The Charlotte Birchard Centres of Early Learning has adopted the document ‘How Does Learning Happen?’ Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years as the professional learning resource that provides us guidance in program development and pedagogy in our early learning and care programs. Goals for children, expectations for programs and questions for reflection are organized around four interconnected foundations of belonging, well-being, engagement and expression. Our Program Statement is reviewed annually, and changes are made based on staff input. Staff, volunteers, and students review our statement after any modifications are made and sign the revised document.
We offer programs that are child-centred, inquiry and play-based learning supported by responsive relationships.
Our Educators plan, create, implement, document, assess and adapt the curriculum based on children’s growing interests and inquiries. Learning is expressed through on going, and open-ended pedagogical documentation. Educators observe, record and document the learning processes in collaboration with children and whenever possible, their families. This approach to documentation makes the learning visible so it’s easier to reflect upon and discuss during the process of making the curriculum.
Our indoor and outdoor curriculum is organized around the four foundations of learning: belonging, well-being, engagement, and expression (How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years). Each programs’ environment (both indoors and outdoors) is intentional and unique and reflects the emerging interests of the children. Loose parts and natural materials support children in exploring their natural play spaces. With this purposeful approach to pedagogy, the curriculum is meaningful for the children.
We believe parents are an invaluable resource when it comes to their children. We value the knowledge and insight parents possess, as they are their child’s primary and most influential teacher. We strive to create a strong and meaningful partnership between home and our Early Learning Centres.
Our programs have an open-door approach, we welcome families to visit any time during program hours. Parents bring a unique connection that helps foster family and community relationships, giving us an appreciation for family diversity. From the first introduction to a new family or to a family that has been with CBCEL for many years, we continue to look for new and innovative ways to build stronger connections with families.
We begin the positive and engaging partnership with families during our gradual entry period. This period gives families the opportunity to participate alongside their child while gaining an understanding of their child’s program that extends beyond the written word. Parents and Educators alike have the opportunity to observe, engage and ask questions that will contribute to a better understanding to how best support the child.
Our learning environments reflect the diversity of the children in our Early Learning Centre’s and the world in which they live. Learning stories and photos are displayed throughout our programs to enhance connections; giving families and children a sense of belonging. To help foster and cultivate authentic relationships we extend invitations to families throughout the year to events such as our annual family breakfast and art exhibit.
CBCEL uses online communication tools to record and document children’s learning; providing parents with an opportunity to connect with their child’s experiences at the centre. Parents are encouraged to actively participate which can come in the form of offering insight to a story shared by an educator or sharing a story of their own; ultimately connecting home and centre based experiences.
We provide an early learning and care environment that is ideal for optimal early learning and development. Children are viewed as capable and competent co-learners; their natural curiosity and insatiable drive to explore their world are fostered and encouraged. Children are empowered explorers and are active participants in the development of the program’s curriculum.
Our Educators are responsive and supportive to the children’s individual needs. Educators are actively engaged with children. Both Educators and the environment provide opportunities for children to ask questions, problem solve, and communicate their ideas and thoughts by providing many different materials and opportunities to expand and extend their learning. We support and encourage children’s choice and follow their lead to guide their interest, focusing on the whole child.
Our classrooms are thoughtfully planned and responsive to children’s needs. Modifications to the environment occur to remain responsive to the needs and interests of the children.
Visuals (example: sequencing, ‘now and then’ boards) are displayed within our environment to assist the children in understanding the routines and expectations of the program. When needed we will also include the use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). We recognize children’s communication needs and abilities are diverse; Educators ensure that their communication is appropriate for each individual child.
Using supportive language and tone, Educators get down to the child’s eye level to communicate. Educators support children by giving them enough time to process and respond to a question and or requests. Educators are active listeners and help identify what the child is feeling and assist with expression by labelling emotions. Children’s feelings, needs, wants and interests are respected and validated. Educators respect and support the range of emotions expressed by children and recognize that children need opportunity, space, and time to work through their emotions. Educators practice empathetic responses so children understand that their Educators recognize and understand their emotions.
Understanding that children’s present and future well-being is influenced by their ability to self- regulate, our programs are set up to help children develop self-regulation capabilities by fostering positive interactions with one another. We arrange our environments to reduce the factors that may cause stress by offering an environment that encourages communication and self-expression (verbal and non-verbal expression). When working towards goals for children, educators move beyond preconceived expectations and outcomes and focus on how children learn. Regular observations, documentation and collaboration are key in program development.
Our programs provide environments and experiences that engage children in purposeful play; children are constantly investigating, discovering, creating, responding, improvising and expanding their knowledge base. Our natural playgrounds are also a perfect place for children to learn through creative exploration, play, inquiry, observation and imitation. Our early learning and care environments truly provide a place of wonder, exploration and discovery where children’s early experience lasts a lifetime.
Children have the opportunity to rest/sleep in an environment that is conducive to sleep, rest and relaxation for a duration of up to two hours.
We offer two nutritional snacks a day and lunch for our toddler and preschool children. Children attending full day school receive a nutritional afternoon snack. Our menus are aligned with Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide and Section 4- N utrition of the Child Care Centre L icensing Manual. Our Chef’s take into account children’s preferences when creating a nutritionally balanced menu. They connect with the programs and children daily during snack and lunch times and receive regular feedback.
We seek partnerships with parents and our communities to further strengthen and develop our programs and supports to children and families. One of our community partners is from Children’s Integration Support Services (CISS). CISS provides a range of supports to assist with the inclusion of children as well as be a resource for the programs and Educators.
Fostering positive partnerships in our Westboro and Greenboro communities continues to be important to CBCEL. If requested, we will support/connect our families to community services such as the Snowsuit Fund, local Food Banks, Crossroads Children’s Mental Health Services and other health related services as needed. Community resources and information is also posted on the parent bulletin boards.
We welcome suggestions from families for future community partners that families feel would be of meaning and value. Planned and spontaneous participation from families is welcomed.
We foster a supportive professional work place that respects collaborative communication. We provide opportunities for continuous professional growth, which includes reflective practices and quality assurance. Organizational or Centre specific meetings, as well as program team meetings, are held monthly.
All staff, students and volunteers will review and sign CBCEL’s policies and program statement before the commencement of employment and annually thereafter.
Educators have scheduled non-contact time to work on and complete program and learning assessments to support children and provide meaningful curriculum. Educators document and share children’s learning with parents through Storypark and documentation panels.
All Educators adhere to Ontario’s College of Early Childhood Educators Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
For more information, please see the following links:
h ttp://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/earlychildhood/early_learning_for_ev e ry_child_today.aspx