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How Does Learning Happen

Our program follows the mandatory provincial direction (the How Does Learning Happen document) in planning and carrying out our programs and day to day activities. That can mean different things to different people but we will outline a few of the main components that hopefully should allow you to understand how and why our program is operating the way it is.

The idea that children are learning things while they are playing seems like a very simple common sense idea but there can be a dismissive attitude around that idea. We see children as being competent, capable, curious and rich in potential. We see our staff people and the environments they are working in with the children to be either catalysts to inspire and challenge the children or a road block to them achieving their potential.  

We have a number of areas that we are responsible for during the day with the children and some of those areas are to promote health, safety, nutrition and their well-being. When we look at those areas of responsibility they are fairly broad and they cover a lot of things that we do as a matter of routine each day. Our intention is to include these areas in our day to day planning with the children to support an environment that makes learning through play a priority.

In order for staff to be successful with your child they need to know your child which means that they have to observe and really see what your child is interested in, who he/she is and how they play. You will notice staff on their tablets quite a bit and that is part of the process of using these devices to document what is happening with their group. Once they start to get a sense of your child and how they are in the group, we want to see the teachers planning in their rooms and for the day with the interests of their group in mind. When they make those plans and the children are busy playing within the group it is important that staff are watching and documenting what the children are doing within their environment and then reacting and building on those daily play experiences.

Staff will document in the Hi Mama program thier learning by identifying what areas or domains they are reaching in the ELECT document that is embedded in the High Mama program. They will be writing stories and including photos of the child’s learning in their profile and as parents you have access to that on a continual basis.

Teachers need to support the child’s ability to self-regulate and support positive and responsive interactions in their environment. Ex. If a child is nervous to participate in a water activity that all of the other children are taking part in and fully enjoying and a staff person documents that for the parent, the parent may share with the staff that something happened with the child that scared or made him nervous around water activity. That then will give the staff person a better understanding and they might be able to expose the child through various play opportunities and setups that allow the child to become more comfortable with it.

In setting up routines we will try to reduce the number of transitions in the day so children are not having their valuable play time disrupted. This gives children the time to really investigate, challenge and have fun in a play environment they can call their own.

When we look at the issue of what would be considered managing of children’s behaviour we believe that a lot of what people would typically see as being challenging behaviour as activity that takes place when children are bored or not interested in what we are trying to have them participate in. As we remember being children, there probably aren’t a lot of negative associations with times where we were taking part in what we felt were fun play times. The reality is that we all do better when we are spending time doing things we enjoy.

Another element of “fun play” for children is when they participate in challenging rules or “risky play”. We have seen policy and procedure moved steadily towards almost bubble wrapping children for fear of any injury or possible harm coming to the child. The drawback of this type of mindset is that if children don’t ever have an opportunity to challenge or take risk they don't get to the point where they learn what their abilities are. This is another element where teachers need to be able to offer opportunities for children in a controlled supervised environment where they can challenge themselves while allowing some risk.

Ex. Our climbers are designed with slides that children can use after going up a set of stairs across a platform and then the child sits down and slides to the bottom. The climbers have adequate fall protection in the form of foam surfaces under the Astroturf so if a child falls by accident they are less likely to do damage to themselves. In previous years we were directed that no piece of equipment should ever be used in a way that was not the intended way for it to be used.

If you watch children playing many will want to investigate and try to walk up the slide instead of up the steps.   In offering a risky play opportunity to the children we might allow the children to change direction and supervise it for the whole of the group in a safe manner so they learn a different approach and skill set but there are less chances of someone getting hurt.

The important thing is that we have to maximise the opportunities for children to have good learning experiences through fun play and we have to setup environments that are respectful of each other with some rules because we want play that is fun but not a chaotic stressful environment either. 

The profile developed about your child ends up being a really great digital footprint of who your child is and how they spend their time with us. For many years down the road you will have that digital file of pictures, stories, communications and examples of your child’s time with us and a really special reminder of these precious years.