One-third of children in Saskatoon are not mentally or physically prepared to start going to school, according to a report by the local health region.
According to the region's chief medical health officer, the report also found that 57 per cent of youngsters in the city's poorer neighbourhoods were lacking skills to cope with starting kindergarten.
The assessment was based on an internationally recognized standard that is used to monitor the development of children.
"This report highlights a number of findings, but socio-economic status is often a major factor behind children's health and development," Dr. Cory Neudorf, the Chief Medical Health officer, and a co-author of the report, said. "Children are more vulnerable if they come from areas of the city and region where their parents have lower income and education, less employment and fewer social supports."
While many skills for learning were lacking, Neudorf says that, for the most part, children under six in the region are "healthy and resilient".
However, the report notes that the level of preparedness for school needs to improve in the region.
"Some children have already fallen behind their peers when they enter kindergarten, and this is not acceptable," Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of community health at the University of Saskatchewan as well as the other author of the report, said.
The report suggests targeted investments to reduce poverty and more spending on family and parental supports.