Our View of Children: OPCC believes children are competent, capable of complex thinking, curious and rich in potential. Children are intrinsically motivated to learn and when provided with enriched environments, nurturing adult interactions, support and the freedom to explore, they can become self-motivated learners.
Our understanding of children has evolved over time and is influenced by ongoing research, experience, collaboration with families and community partners. The ability to adapt and change has allowed OPCC to be responsive and flexible with program opportunities for children and families.
Supporting children’s social and emotional growth is at the forefront of our work. Our caring, trained and nurturing educators promote children’s social and emotional development, knowing that these are key foundational skills for success later in life. Role modelling, full engagement in children’s play, and environments that are constructed with social and emotional health in mind, are just a few of the ways we do this.
Families come in various shapes and sizes and with a great number of strengths. Parents are children’s first and most important teachers, and always want what is best for their children. We believe in the capacity of parents to raise resilient, healthy, successful people, but we were never meant to raise children alone. OPCC is a part of the support system that families need to do the important work of parenting. We recognize that parents are the experts of their children and know them best. We work hard to create a safe, warm and inviting place for families to learn and grow together. Parents are always welcome to participate, share, network and get involved at OPCC.
As providers of high quality licensed childcare in Oakville, we participate in the Quality First Initiative (refer to the Licensed Programs General Information Booklet for more details). We are governed by the Ontario Ministry of Education (MEDU) and regulated by Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA).
OPCC has been Oakville's lead agency for Ontario's EarlyON Child and Family Centre initiative for more than 15 years. These free, universally accessible programs offer safe, age appropriate early learning environments and opportunities for families to meet. Qualified and talented educators nurture children, connect and support families raising young children.
We understand and value the importance parents and caregivers play in the healthy development of children. Our family support programs provide parenting support and resources in a variety of ways including workshops, telephone and in person support and community connections.
OPCC has embraced and is working with the Ministry of Education’s How Does Learning Happen? (HDLH) framework. At the core of this framework are relationships. The foundations of HDLH include; Belonging, Well-Being, Engagement and Expression.
It is important to note that the following goals and approaches are incorporated in all OPCC programs.
Approaches / How We Do It: A sense of belonging allows children to feel safe and secure in their environment and with the people around them. When we belong, we are able to develop deeper attachments and a willingness and enthusiasm to listen, learn and interact with others. All children are welcome to participate in our programs.
Young children benefit from an affirming approach that encourages positive interactions with other children and with adults. Children and their families will experience warm supportive relationships in our programs and because of this they are happy and motivated to learn. Experiencing positive relationships in the early years has significant long term impacts on their physical and mental health, and they will go on to have success in school.
Support positive and responsive interactions among the children, parents, caregivers and educators
- Educators encourage and support children’s social development with adults and peers – using strategies and best practices, educators guide social development in the program
- Educators are committed to providing positive nurturing relationships that help children feel inspired and connected to adults and to each other
- Parents have multiple opportunities to participate in all OPCC programs e.g. EON drop ins, licensed program Meet & Greet orientation, classroom visits are encouraged throughout the year to share any skills and interests (see Licensed Programs General Information Booklet)
- Parents are encouraged to share information or concerns about their children, keep educators updated or inquire about their children at any time – Educators are able to chat at a mutually agreeable time
- Educators provide families with information on play and the importance of play
- Educators are positive role models with the children, each other and other adults
- Educators in EON programs work to support parents and connect families to each other
Foster the engagement of and ongoing communication with parents about the program and their children
- Educators are open to conversations with parents about their children and welcome feedback and questions
- Families in licensed programs are provided with information about what the child is doing in the program through daily exploration forms, monthly menus, monthly reflections, parent visits and newsletters. Even a chat at the door, helps keep parents connected with their educators. Parents who wish to speak to an educator about their child are welcome to schedule a time that is convenient for both parties.
- Children’s learning is captured through documentation and learning stories which is shared with families
- Parents are encouraged to keep educators informed about their child’s health and wellbeing
- Family events and celebrations happen throughout the year, e.g. traditional holidays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Dad’s Hike, swim parties and family day trips
- Parents are encouraged to share their special talents with the class and are welcomed to schedule time to come into the program and share with the children
- Educators observations and feedback are provided to each family at the end of the year, using the ELECT document as our framework
- OPCC has a full time Family Support Coordinator that is available to support parents with parenting questions and concerns; Parenting and child development information is frequently shared with parents.
- In licensed programs, when required, meetings with families are set up to discuss goals, additional support and progress for the child. Discussion, decisions, plans and ideas are documented in their child’s file.
Involve local community partners and allow those partners to support the children, their families and educators
- OPCC welcomes and encourages community partners to work with us to support children, parents and educators at the centre
- Service coordination meetings and team meetings can be facilitated for children with differing abilities
- Throughout the year we invite interesting community programs to visit and share their expertise and expand children’s knowledge and understanding e.g. Humane Society, fire department
- Partnering with agencies, staff training takes place to support educators in providing a quality program
- Supports for children and their families are offered in a holistic, family centred way. Close partnerships with other agencies allow us to provide service coordination and family meetings when needed to set goals for children’s growth and development.
- With collaborative relationships and excellent communication we work to ensure positive outcomes for children and families.
Goals for Children: Every child is developing a sense of self, health and well-being.
Approaches / How We Do It: The health, safety, nutritional needs and well-being of children are very important and we know are foundational to children’s ability to learn. We have rigorous policies in place around health and safety practices and these are reviewed by all educators on a regular basis.
Promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being of the children
- Health checks of children upon arrival – policies are in place to respond to illness
- Regular environmental checks – of toys, equipment and classrooms for hazards and cleanliness
- To reduce the transmission of illness, staff and children wash their hands upon arrival, before and after snacks and meals, after toileting, before and after water play and other times as needed
- Varied and nutritious snacks and lunches are provided in accordance with Canada’s Food Guide – see menus posted by licensed program
- Drinking water is available for children and families as needed
- We provide extra support for children when a little more nurturing is needed, offer more adult guidance for peer to peer interactions, and foster warm, responsive adult child relationships
Encourage the children to interact and communicate in a positive way and support their ability to self-regulate
- Educators guide children through transitions by providing cues to prepare children ahead of time and using visual pictures and schedules in the program and during routines. Using routines and cues at transition times helps prepare children so they know what to expect, which helps make them feel safe and secure.
- Children are encouraged to question and explore, share their ideas and co-learn with their educators
- Educators model appropriate behaviours and support interactions when conflicts arise
- Comfort and nurturing are provided when children are needing help or just want a cuddle; quiet cozy areas of the room are provided for children to go to when desired
- Children’s self-regulation is encouraged and supported through interactions and guidance from educators
- Educators help children to develop self-awareness, learn how to recognize feelings in themselves and others, and build a “toolbox” of strategies that can help them to calm their emotions and find appropriate ways to express themselves. These are all essential skills that contribute to future success in school, work and relationships.
Incorporate indoor and outdoor play, as well as active play, rest and quiet time, into the day, and give consideration to the individual needs of the children receiving child care
- Our half day licensed program, is not required to have an outdoor playground. We understand the need for children to build their gross motor competence, so we offer gross motor activities daily in the program.
- Through active music group times, children utilize large muscles which also support the development of a healthy body and mind
- Quiet time is available during the program, children can look at books in the book area or can find a quiet area in the classroom – these spaces can offer much needed soothing time and helps with developing self-regulation
- We do our best to accommodate the diverse needs of families and when possible, provide alternatives or modifications e.g. a special dietary request or a private area for breastfeeding
Approaches / How We Do It: At OPCC children and families are able to experience a variety of safe, clean, age appropriate and interesting environments that nurture children’s healthy growth and development. OPCC fosters children’s emerging independence, self-confidence, and skill development.
Foster the children’s exploration, play and inquiry
Play and exploration are at the core of early learning. The environment is where learning is fostered and takes place. To this end, you will find our environments rich with materials and resources for children to use as they construct ideas, try out hypothesis, and explore new and interesting materials. Just as important as the materials in the environment are the people. Our educators are highly trained professionals and everyone is committed to making your experience at OPCC a memorable one. Our teaching staff understand children and families and work tirelessly to ensure every child has a positive experience.
- OPCC believes that children learn through play and are given opportunities to explore, test, try and learn in a collaborative classroom environment
- Educators will provide a resource rich environment for children to discover and experience
Provide child-initiated and adult-supported experiences
Play is children’s work and is essential to healthy development. We understand that not all play is equal and child directed play provides the best learning opportunities. We all learn best when we are engaged and interested in an experience. When educators listen and observe children, they can develop a deeper understanding of children’s interests and perspectives. Programs at OPCC offer children ample opportunity to direct their play and explore new ideas and expand old ones. The role of adults in children’s play is to enhance the children’s experiences, not to take over or determine the direction of the play. Adults support ideas, provide resources and materials, help children reflect on what they know and think, and provide emotional support and encouragement.
In the program, children will find:
- Opportunities for room exploration in variety of activities
- Open ended materials are available and allow for exploration and discovery
- Group times and individual interactions that allow for discovery of areas of child’s interest which leads into further opportunities of discovery
- They are invited to share their ideas and interests with educators and peers. Interests and ideas are documented and explored by educators and children together.
Plan for and create positive learning environments and experiences in which each child’s learning and development will be supported and is inclusive of all children, including children with individualized plans
As a result of our view of children as competent, curious and capable, our educators work as partners with children and families in the learning process. Great things are possible when we are able to see ourselves as both learner and teacher. There is much to learn from children and through inquiry, open ended questions, provocation and hands on experiences, our educators extend children’s learning and challenge thinking.
We use documentation and learning stories to respect, preserve and enhance children’s learning. Documenting children’s learning allows them to see where they have come from, makes learning visible, and encourages children to revisit their ideas. In addition, the documentation helps the adults to better understand children’s perspectives and ideas, and when appropriate work with children to encourage further exploration of knowledge and ideas.
- Educators observe children’s areas of interest and reflect upon it in order to provide experiences that encourage the children to explore and ask questions
- Educators refer to the Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) document as a resource that provides comprehensive, detailed child development information. It is used to help determine skills that educators can be working on with children.
- Educators provide children the opportunity to wonder and provide time for children to discover more about their areas of interest
- Educators use daily exploration postings, monthly reflections and documentation, and offer insight and feedback about children’s learning and activities while participating in the program
- Children with differing abilities who are working with Halton Region Inclusion Services will have individual goals established in conjunction with the parents and will have an individual plan created for them
- Educators have opportunities to spend time together to share their observations, reflect upon their observations and plan for the interests of the children in the group
Approaches / How We Do It: The ability to express thoughts, emotions, needs and wants is an essential part of healthy growth and development for children. Children who are able to express themselves in a variety of ways feel more competent, understood by others, are able to develop the ability to self-reflect and communicate more effectively. Expression is a complex and creative process. Many would say that the use of language is our primary way of expressing ideas and feelings; however we believe there are many other ways for children to share themselves with others. The arts (music, dance, song and art), storytelling, conversation and behaviour are all forms of expression. Our educators understand the complexities of communication and work hard to enhance children’s abilities by offering children a variety of ways to explore and develop communication competence.
- Educators respond to children’s efforts to communicate, whether it is pointing, gesturing, requesting, crying, or through body language. Educators are there to interpret, understand and support children’s needs
- Challenging behaviour is often an expression of difficult feelings and/or unmet needs. Our educators seek to understand more deeply what children are expressing and help them to verbalize their feelings and meet their needs
- Educators use visual tools to help communicate with the children
- Educators support language development through the extension of language, modeling and encouragement
- Educators use paraphrasing when responding to children when necessary, encouraging their efforts and helping them to feel listened to and have a sense of belonging
- Ongoing conversations between children and adults, support language development and expression
- Using a variety of open ended materials and art mediums, children are encouraged to express themselves creatively
- Creative expression of ideas and feelings are fostered and encouraged by educators
- If required, referrals for communication support are provided to families
- Dance, music and song are recognized and encourage as expressive outlets
Quality knowledgeable Educators
Support Educators who interact with the children at OPCC in relation to continuous professional learning
- OPCC provides an annual half day of professional development for all staff
- In house training opportunities are available throughout the year
- Through ongoing information shared in the child care community, information is provided to staff on a regular basis
- Our caring, responsive knowledgeable educators have various qualifications including a passion to providing a stimulating learning environment. Our early childhood educators are registered with the College of ECE and other staff have a wide variety of experiences and qualifications
- All staff have completed a Criminal Reference Check including the Vulnerable Sector Screen and all program staff are required to have a valid certificate in standard first aid with infant and child CPR
- Community agencies support educators working with children with differing abilities which can benefit all children
- As a Quality First participant, we receive ongoing training and support in licensed programs
Our commitment to quality programs
Document and review the impact of the strategies set out above on the children and their families
- Families are encouraged to provide informal feedback on an ongoing basis
- Families are given the opportunity throughout the year to give feedback both formally and informally
- Reflective observations about the program are discussed among educators regularly. Educators share and debrief their observations with each other and discuss plans for how to build on what the children are interested in and doing
- Policies and procedures and all Licensed Program General Information Booklets are reviewed annually
- This program statement will be reviewed annually by all staff, students and volunteers. Staff, parents, students and volunteers are notified in writing of any revisions to this program statement
- All new staff, students and volunteers review this program statement prior to interacting with children and when the program statement is modified
Through observations in programs, OPCC will ensure that the approaches set out in the program statement are implemented.