Category Archives: Early Learning and Care

Seeing the Individual Child and Building Connections Using Conscious Discipline®

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The most important part of operating any child care program is to create an environment that provides comfort and a sense of community. School Age programs are often run in shared spaces, and so the flexibility in the environment is not as feasible as it would be in a permanent space. This encourages staff to think about the materials and structures that they can bring in, and the learning opportunities that they can provide to help meet the needs of each child. Using structures from Conscious Discipline® has guided our program in creating an environment that everyone feels a part of, and the individual child is acknowledged and supported.

We believe it is essential to make a point of greeting each child by name. Most of the children will opt to give us a high five or fist pump with the greeting, and some children choose to have a no touch greeting. Whatever the child chooses, the emphasis is on personal acknowledgment and a recognition that we are happy they are here. When there are a larger number of children in our care, too often we can lose track of names or specific personal details of the children.

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Engaging Children with a Nature Based Environment

“Access to active play in nature and outdoors—with its risks—is essential for healthy child development. We recommend increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings—at home, at school, in child care, the community and nature.” (www.childnature.ca)

In the summer of 2015, Pinecrest Queensway Headstart Nursery School started our first phase of transforming our playground. We met with a playground company in the early spring and began visiting other programs within the community to assist in brainstorming ideas. The children were excited to participate in all the processes and transformations of the yard. Children need variety in their play spaces; they need to be able to move from active, to imaginative, to passive play zones. The best playground designs encompass the complete site. Continue reading

Natural Loose Parts

loose part 3.jpgLoose parts provide the foundation for a play-based emergent curriculum that focuses on inquiry driven learning. According to Simon Nicholson, the definition for loose parts states: “In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.”

Nicholson, goes on to state that static, sterile environments such as schools and concrete playgrounds are often devoid of opportunities for curiosity, inventions, creativity and construction. These spaces are frequently rigid and unresponsive to the children who are expected to interact and flourish within their parameters.   Continue reading

Does adult screen time impact our children?

It seems there is a new article or research every week about the adverse effects of screen time on children. Too much screen time has been linked to child obesity, attachment issues, lack of sleep, delay in language acquisition and sensory overload to name just a few.

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While children are watching TV, using a computer, gaming device, tablet or smartphone, they are missing out on opportunities. Opportunities to make connections with the world around them including forging real relationships with peers and adults in their life; opportunities to problem solve, to be creative, to feel, touch, smell and make sense of their environment.  Continue reading

Sensory Play

As an educator I found myself frequently volunteering to wash the dishes at the end of the day, it was the perfect stress reducer for me and gave me the opportunity to reflect on my day. Sensory play is not only important for children but for adults too!

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Three personal sensory bins with moon sand to allow children easy access and choice. These bins have lids to allow them to stack for easy storage in an accessible area to promote independence. – Fairview Child Care.

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Circle Time: To Engage or Run?

As an RECE with a full day Headstart Nursery School, I found myself struggling with my concept of a successful circle and what was unfolding around me this past Fall. To put it mildly, my group’s circle time was chaotic. My goal was to assemble the eight children, sit, sing and read for 15 to 20 minutes. Honestly, assembling and sitting as a group was enough of a challenge. How was I to get them engaged or read an age appropriate book when I could barely contain them? What was I doing wrong? Continue reading

Involvement and Learning: Children Reclaiming the Environment

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
̶  Benjamin Franklin

As educators, parents, teachers, principals, we all believe we have the answers for children. These may be solutions to behaviours, the environment, what they should wear or how they should play. This construct was not working in our program and as a team; we needed to pay close attention to see what the children were telling us. With a multitude of observations we realized we needed to provide an environment where every child could thrive regardless of age, cognitive ability, or social skills. Based on our observations, we made changes to our transitions and routines, the environment and the global use of inclusive tools which transformed our center into a preschool program where children reclaimed their environment. Continue reading