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Building Brains and Futures

was founded after the Alberta government collected early developmental data on the kindergarten children in Alberta and identified children in Lethbridge as scoring below Alberta norms and Alberta’s children as scoring below Canadian norms. A committee with representatives from two school divisions, the University of Lethbridge neuroscience department, and other early-learning groups was established in order to equip families and improve kindergarten readiness for children. After studying current research, committee members adopted a curriculum of activities that aimed to improve children’s executive function skills. The simple activities were easily incorporated into classroom routines, and the curriculum was implemented at four early-learning sites within the city. Children were tested before and after participating in the program.  It became clear that children who were exposed to the curriculum experienced an increase in executive function and self-regulation scores, relative to developmental norms.

 

With the effectiveness of the school curriculum established, a second phase of the Building Brains program has evolved:

Building Brains Together (BBT), which seeks to expand its programs and reach families in the community. The activities in the curriculum have been adapted into family-friendly versions that parents can use with their children at home. These activities are quick, easy, and some of them, like Simon Says or Red Light/Green Light, are games that many parents already play with their children. When children participate in a simple game like Simon Says, they strengthen their working memory, learn to follow instructions, and practice behavioral and emotional control. These skills, in turn, have significant and far-reaching benefits—all from fun and simple games!