The Ontario government had recently published the findings of a task force that looked into early learning in Ontario, called Early Learning for Every Child Today, or ELECT. ELECT is a guide to support curriculum and teaching and learning in Ontario’s early childhood settings, including child care centres, kindergarten classrooms, home child care, nursery schools, Ontario Early Years Centres and other family support programs, and early intervention services who work with children from 0 to 6 years old.
It brings together established research findings and diverse perspectives, beliefs and recommended practices. It recognizes that families, communities and cultures hold distinct values about how young children should experience and interact with the world around them. Values are complemented by detailed attention to the early child development research in the fields of early childhood education, family studies, developmental psychology, neurosciences, anthropology, sociology, paediatrics, and epidemiology.
At BCCNS, we use the ELECT document to guide our work with children.
|BCCNS Kinders Program Principles||Links to Provincial ELECT Recommendations|
|BCCNS is a learning community of young children which focuses on early years learning, the children, and their families.||Early Development lays the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour, and health.|
|An intimate school setting fosters confidence in the child’s innate ability to learn and be successful.||Partnership with families and communities strengthen the ability of early childhood settings to meet the needs of young children.|
|Learning is built on a continuum of early learning experiences based on familiar routines, faces, and environment.|
|Emergent learning is based on the developmental needs of children and their learning interests, supported through knowledge and support of ECEs.|
|All children are accepted, nurtured and challenged based on their individual needs, strengths, cultural and family beliefs.||Respect for diversity, equality, and inclusion are pre-requisites for optimal development and learning.|
|ECEs plan for the multi-faceted learning needs of children – socially, emotionally, and intellectually through reflective practices, known routines, and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities.||A planned curriculum supports early learning.|
|Learning is observed and shared through documentation of growth and shared stories.|
|It is understood and accepted that children learn through play.||Play is a means to early learning that capitalizes on children’s natural curiousity and exuberance.|
|Children explore play-based activities in a relaxed learning environment to allow for natural learning occurrences through play.|
|Early Childhood Educators (ECE) understand the learning needs and styles of children, how they learn, and how they are best supported through developmentally appropriate, play-based, learning opportunities.||Knowledgeable and responsive educators are essential in early childhood education settings.|
BCCNS’s Kinders program is based on understanding that primary school readiness is broad, complex, and includes many important concepts. It addresses the myriad of developmental milestones that children reach in their early learning journey that lead them to emerging literacy, social and emotional maturity, physical growth, and intellectual awareness. It strives to meet the needs of the complete child in a rich and vibrant early childhood learning community.
by Kristin Osgoode
Can you believe it’s already early October? School routines, after-school activities and transportation logistics cause the weeks (and months) to whiz by. Yet a child’s perspective on time doesn’t seem to pass so quickly. Perhaps it has something to do with time being measured in sleeps? Lately, “How many more sleeps till Halloween?” is a common question around our house!
So, while it might seem old hat for parents, our little ones in pre-school and junior kindergarten are just getting used to new teachers and schedules. Depending on your child, they may be thriving in the independence or perhaps resisting it? Both are sometimes necessary and inevitable. How time flies. How quickly our children grow up!
This year marked the first year of big-boy school for one of our children. A fall baby, our son is now 4 and as curious, creative and active as ever. In an effort to provide him with a stimulating environment to kick-start his formal school experience, I evaluated various junior kindergarten options. As an adult learning and development consultant, I was familiar with and appreciate a variety of learning and educational philosophies. I recognize that we all have different learning styles, develop differently and all that good stuff. But early childhood education is not my training. I needed to inform myself.
After evaluating a variety of options, our family decided on the JK / 4’s enrichment program at Bells Corners Co-operative Nursery School. Offered as an alternative or supplement to elementary based JK, the program follows the Ontario guidelines for JK and Senior Kindergarten. What makes this program unique and apart from others is three-fold. First, the incredible teachers; a team with years of experience, trained in the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of children ages two years to five years of age.
Second, an approach called the Emergent Curriculum. Emergent curriculum is different than a theme-based approach, where the teachers choose the theme and time frame for the children. With Emergent Curriculum, learning initiatives are determined and led by the children. This doesn’t mean that they are being let loose and that they are not being taught anything else. The teachers develop the learning opportunities within the activities favored by the children, not picking a theme but watching, listening and learning what the children want to know and learn about. In this way, the child can link what they already know or can do with the new information or skills that he or she is ready to acquire. Called scaffolding (a common term in cognitive psychology), this preserves the children’s initiative and natural disposition of progress in learning (From, Reidgway and Storen “Why Choose Emergent Curriculum“). The benefits of this seem obvious but include: critical thinking; increased self-esteem; involvement in and love of learning.
The third benefit of the program offered at BCCNS lies in the low student to teacher ratio (8:1) that ensures plenty of one on one learning opportunities combined with group activities.
Other program differentiators include: introduction to French; frequent field trips and special guests in the class-room to foster a sense of community; news days to foster public speaking and self-esteem; a regular music and movement program; daily outdoor play exclusive to the 4’s in a well equipped yard and developmentally equipped gym for bad weather.
Our family would be hard pressed to afford the cost of private education and donâ€™t necessarily feel that this is required for our kids at this point. But how could we pass up the opportunity to provide a more personalized experience for our son, giving him the attention and low-ratio learning environment that all children would benefit from? Since Mr. McGuinty’s promised class size caps aren’t always the situation; the small class size (max 16) and ratio enables the teachers to work side by side with each child, helping develop their strengths and needs by either challenging them or giving them the extra little push so they can master an area. Our son is having a wonderful time. A month into it, we can see his social and academic progress already.
Although parent participation is welcomed, the JK enrichment program at BCCNS does not have duty days like the other programs offered through the school. Arrangements can be made to visit or observe a class with your child. Give a call, meet the teachers. It might be a great enrichment opportunity for your child!
Kristin Osgoode was a parent of two pre-schoolers and member of the School Council for Bells Corners Co-operative Nursery School.