Early Childhood Development

Aboriginal Head Start on-Reserve (AHSOR) funds early childhood intervention strategies that support the health and developmental needs of First Nations children from birth to age six, and their families. The goal is to support programming that is designed and delivered by First Nations communities in an effort to meet their unique needs.


• Support the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical growth of each child.

• Support and encourage children to enjoy life-long learning.

• Support parents, guardians and extended family members as the primary teachers.

• Encourage parents and the broader First Nations community to play a role in planning, developing, implementing and evaluating the AHSOR Program.

• Build relationships and coordinate with other community programs and services to enhance the effectiveness of the program.

• Encourage the best use of community resources for children, as well as for their parents, families and communities.


Culture and Language

This component promotes and supports children experiencing their First Nation culture and learning their language. This includes activities and events that allow children to develop a sense of belonging and identity as a First Nations person, and to learn and retain their First Nations languages. Programming also includes cultural resources to support children’s learning, as well as activities that support the linkage between the program and community cultural events.


This component promotes life-long learning by promoting activities and events that encourage children’s readiness to learn skills and focus on their physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and social development needs. For example, children can learn early literacy skills such as printing, recognizing sounds and words and gross and fine motor activities. The environment is organized around routines that encourage children’s active learning and positive social interactions, including opportunities for children to learn through play.

Health Promotion

This component encourages children and families to live healthy lives by following healthy lifestyle practices. Programming provides activities and events that promote physical activity, such as outdoor playground activities and traditional games. Staff are also provided with opportunities and activities that promote self-care, such as helping children to brush their teeth. Staff encourages the appropriate physical, visual, hearing and developmental assessments of children. Programming provides visits with health professionals such as nurses (for immunizations), dental hygienists, speech therapists, and physicians. Support is also offered to parents and families through access to other professionals such as drug and alcohol addictions counselors, mental health therapists, and /or environmental health officers.


This component teaches children and families about healthy foods that will help them meet their nutritional needs. Programming offers nutritious snacks and/or meals using Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide-First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and can provide children with opportunities to participate in traditional food gathering activities. In addition, the Nutrition component ensures that parents/guardians have opportunities to meet with health professionals such as nutritionists.

Social Support

This component assists parents and guardians to become aware of the resources available to them in achieving a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Programming includes activities and events that allow young children and their families to gain information about, and access to other community service sectors and service providers. Programming provides a variety of learning opportunities and training for parents and families.

Parental and Family Involvement

This component recognizes and supports the role of parents and family as the primary teachers and caregivers of their children. Programming provides opportunities for parents/guardians, families and community members to participate directly in the program, including attending parent/guardian committees, monthly family dinners, children’s field trips or other after hour activities. Outreach services/home-visits support parental and family involvement by bringing information into the home, including on how to register their children in the AHSOR Program.