When children first arrive at our program, they are given opportunities to choose and direct their play. The environment is arranged to promote interactions amongst children and staff. Our role is to extend children’s play and provide play-based experiences to help them grow, learn and develop. Staff do this by joining in the play, listening to conversations and making comments to deepen the children’s thinking. For example, making cookies out of playdough with a small group of children might develop into a conversation about who bakes with their families....or what is our favourite kind of cookie. Building with blocks supports cooperation and imagination when many friends join in this activity together. This might lead to a discussion about feelings if a friend breaks our tower before we are finished playing.
Play spaces and materials are set out to make it inviting for children as they enter the room. Items are easily visible and accessible. Materials are changed when staff see children are no longer showing interest or stimulated. The room is arranged to allow for fine motor, large muscle, block, music, science, art, sand/ water and imaginative play.
West Kildonan Tiny Tots curriculum provides some planned activities as well as many child-initiated spontaneous play activities. Activities throughout the year are chosen based on themes, seasons, holidays and interests. When a parent fills out the registration form, we ask them to list their child’s interests. Staff try to incorporate many of these interests during the course of the year. One year, we had many children interested in dinosaurs so we spent two weeks having fun with many dinosaur activities. We also had many children having a new baby in their families. Staff incorporated this into our “All About Me” theme. We all brought in our baby pictures and talked about our families and how we could help by being a big brother or sister. Another example, after the first snowfall, many children were very excited about the snow but many weren’t dressed to go outside. We decided to bring the snow inside which led to many discussions about the cold, snow melting, etc.
Our daily schedule allows for at least one hour of interrupted free play time once children have arrived. Consistent transitions between activities help children feel secure and learn what’s coming next in their day. Circle time introduces the children to group listening and promotes language and social skills. It may involve a story, music or movement which keeps children actively participating. Snack time encourages independence, language and introduces new food experiences.
West Kildonan Tiny Tots values the importance that every child and family in the program is unique. Inclusive practices help children with additional support needs participate in our program by adapting certain activities or using strategies to meet each child’s needs. Toys and materials are placed so that all children have access to them. Parents and children are encouraged to share information about their culture and diversity. Staff also encourage this by selecting dolls and play food items of different ethnic groups for our house centre. Toys in our play buckets show people of different age groups and physical abilities. Pictures around the room show many people of different cultures and abilities. This helps to strengthen acceptance of others so we can learn from one another.
West Kildonan Tiny Tots hopes our curriculum statement helps parents understand our program and how we encourage growth and development of all children.