Everyone is Welcome at the Table

Pot lucks are a wonderful way to bring people together, to experience new foods, enjoy good conversation, and to make time to connect in otherwise busy lives. At CISS we celebrate important life milestones by organizing pot luck lunches before some of our monthly staff meetings. Prior to these events, information regarding individual dietary needs is identified to assist in the planning of food choices. As any host knows this is the most important step to ensure a successful outcome!

Gathering information prior to the enrolment of a child into an Early Learning and Care program is the beginning of a positive inclusion experience. Asking questions regarding the child’s development, abilities, emerging skills and needs become the basis of a plan for that child’s enrolment. This information helps to clarify what internal and external resources, training and/or further information will be required and the time needed to prepare for that child’s eventual enrolment. It is important to know ahead of time who will be seeking enrolment in your program so you have time to prepare.

Preparing for our pot lucks requires thought and creativity. Modifications to familiar recipes are attempted using unfamiliar (and sometimes unheard of!) ingredients. It takes some courage and patience to put ingredients together with which you have had no prior experience and perhaps no idea what the end product is supposed to look like! Sometimes it is necessary to seek outside support by having the event catered or by simply purchasing food items already prepared.

Preparing for the enrolment of a child whose needs are different requires a commitment to an intake process that may initially take more time. This may mean adapting your familiar process to be better informed of the needs of the children on your wait list. Calling parents/guardians prior to spaces becoming available allows for the time needed to gather information in preparation for that child’s enrolment. The connection that you begin with parents/guardians at Intake is the start of an important partnership, one that acknowledges the importance of what each has to offer. It is also important to remember to connect with the Intake Coordinator at CISS to provide information about this potential enrolment. This provides you with the opportunity to ask if a referral has
already been sent to CISS for this child and, if so, where this referral is at in terms of the eligibility process. This begins your partnership with CISS in planning for inclusion support regarding this child.

When everyone’s contribution to the pot luck is displayed, there is a pleasing array of colour, smells and textures tantalizingly waiting to be sampled! Comfort and ease are created by listing the ingredients of dishes so individuals can choose what they can eat. The atmosphere is relaxed, welcoming and creates a wonderful time to connect and enjoy one another.

The sharing of information gathered at intake to the teaching team assists in the preparation for the child’s entry into the group. When the teaching team knows what the child’s capabilities are, likes/dislikes and how best to establish communication and expectations, there can be a more relaxed atmosphere and enjoyment of one another, even though this experience may be unfamiliar to both the child and the teaching team.

A successful experience is the result of a well-developed intake process that begins with the gathering of information. Parents/guardians have a wealth of knowledge and insight regarding their child and have a vested interest in contributing to a successful outcome. Connecting early in your process with parents/guardians and with CISS provides the time needed to develop a support plan. Sharing the information with the teaching team prior to the child’s start date supports a positive beginning to the child’s and family’s inclusion experience in your program.

Written by Susan Spence
CISS Intake & Resource Coordinator