Our child care programs, summer camp, and forest school are child-centered and inquiry based.
By Christine Tyrrell, Communications and Marketing Coordinator
The following feel good story comes to us thanks to our educators from Upper Canada Child Care at Blessed Scalabrini CES. It’s also an example of what UCCC’s Program Statement looks like in practice.
The centre’s educators had been observing the children’s interest in big vehicles and community workers for some time. Perhaps the children had been exploring about this at school? (Ontario’s curriculum for primary grades includes a focus on “interrelationships within the local community”, and children learn about community helpers).
Whatever the reason for children’s emerging interests, to foster children’s exploration, play, and inquiry is one of our Program Statement’s curriculum goals.
Now back to the story. The children in the School Age Program had decided they wanted to create artwork and letters for their community’s disposal workers, to make sure the workers felt appreciated. So, over the course of a week, and supported by the educators in the program, the children worked to put together a box to send to the Vaughan Disposal Department. There’s another curriculum goal in our Program Statement: to provide for child-initiated and adult-supported experiences.
While some adults might believe that they need to direct children, schedule every minute of their day, or even “entertain” them, we believe that kids have great ideas of their own, and what they need is more space to be able to freely explore and develop them. Our play-based programs offer school age children a more relaxed environment, while still supported by caring educators. It’s a nice balance to a regimented school day. And it’s fun to see what can come from supporting children’s ideas.
Well, wouldn’t you know, just a few days later, the child care centre received an email from the Vaughan Disposal Department, thanking the staff and children for their beautiful artwork. To further show appreciation, the Vaughan Disposal Department offered to come by the child care centre with a collection truck to do a “Show and Tell”, giving the children a chance to walk around, sit in the cab, and ask questions.
When centre supervisor, Farnaz Rajabi, read the letter to the children, they began counting down the days until the garbage truck would come to the centre!
Finally, the big day finally arrived. The children enthusiastically greeted the disposal worker and followed their instructions to throw a piece of paper into the truck’s disposal bucket, eagerly watching the bucket raise and dump its contents into the holding chamber.
We can just imagine the excitement the children felt as they took turns looking around the truck’s cabin.
At the end of the visit, the children all expressed thanks to the worker. But that wasn’t the end. The conversations continued all day; the children talked about their experience, and then told their families how they’d been community helpers (yet another one of our Program Statement goals: to involve local community partners to support children, families, and educators). This story also demonstrates “the four foundations of learning”: engagement, expression, belonging, and well-being (see How Does Learning Happen?).