Pedagogy of Inclusion in Early Childhood Education in Nova Scotia: A Comparative Early Learning Framework Content Analysis

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Verge, Denise
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This research examines how inclusion is defined and documented in the Nova Scotia early childhood education learning curriculum framework compared to other government provincial and territorial early childhood documentation across Canada. This research is important as there is no specific inclusion policy adopted in the early years’ context in Canada and therefore, it opens up for inclusion to be interpreted in multiple ways by early childhood professionals in the field. Importantly, this lack of policy potentially produces gaps in how inclusive programming gets delivered for young children and their families in the context of Nova Scotia early childhood settings. Explicitly, this study aims to identify potential gaps in relation to how inclusion is framed in the context of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia's Capable, Confident, and Curious: Nova Scotia's Early Learning Curriculum Framework (2018) as a means to inform future inclusive programming and delivery. Nova Scotia was selected as the researcher resides in Nova Scotia and works in the early childhood field. The Nova Scotia early learning framework is used as a baseline in this research to conduct a comparative content analysis on how inclusive programming gets situated in the Nova Scotia early sector compared to other early childhood documentation across Canada. By conducting a comparative analysis of Nova Scotia’s early learning framework to other early childhood frameworks across Canada we can begin to inform new understandings on how inclusion is understood in the province of Nova Scotia and the potential gaps that might exist within the existing early years framework. Importantly, this thesis aims to bring forward recommendations for possible changes to Nova Scotia's early learning framework in terms of how inclusion is defined and documented to improve equitable access of young children and their families. Although Nova Scotia has a good amount of content relating to inclusion terminology, this may not be an accurate indicator of the inclusion pedagogy’s quality within the early learning framework, therefore, it is imperative to explore the document further in relation to inclusivity. The results of this comparative content analysis show the relevance of developing a concrete early childhood education inclusive policy in Nova Scotia to support young children and their families in accessing equitable inclusive programs and services. The inconsistencies among the inclusion terminology founded in the key findings from this analysis also emphasize the requirement for directors and early childhood educators in the province of Nova Scotia to increase their knowledge and training about inclusion, including their access to various resources and supports. Future recommendations to enhance inclusive pedagogy and services in the province include; professional development training in the area of equity, accessibility, gender inclusivity, and cultural responsiveness. Adding increased detail on concepts like; parental inclusion, current statistics on the marginalization with early years, and consistency in programming in relation to inclusivity to the Nova Scotia framework may shed light on a deeper understanding of inclusion for ECEs to follow within Nova Scotia early learning centers. To continue to move in a progressive direction, we need to critically reflect on our daily inclusive pedagogical practices and consider how Nova Scotia can continue to increasingly shift in meeting the needs of young children and their families within early childhood education. Such information is essential in examining how to increase accessibility, support, and inclusive services for all children with disabilities in their communities.