Aboriginal Head Start

The Done Necha-lia Gha Enitl’e Ko (School for Little People) Ndilo Aboriginal Head Start Program is located at 702 Sikyea Tili, Ndilo, Northwest Territories.  Our program opened in April 1997 and has seen over 500 children attend our program.  The Yellowknives Dene First Nation, a member of the Akaitcho Treaty 8 Tribal Council, administers our Program.

The Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) program provides an opportunity for 3 and 4 year old children to participate in a half-day preschool program.  Dene, Metis and Inuit children from Ndilo and Yellowknife attend our program as we encourage them with a desire for learning.

Our Program uses our “Aboriginal Head Start: Making a Difference” in the Northwest Territories, Child-Centered Curriculum.”  We are very excited about our curriculum, as we have created it to meet the needs of each of our NWT AHS sites.  We have been working on it for the past few years and are happy it is completed.  Already we have noticed a change in how our children are learning.

Language & Culture

In our Aboriginal language and culture component we celebrate the Yellowknives Dene.  We teach the Willideh language throughout the day, the children learn simple phrases and commands, colors, numbers, days of the week, months of the year, prayers and songs.  The cultural component covers activities such as setting rabbit snares, cleaning fish, making dry meat, plucking ducks, beading and sewing and making crafts.  Children also learn to make bannock and help to cook traditional food such a fish, caribou, moose and ducks.  In the spring and fall we take our children on picnics and nature walks to learn about the world around them.

Education

Learning social skills is a very big part of our program; our program is set up in centers so the children learn through play.  The dramatic play center is for social emotional development they engage in dramatic play with others.  When children engage in dramatic play they deepen their understanding of the world and develop skills that will serve them throughout their lives.

Block play is for children to construct, create and represent their experiences with blocks

so for the first hour of the day our children explore centers where their social and language skills are strengthened by the interaction between children.  The children have a choice of a variety of activities including a the dramatic play center, a reading center, a puzzle center, the cars and train center, a block center, sand/water table, paint center and the craft center which could include play dough, an art activity or craft. Our ECE Teacher uses this time to implement intentional teaching with activities on what she has noticed the children are interested in. During circle time the children participate in learning the months, days of the week, special days, sing songs, learn colors, shapes, letters, numbers read stories and participate in a variety of physical activities such as dancing, yoga and exercises.  After circle time the children participate in table time where they learn how to use scissors, how to color and draw and paste.

Nutrition and Health Promotion

The children receive a healthy snack every day.  Our program staff ensures that traditional foods are available and the children are taught about eating healthy foods and living healthy lifestyles.  The children are taught about the importance of washing their hands, brushing their teeth and are taken outside almost every day.  The children are also taken to the swimming pool and the field house to experience a variety of ways to exercise and have fun.

Social Support

Staff members work with a variety of Yellowknife agencies to ensure our children are receiving all the services that they need to prepare them for school.  Agencies such as the Stanton Territorial Hospital Pediatrician, Speech and Language Therapist and Occupation Therapist, NWT Council for Persons with Disabilities, Stanton Territorial Child Development Team, and Yellowknife Health and Social Services and Yellowknife Public Health.

Program Evaluation

Over the years our program staff has actively been involved in program evaluation.  We believe that in evaluating ourselves we can make changes to be the best possible program for our children.  We hope you take the time to review our evaluation link to read about our evaluation results and challenges and to see a more detailed analysis of our evaluation results.