“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
Loose 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
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.
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
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!
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.
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
“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
The “Hugging Tree” is a permanent fixture in our preschool classroom. It is the centre of our community time where we express our emotions and share how we are feeling. Social-emotional skills are an important element of preschool and children need to know that they are in a safe place where they can express their emotions and that there are caring adults who can help them understand and deal with their feelings.
We were finding that certain friends in our program needed plenty of hugs on a daily basis and that they were attempting to get hugs from all of their friends. Some friends didn’t always want a hug and would run away. This would create a “chase” throughout the classroom with the possibility of somebody falling and getting hurt. Continue reading
As a RECE and a resource consultant who has worked in the ECE field for more than 30 years, I initially was uninspired by the Ministry of Education’s publication How Does Learning Happen? (HDLH). Weren’t the 4 Foundations (Belonging, Engagement, Well-Being and Expression) just common sense? It was only when I took a second look at the document and the questions it posed that I realized how valuable it could be as the impetus for ongoing reflective practice and discussion among teaching team members in ECE communities. Continue reading
The role of the educator is to set the stage to support all children in their learning. There are different approaches and ways to teach skills and facilitate outdoor play in order to create a positive and meaningful experience. There are many benefits in planning outdoor play such as:
- Allowing time to explore while practicing gross motor skills.
- Providing a way to release high energy levels.
- Creating opportunities to build independence, confidence and a sense of belonging.
- Supporting the development of creativity and imagination.
- Allowing opportunities for cooperative play, the development of play and social skills.
Does your child have difficulty with change of clothing between seasons e.g. moving from shoes to boots, long sleeves to short, coat to just a tee shirt? This can be a common characteristic in children with Autism and those with sensory processing difficulties. It can be the result of tactile sensitivity; the child is particular about the clothes he wears, finds tags and seams itchy or irritating, may not like having his sleeves pushed up, and likes only loose or tight clothing, socks and shoes or bare feet. Some children have difficulty tolerating touch to their skin and find that they can only tolerate certain clothing. It may also be the result of an intolerance to change in routine, transitions, or type of clothing. Some children are rigid and ritualistic because their world is confusing and overwhelming. The rituals and routines are their attempts to control their world in order to cope with it. Continue reading