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The Story of Flight: Alberta's Curriculum Framework

Flight's journey began in April 2012, following a visit to MacEwan University by Dr. Pam Whitty, Professor of Education at the University of New Brunswick. Dr. Whitty was invited to MacEwan to deliver a public lecture Children as Citizens in Their Own Right: Learning With/From Our Youngest Citizens. As one of the project directors for the development of the internationally recognized New Brunswick Curriculum Framework for Early Learning and Child Care, Dr. Whitty was also invited to speak to government and community leaders about early learning curriculum. Inspired by these presentations, the Government of Alberta invited faculty from MacEwan and Mount Royal to collaborate on developing and piloting a made-in Alberta curriculum framework for early childhood educators working in centre-based child care and family day homes in the province.

In developing the curriculum framework, the professional field provided inspiration. Close working relationships with early childhood educators in the community helped bring theory and practice together and to remind the developers of the complex and multifaceted nature of the work that early childhood educators do every day with children and their families. In the first year of the project, the educators, administrators, children, and families at three centre-based child care programs and one family day home, documented and collected samples of curriculum making in action, unfolding through the everyday experiences of children, families, and educators.

In 2014, Play, Participation, and Possibilities: An Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework for Alberta was released. Since that time, the exciting multi-year action research project engaging front line early childhood educators in centre-based child care and family day homes with faculty in post-secondary early learning and child care programs in Alberta continued as early childhood educators set the framework in motion with children and families in communities across the province.

Four years later, in 2018, the curriculum framework was renamed Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework. The new name, Flight, arose out of consultation with educators who had been using the framework. Feedback indicated that the long descriptive name had become cumbersome and many had shortened the name to “PPP” or variations of “the curriculum”, “the framework”, or “CF” for short. However, the words, “play”, “participation”, and “possibilities” are significant and remain prominent in Flight as reminders of the important role they hold in young children’s curriculum. In addition to the new name came a new look and feel, and a refined structure and format. At the request of the partners in the field, the content of the framework remains largely unchanged.

The journey continues. Hopefully early childhood communities will continue to engage with these ideas in ways that are meaningful and authentically representative of their own hopes and dreams for children, families, and communities.

Published Research Reflections on Flight

Hewes, J., Lirette, P., Makovichuk, L., and McCarron, R. (2019) Animating a curriculum framework through educator co-inquiry: Co-learning, co- researching and co- imagining possibilities. Journal of Childhood Studies 44(1), 37-53.

Whitty, P., Rose, S., Hewes, J., Lirette, P., and Makovichuk, L. (2018). Re-encountering toddlers, tattoos, and chickadees: Disrupting embodied relations. Journal of Childhood Studies 43(2), 1-16.

Hewes, J., Whitty, P., Atkinson, B. Schaly, E., Sibbald, J., & Ursuliak, K. (2016). Unfreezing Disney’s Frozen through playful and intentional co-authoring/co-playing. Canadian Journal of Education 39(3), 1-25.

See the framework in action