‘How does learning Happen?’ is a question that has challenged and inspired teachers and caregivers for decades. This ongoing inquiry still leads us each day to meet the needs and challenges of the children in our care. As indicated in the Minister’s Policy Statement released June 8, 2015 we will use the ‘How does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years (2014)’ document to guide our program. This statement, together with the Child Care and Early Years Act guide our program development, pedagogy and practice. It is intended to strengthen the quality of our program and ensure high quality experiences that lead to positive outcomes in relation to children’s learning, development, health and well-being. With that in mind the staff at The Oaks Early Learning Childcare will work each day to….
- Promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being of the children in our care by providing an environment that encourages the children to make positive choices for themselves and others. We believe children are competent, capable, curious and rich in potential. The staff will work with the children and parents to allow play with reasonable risk that challenges the children to explore, makes them aware of possible risk factors and how to minimize those risks while building confidence and self- awareness. We want them to understand that they are loved, cared for and created for a purpose. We will use Public Health’s direction and Canada’s Food guide in our menu planning and nutritional policies. We will use positive, affirming words when speaking to the children that will foster a positive self- image and sense of identity to the children.
- Support positive and responsive interactions among the children, parents and staff. We believe that by promoting and modelling these positive interactions we can assist parents in guiding their children in positive ways, establish mutual respect with the children and have better outcomes for children and families. We will do this by giving them our attention, speaking in a calm positive manner, acknowledging individual feelings and assisting in problem solving that allows all parties to feel safe and foster a positive self-image. These interactions are monitored and recorded at least once yearly to ensure that staff continue to maintain the standard of care and positive interactions set out in our policy.
The staff are guided by their own faith and belief that what we do matters in the eyes of our Saviour. The staff will also engage in their own reflections that will help them to connect ‘How does learning Happen?’ to this and all areas of the program statement. It will assist staff in identifying their areas of strength and set new goals to work towards that encourage them to grow.
- Encourage the children to interact in a positive way and support their self-regulation by demonstrating respect for each other and the children in the way that we speak and interact with one another. We will use available tools and knowledge to be aware of each child’s level of stress and use that knowledge to support each individual child in building greater self-regulation skills. We will give the children time to process expectations and allow them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. We want the children to understand that God loves them just the way they are, even when they make mistakes. We will provide a physical environment within the room that provides a child space to calm themselves and get back to play as soon as possible. We teach and encourage breathing and calming techniques as needed.
- Foster the children’s exploration, play and inquiry by providing many meaningful experiences in the classroom each day and allow the children to take the lead in play. We will provide a variety of materials to enhance and encourage each child’s creativity and experimentation. The staff will use the natural curiosity and inquiry of the children to provide both child initiated and teacher supported experiences that will encourage the children to question and find answers to their wonder. God has provided unending imagination and creativity. We want to give the children an opportunity to explore and express it.
- Plan for and create positive learning environments and experiences in which each child’s learning and development will be supported by ensuring all children are able to participate in activities at their own level. The relationships that we build with each child will enable us to provide materials specifically designed to enhance an individual sense of belonging including special interests and cultural items. Each child is created by God and there is a purpose and a plan for them. We are partnering with the Lord to say yes to all the good things the Lord has for them. Additional staff and community supports will be utilized to ensure each child as the opportunity to expand their learning in their own way. This will include but not be limited to Resource Consultants, Speech and Language pathologists, Physical therapists, Kinesiologists, and Occupational Therapists.
- Incorporate indoor and outdoor play, active, rest and quiet times into the day and give consideration to the individual needs of the children receiving care. We will ensure that each child has the opportunity for rest, quiet time and outdoor play. These opportunities may be provided in smaller groups as needed. We are able to provide sleep time in a separate room for our preschoolers ensuring a quiet place for the children to rest. Whenever ratios allow children will able to join the sleep room or leave it as their needs indicate. If a child is in the sleep room and unable to sleep but due to ratios not able to return to the main playroom, the child will be provided with quiet activities to engage in. The children that do not go to sleep room have the opportunity to engage in quiet activities a classroom or large group room; that allows the children to have a restful time but still engage as they so choose. God has created such an amazing world and he has given us the ability to interact and engage with it in such creative ways. Outdoor play will include a variety of experiences and equipment and will follow the same learning approach as indoors, following the children’s interests and inquiry. Our outdoors experiences allow exploration of the natural environment, physical games and activities, large muscle development and opportunities for appropriate risk taking. When outdoor place in not available due to weather restrictions an alternative space may be provided that will still allow for large muscle active play.
- Foster the engagement of and ongoing communication with parents about the program and their children. This includes but is not limited to providing a monthly newsletter allowing us to keep parents up to date on overall happenings within the childcare. Documentation binders are created for each child. They will contain written documentation regarding activities and experiences the children engaged in and examples of their creative work. Other documentation will be provided and displayed around the room, in the hallways and in display cases. This documentation will include pictures, art and written reflections. God has put relationships at the centre of all that we do. This includes our relationship with Him and with those around us. We believe that this understanding will guide us in developing strong partnerships with the families we serve.
- Involve local community partners and allow those partners to support the children, their families and the staff. We believe that the inclusion of our community partners enhances the program, the children’s learning experiences and the overall well-being of the family. We will do this by making referrals when concerns arise regarding the development of a child in any area or when we know through communication with the family that supports are needed in the home. God has provided wonderful resources for us to tap into. Our childcare is open to participating in visits, assessments and working with ongoing therapies that will assist the children and their families. We post community events and workshops that may be of interest to parents.
- We will support the staff and others who interact with the children in our centre in the area of professional development. God says that wisdom is important to build a foundation, understanding is needed to establish your place in it and knowledge is required to fill it up with wonderful things. With this in mind we support lifelong learning. We will provide funding, time off and in-house training to ensure all staff continue their own learning journey and stay up-to date with the latest research and childcare practices. We use a portfolio tool and/or the Continuous Learning Portfolio through the CECE with staff. This allows staff to review and plan for a variety of learning experiences each and every year. These professional development experiences are reported to parents in our newsletters to keep parents informed of the learning the staff is involved in. This also allows parents to ask questions and initiate their own learning journey. Resources are available to parents in the lounge ongoing.
- We will document and review the impact of the strategies set out above with the children and their families by providing regular documentation of interactions within the classroom, taking pictures to support this documentation. We will review and reflect upon interactions and experiences to ensure they meet the desired outcomes of engagement, well-being, belonging and expression. God has given us this childcare centre as a ministry to the families we serve. We will do all that we can to support them within the childcare centre and at home. We will provide families with a Quality Assessment Survey each year to encourage parents to speak up. Our goal is to give everyone a voice by collaborating with children, staff and parents and the Region of Waterloo throughout this ongoing process.
A copy of ‘How Does Learning Happen?’ is available from our ‘How Does Learning Happen?’ bulletin board.