites while taking into account community contexts during the territorial implementation of JK in all NWT communities for 2017-18.
Engagement has begun with stakeholders including meetings with teachers and principals to acquire specific feedback on ways to make the implementation of JK in their schools and communities more seamless. Thus far, the feedback from teachers has helped to strengthen teacher resources for play-based learning and assessment. Engagements will continue into the fall and the information received will continue to guide the details of working towards Junior Kindergarten implementation across the NWT for 2017-18.