Our curriculum has been developed to be inclusive of children from all cultures, needs, and different stages in life. Our program allows children the freedom to imagine, hypothesize and make meaning of the world around them while growing socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually. Based in Reggio Emilia philosophies, the environment is used as a third teacher and a provocation to stir creativity and thought. Uniquely, we also incorporate music into our daily activities and free play through song, dance, and a variety of musical instruments.
Unique to our program – throughout the day musical instruments are readily available to children. These include a variety of percussion instruments such as tambourines, drums, and shakers as well as piano, guitar, ukulele and more. Music is a language and a way for children to express themselves; we delight to nurture this passion and expression in young children. During our circle time we include singing, dance and playing instruments together as we learn about rhythm, melody and what fun music can be as a daily part of our lives.
In our Daily special music time we learn more specific music theory, action songs, composing, instruments and more. We encourage children to sing and make up songs as they go about their day, even away from our special music time. Staff model this throughout the day and often sing to the children to calm them, change activity and encourage, as well as incorporating songs and rhyme into other teaching subjects. Other top & leading Preschools and childcare programs do not offer special Music instruction daily – this is extremely unique to our program, a feature so important to the development of children that we have centered our day around it.
Social skills such as empathy, generosity and cooperating with others are learned through modelled behaviour and play. Teachers always model good behaviours and oversee negotiates and interactions between children. Through this, they allow children to develop and discover their own tool box of communicating with others. Our centre is set up in a way that will encourage realistic and healthy interactions. For example, our dramatic play area inspires realistic play whereby the children may imitate roles of their parents in the home if it is set up as such, or builders in a construction zone. Whether children are enjoying meal time with one another or exploring with natural materials, communicating with others is an essential and natural part of their play.
Emotional development is closely related to social development and refers to how a child feels about himself or herself, people in his or her life, and his or her surrounding environment. We create a positive space where our caregivers are attentive, sensitive, responsive, and provide a nurturing relationship. The centre is rich in language involving reading books, dramatic play, singing, and listening and environment that offer exploration, curiosity and discovery. Caregivers nurture children in identifying emotions in themselves and others and how to manage feelings.
Physical development involves gross or large motor activity using the entire body as well as fine motor skills. On a daily basis we go for walks around the New Westminster Quay or play at one of the three playgrounds located nearby. If we are indoors, activities and structures are provided to promote healthy physical growth. During our circle time and music program, children also have a chance to express themselves through dance and playing instruments which assists in gross and fine motor growth.
We provide an environment that promotes healthy intellectual growth by allowing room for trial and error, exploring, questioning, experimenting, listening and playing. A variety of materials are in the classroom that touch on all developmental areas, and caregivers ask open ended questions that encourage children’s own thinking and understanding. As a Reggio Emilia based centre we desire to create an environment (whether it be through particular materials/activities set out or adult/peer interactions) that encourages children to think of ideas and have a supportive space to try them out.
Language is learned and understood in a variety of ways and means, and we delight in taking part in such exciting development. We provide a comfy reading corner with books that will connect with children from all different backgrounds, cultures and stages. However, as inclusive as we desire to be, we will not permit books that might portray scary or disturbing images or words. All books in our reading corner are aimed at promoting healthy growth and learning.
Children are encouraged to read on their own, with others and with caregivers. We encourage children to create their own stories as well by providing felt stories, finger plays and other props that allow them to imagine and create their own. Throughout the day, staff are always discussing, problem solving, brainstorming, and listening with and to children individually and in groups. We also provide two circle times as well as a special music time in the day where stories are told, songs are sung, and children have a chance to share and listen to others.
An inclusive environment
It is important to us that every child feels welcome, understood and is able to participate in any and every activity that they’d like no matter their culture, need or stage in life. The environment is set up in such a way that materials are easily accessible, a wide range of materials, toys or books are provided that can identify with children from different cultures and developmental stages or needs. Adults are aware and sensitive in the way they discuss and interact with students understanding that everyone has different needs, learning styles and their own unique personality.
The environment as the “third teacher”
We view the environment as a living, changing system. Greenman (1988) states that the environment “indicates the way time is structured and the roles we are expected to play. It conditions how we feel, think, and behave; and it dramatically affects the quality of our lives”.
To have such an environment we insist that it is has a variety of materials made available to children and adults. Creating a space with a wide range of materials that foster creativity and learning provides a place for children to use a variety of techniques, and helps us in understanding how a child/children learn.