From Research

Play or Learning?

The False Choice Between Play and Learning

Podcast – Among early learning advocates, the fate of play continues to be hotly debated. To learn more about the relationship between play and learning, the New America Foundation invited Annie Murphy Paul–journalist, author and mother of young children–to talk about what she has uncovered in the reporting of her forthcoming book, Brilliant: The New Science of Smart.   The podcast also explores recent research on play-oriented learning by Alison Gopnik, a psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and her colleagues, how play-based activities can help teachers meet early learning guidelines and standards, and different kinds of play, including the importance of unstructured play in the afternoons and weekends when young children are out of school. Listen to podcast.


New West 5 year olds

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) tells us how five year olds are developing as a group. The Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC, in partnership with School Districts look at the growth of Kindergarten students throughout the province. On January 9th, Joanne Schroeder, Provincial Community Development Manager from HELP will discuss the results for New Westminster five year olds.

Date: Monday January 9th, 2012

Time: 3:30 to 5:00pm

Location: New Westminster Public Library

Auditorium, 716 6th Ave

Please RSVP

The latest EDI maps, data and Community Summary are available here: ink:

Event Poster: EDI Event – Joanne Schroeder Jan 2012

Newcomer Children

 AMSSA is proud to announce the launch of the report “Promising Practices” of Early Childhood Education Principles for Immigrant and Refugee Children in British Columbia.

For the first time in British Columbia, staff who specialize in working with immigrant and refugee children share their insights into “promising practices” they have identified through front-line early childhood development service delivery. AMSSA is very pleased to make this unique and accessible research report available to early childhood educators across BC. Read more…ANCIE REPORT Launch Announcement

Read the full report here: ONLINE – Promising Practices_Final


With the Brain in Mind Website

(From First Call:)

With the Brain in Mind focuses on the importance of positive early brain development in giving children the best possible start in life. By providing opportunities to learn about the latest research and best practices in early childhood brain development, the website aims to increase the capacity of parents, professionals, and policy makers to facilitate positive changes in the lives of children and young adults.

With the Brain in Mind is based on the work of Dr. Fraser Mustard, a renowned expert in early childhood who passed away recently. The website includes a number of presentations and links to project websites. Visit

Social and Emotional Development in Early Years

(From Healthy Families:)

The Early Years are a fascinating and often mysterious time. Copious amounts of information exists while much is still unknown. The process of deciphering, staying current and combining this knowledge into our daily practice can be challenging.

Social and Emotional Development in the Early Years is the title of a series of presentations and supporting resources produced by The BC Healthy Child Development Alliance. The aim of these workshops and accompanying resources is to promote a basic understanding of the social and emotional development of children in their early years, including signs that may indicate the need for additional support, strategies to promote mental health, and local resources. Topics such as attachment, building parent-child relationships, early brain development and how stress affects children are explored, supported by research from recognized organizations such as the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and Zero to Three, among others.
Developed around a flexible model, the content can be delivered in 30, 60, 90 and 120 minute versions of the workshop, with accompanying handouts and references to allow the presenter to tailor their workshop to the audience. With versions of the presentation targeted to ECD and parent support providers, health care providers and child welfare workers, each with its own focus and material suited to that audience, there really is something for everyone.

(Karen’s note: link to powerpoint, webcast, and handouts here:
Both Ruby Banga and myself attended the training on delivering these workshops, and would be happy to discuss with other agencies and programs about how this presentation could be beneficial for staff, or for parents who use your programs.
The BC Council for Families has also developed a number of workshops, trainings and presentations on how home visitors and family support workers can help parents develop healthy attachment with their children. If you are interested in one of these training please contact us.

Children and Play: How does Culture fit in?

How are our approaches to play influenced by culture, and how are they impacted by the experience of immigration? That’s the intriguing question that Maya Goldstein, an MA graduate in Human Development, Learning and Culture at the Faculty of Education at UBC, has been investigating through a study conducted with South Asian families at a Family Resource Place in Surrey, BC. 

Do families belonging to a particular cultural group approach play in similar ways? And how do parents change or adapt their approaches to play in a Canadian context? Because few North American studies of play have focused on immigrant families, there are as yet few definitive answers to questions like these, and the implications for child development are significant. In her study, Goldstein observed interactions between parents and children from South Asian families while they attended a Family Resource Program in Surrey, BC, and continued with follow-up observations and interviews in their homes.

The families involved differed in their approaches to play — whether the play was parent or child-directed, whether the child and parent were close to each other physically and in the kinds of play materials chosen. Parents expressed differing ideas about the value of play, and about play’s role in preparing their child for the future.

Yet families in the study also had much in common, including a deep appreciation of the social contact with other families they experienced at the Family Resource Program. As recent immigrants, the parents found it very different to be raising children in Canada than it is in India, particularly the greater freedom for children in India to play outside on their own and the greater involvement of friends, neighbours and family members in raising children. That support was really missed.

Reflecting on the study, Maya notes that “Culture has a great influence on the lives of children and their play. There is no one right way to play with children. We should be open and accept different approaches to play.” This research reminds us to be aware of the influence of culture on play, to accept a variety of approaches to play, to learn from and about the immigrant families we know and work with, and to remember that there will be very significant differences within any one cultural group.

(From Healthy Families:)

Early Childhood Conditions help shape DNA: Research

(From EYCDI:)

Early childhood living conditions provoke biological changes in genes leading to DNA “memory” that can last a lifetime, an international study has found.Experts have already noted that income, education and neighbourhood resources can have a dramatic effect on children’s health, and that a poor socio-economic environment in infancy can translate into a higher risk of adult disease and early mortality.But a study published online Thursday in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggests that early experience works changes that are far more than skin deep.The environment of early childhood influences brain and biological development and leaves a “memory” in the genetic code that affects the way genes function, say researchers from McGill University, the University of British Columbia and the UCL Institute of Child Health in London, England.”Biological embedding” may help explain why health disadvantages linked to a lower socio-economic origin — including obesity, mental health problems, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses — can last a lifetime even if living conditions improve later. Read more here.

Three New Videos from HELP

Watch the three new short videos of Clyde Hertzman, Tom Boyce and Paul Kershaw discussing their work and its importance.

Dr. Hertzman presents HELP’s cell to society research model used to explore early childhood development. Dr. Boyce discusses how the stresses and adversities of growing up in socio-economically disadvantaged environments get inside us and affect the biology that determines lifelong metal and physical illness. Finally, Dr. Kershaw explains why it is in everyone’s interest to shape public policy to support young families with children.

BCPVA study re Full Day Kindergarten

From the Ministry of Education:

The British Columbia Principals and Vice Principals Association (BCPVPA) sponsored a research study on full day Kindergarten (FDK) and the report is now available on their website.  The report highlights key findings on the implementation of FDK last school year.  The study was designed to document, communicate and support the development of high quality Kindergarten programs in schools.