Saskatchewan Learning’s Prekindergarten Program was initiated to offer vulnerable 3- and 4-year-old children an early start in school and life success. The design of the program was based on research that demonstrated both the short- and long-term benefits of prevention and early intervention programs for children. Evidence of short-term benefits included improved intellectual performance, increased social skills, improved health, and higher self-esteem. Long-term benefits included lower rates of juvenile crime, fewer teen pregnancies, and fewer failed grades and school drop-outs.
In 1997, Saskatchewan Learning along with eight urban school divisions introduced the Prekindergarten Program in twenty-six Community Schools in North Battleford, Prince Albert, Regina, and Saskatoon. By 2003, more than 100 programs were established in approximately forty-five communities throughout the province.
Prekindergarten is an early childhood education program that lays the foundation for school success and focuses on social development, self-esteem, educational growth, and language development. Programming is developmentally appropriate and based on learning through play. Qualified teachers and teacher associates work closely with families and community partners such as regional health authorities to address the needs of the children. Children attend Prekindergarten four to five half-days each week. Time is also dedicated for family activities such as reading programs, family recreation nights, visits to community sites, and supportive opportunities for parents. Families are invited to be active partners in this education program by supporting their child’s learning at home, offering feedback to strengthen the Prekindergarten program, and becoming involved in multiple classroom and school initiatives.