The Benefits of Programming to support Children’s Development

Inclusive programming is crucial for the progressive development of skills in children. It provides the means and structure to incorporate children’s interests and to motivate each child in exploring, engaging and learning new skills. Programming reduces challenging behaviours within a group environment because children are actively engaged, motivated, and focussed on play.

While children are engaged in play, adults are able to observe abilities, needs, interests and learning styles to identify the goals and objectives. Programming should include a balance of both child-led and adult facilitated learning.

Adult Facilitated Learning

The adult sets the stage; the child follows the adult’s lead and engages as a co-learner. The emphasis is on the responsiveness the adult provides towards the children’s needs and the flexibility that is offered within the activity.

The adult:

  • is at the child’s level.
  • makes eye contact with all of the children.
  • is interested in the activity.
  • speaks with passion and enthusiasm.
  • makes a comment that matches what the child is saying or doing.
  • acknowledges communication attempts and is responsive.
  • is creative while facilitating the activity.
  • promotes curiosity.
  • uses various forms of guidance.
  • is flexible to adapt or move on to plan B if necessary.
  • encourages participation from all children.
  • is a positive role model.
  • is accommodating and spontaneous.
  • shows excitement through facial expressions.
  • is having fun!

Child-Led Learning

The child sets the stage; the adult joins in and becomes the co-learner. The child chooses what to play and how to play within the environment. When the child leads the play it motivates learning as it incorporates their personal interests and preferences.

The adult:

  • observes what the child is interested in.
  • waits for the child to choose a toy or activity of interest.
  • refrains from talking and gives the child a chance to get involved in the play or activity.
  • approaches the child (face to face, at the child’s level, or beside the child).
  • listens to what the child is communicating (words, sounds or gestures).
  • makes a comment that responds to what the child is saying or doing.
  • imitates what the child is doing, plays the way the child is playing without shifting the focus.
  • shows interest in the child’s excitement and curiosity.
  • is having fun!

Jocelyne Desbiens, RECE & Brooks Hachey, RECE
Behaviour Consultants, CISS