French-language content for this topic on Alberta.ca is currently being developed. Information will remain available on the Alberta Education website until this is complete.
La page correspondante en français est en cours de préparation sur le site Web Alberta.ca. Pendant cette période de transition, l'information qu'elle contient demeure disponible sur le site Web du ministère de l'Éducation.
The first 6 years of a child's life are important to their development and future education. Children who are cared for and have positive experiences during the early years are more likely to develop and learn in ways that help them meet their full potential.
Lifelong learning begins the moment we are born. The first 6 years of our lives are a time of unparalleled discovery. We learn about ourselves and the world around us. Our personalities take shape and we begin to lay the foundation of knowledge that will support us as we enter the education system.
Services, supports and programs for young children and their families are primarily provided by 4 areas of the Government of Alberta: Alberta Education, Alberta Community and Social Services, Alberta Children’s Services and Alberta Health.
Alberta Education is responsible for Early Childhood Services (ECS). ECS are educational programs for children under the age of 6 and includes Kindergarten, the year before Grade One and educational programming for children as young as 2 years 8 months.
Alberta Community and Social Services provides Family Support for Children with Disabilities, while Alberta Children’s Services is responsible for Parent Link Centres, Child Care and Licensed Preschool. These supports are provided in partnership with communities through programs offered by Family and Community Support Services.
Alberta Health provides primary and preventative health care from the prenatal stage, through the early years and into adolescence and adulthood.
The 4 ministries work together to plan for and deliver the many early childhood programs, supports and services needed to support young children and their families.
Early childhood development information
- Childhood Development in Communities
- Let's Talk About the Early Years
- Children's Mental Health
- Children with Disabilities
- Alberta Family Wellness Initiative
Information for parents
- Healthy Parents Healthy Children
- My child's learning
- Parent Link Centres
- Parenting tips
- Triple P - Positive Parenting
- Creating language-rich environments
- Flight: Alberta's Early Learning and Care Framework (play, participation and possibilities)
- Starting a child care program
Early development data
The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a questionnaire used by Kindergarten teachers to record information about child development in the first 5 years of life.
The EDI is a questionnaire that provides information about children's overall development as a result of their experiences in the first 5 years of life.
Information is collected on individual children and the data from the questionnaires is analyzed and reported at a population level. The EDI is not a measure of how children are doing as a result of their kindergarten program. Parents and teachers do not receive results and reports for individual children.
The 103 item questionnaire asks kindergarten teachers to rate the development of children in their classrooms. The questionnaire covers 5 different areas of early childhood development:
- Physical Health and Well-being
- Social Competence
- Emotional maturity
- Language and Cognitive Development
- Communication Skills and General Knowledge
Alberta completed the province-wide collection of EDI data in February/March 2016.
Parents may choose whether or not their child is included in the EDI collection.
The Alberta EDI 2015/2016 Summary Report (PDF, 13.7 MB)
Early childhood services
Early childhood education
The School Act states that a board or an approved school authority may provide an ECS program to a child who is younger than 6 years of age as of September 1. Base Instruction Funding may be provided for the child to attend kindergarten for 475 hours in the year before Grade One, if they are at least 4 years, 6 months of age by September 1 of the school year.
Kindergarten not only helps prepare children for entry into Grade 1, but also provides a foundation for later success. Kindergarten provides learning experiences that meet the diverse needs of children and promote a positive attitude toward lifelong learning. A child whose developmental needs have been met is more likely to grow into a self-reliant, responsible, caring and contributing member of society.
Local school authorities may offer full-day kindergarten, or programs for children younger than Kindergarten age. Schools may charge a fee for ECS programs.
Program Unit Funding (PUF)
Program Unit Funding (PUF), in addition to Base Instruction Funding, is available to approved ECS operators and school authorities for young children who are 2 years 8 months and less than 6 years of age by September 1, and who have been identified with a severe disability/delay. Children are eligible for up to three years of ECS funded programming, depending on age, severity of the disability/delay and its impact on the child's ability to function within an ECS program. The Standards for the Provision of Early Childhood Special Education apply to children who meet the eligibility criteria for special education programming.
ECS fact sheets
- Programming for Children with Special Education Needs (PDF, 98 KB)
- Early Childhood Programming (PDF, 97 KB)
- English as a Second Language (PDF, 95 KB)
- Francisation Fact Sheet (2016) (PDF, 85 KB)
- Community-based Programming (PDF, 41 KB)
- Family-oriented Programming (PDF, 78 KB)
- Establishing a Private ECS (PDF, 72 KB)