Category Archives: Early Learning and Care

The Modern Classroom: Are They Really Learning at School?

boy-child-childhood-207653.jpgJust like everything else in our world, classrooms have evolved quickly in recent years. Where the chalkboard once stood, there is a smart board or projector. Where there once were textbooks, there are chrome books and iPads. Where there once were rows of individual desks facing the front, there are now clumps of desks, standing desks, clipboards and beanbag chairs. The physical components that have changed are just one aspect of the new classroom environment. The modern classroom is different than it was even 10 years ago. Read on to discover an explanation to some of the ways your child’s classroom may have changed since you were in school.
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Nap Time Bins

Nap time bin.jpgAt La Coccinelle au coeur d’Ottawa, we noticed that as the number of non-sleeping children increased in our preschool group, we didn’t have enough quiet activities to go around. Additionally, the children were losing interest in the activities available in the playroom. We then came up with the idea of creating an activity storage bin system specifically for nap time.

These activities are chosen based on the following criteria: they are quiet, easy to understand and don’t include many pieces. Here are some examples: stacking, association, serialization games, special books, writing boards and puzzles. Activities can be as simple as a clipboard with white paper and pencils to bring out the children’s creativity. Possibilities are endless! The activities can help the children develop their cognitive and fine motor skills as well as their ability to play in an autonomous manner. Continue reading

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