Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre is a place where learning and fun become one.
We believe that if children are having fun and are actively encouraged and well supervised, learning takes care of itself. Studies have found that children are more likely to retain information learned when they are engaged in an enjoyable and meaningful activity, and that's what Together We Grow is all about.
Our childcare programs and preschool curricula integrate a wealth of intriguing and engaging learning activities that stimulate brain development in children. Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre uses How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years (2014) as its principal guiding document under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 to provide its program.
We use these guidelines to address each child’s need for fun, creativity, active play, communication skills, expression, engagement, belonging, problem-solving and decision-making skills, cognitive growth, social interaction, rest, well-being, and nutrition. We make each day a happy learning experience for your child by including opportunities for socialization, group play, reading, and arts & crafts.
We strive to be organized around the foundations of belonging, well-being, engagement and expression in children where the goals and expectations integrate the six guiding principles of ELECT (Early Learning for Every Child Today). Besides How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre’s program also references, and is in compliance with, the following policies, pedagogy and curriculum documents for programming by the Ministry of Education:
- Ontario Early Years Framework
- Ontario Early Learning Framework
- Think, Feel, Act Lessons from Research About Young Children
Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre views your children as competent individuals, capable of complex thinking, curious and rich in potential. We value and build on their strengths and abilities. We encourage them to interact and communicate in a positive way and support their ability to self-regulate. Our programming allows your children to realize their full potential by indulging their capabilities and curiosities. They can try new things and explore new ideas; all while learning and developing at their own pace.
Our physical set-up meets your child’s need to become independent and self-reliant by allowing free choice of play materials, and, with the exception of routines, free use of these materials (within limits). Materials consist of objects that encourage representation and allow children to gain awareness of the world around them. Tables, toy shelves, toilets, etc. are all at the child’s level. Your children are encouraged to be self-reliant in routines such as dressing, toileting, washing, eating, and tidying up their play items. Lunch happens in a family setting where children and adults can have conversations, and children have the ability to explore independence. An adult is available for assistance when needed, but your child is made to feel responsible for the job at hand.
Initiative, Imagination, and the Courage to Face the Situation
The creative segment of the program meets your child’s need to develop initiative, imagination, and the courage to face situations. Children are given no set patterns to follow when working with paint, paper, play-dough, markers, or any other creative media. They may use these materials the way they wish. Creative materials are always available and we encourage children to explore freely at different times of the day.
Dramatic toys (home centre, blocks, puppets, etc.) stimulate your child’s imagination. Using these toys, children enjoy role-playing, building houses, roads, etc. No one tells them what to construct. They are encouraged to take on other roles and use the materials to represent what they see in the world. They are provided with materials that may spark interest and encourage ideas they can extend and enrich. In our dramatic centre we have clothing, pots, pans, utensils, bags, and other household materials to encourage the children to represent their play, and continue to take on other roles. These materials change according to their interests and developmental needs.
In the block area, your child is not just learning about building towers. We encourage children to explore properties of measurement, numeration, and probability. With our integrated play-based philosophy, your child learns concepts that reflect on high-order thinking and strategies to solve problems. With scaffolding and adult support, children can explore properties that can extend and enrich their individual interests (e.g. measuring their bodies with non-standard materials, and comparing to standard forms of measurement).
We provide an environment that allows your children to explore their surroundings and fosters curiosity. Our outdoor play space is available as an extension of our rooms and can be used as an alternate play space (if ratio allows), in addition to our regular outdoor play times.
In addition to a setting that is conducive to play-based learning, Together We Grow also provides a safe, caring and healthy environment for your children. We strive to ensure that they feel they belong, making friends and interacting with their teachers. We provide activities that foster ideas of belonging. These activities are based on diversity and encourage cultural exploration. We do this a.o. through storytelling, music, hands-on planned activities, and special field trips or visitors.
We understand that each child’s development differs and that factors such as family, community, and life experiences are of influence. In each case, we aim to fully integrate all areas of the child’s development into our program.
In setting our goals for the children we recognize that:
- Every child has a sense of belonging when he or she is connected to others and contributes to their world.
- Every child is developing a sense of self, health and well-being.
- Every child is an active and engaged learner who explores the world with body, mind and senses.
- Children are capable communicators who express themselves in many ways.
This is, of course, consistent with the pedagogy of the Ministry of Education. To foster learning and support your children’s interests, Together We Grow offers a variety of daily activities in the areas of language and physical exercises, literacy, numeracy, music, outdoor play, science, nature, rest time, blocks (fine motor and gross motor skills) and creative arts.
Our programs are intended to:
- Encourage your children to interact and communicate in a positive way and support their ability to self-regulate.
- Foster your children’s exploration, play and inquiry.
- Provide child-initiated and adult-supported experiences.
- Offer opportunities to create relationships with others in the program.
Health & Safety, Nutrition and Well-Being of Children
We know that the early years set the foundation for your children’s health and well-being.
- The brain’s architecture is shaped by a child’s interactions and relationships with parents and other significant people in their lives.
- Early brain development is stimulated through experiences and interactions with responsive adults.
We understand that the first step in establishing and nurturing health, safety and well-being for the children in our programs is through the connections they make with the program staff, volunteers and students on placements. Below are some other specific ways to promote well-being in our programs:
Health and Safety — As a licensed childcare operator, Together We Grow strives to meet and exceed all health and safety requirements of the Ministry of Education and local government by-laws. We post relevant information outside the classrooms on our “Parent Board,” while others (e.g. Anaphylaxis Policy) are provided in this Parent Handbook. You can also speak to our program staff at any time to view our complete Illness policy and procedures.
Every day, at Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre we complete thorough health and safety checks of the indoor and outdoor spaces.
Rest periods — Children have a rest period after lunch, if they do not feel like sleeping, they may have quiet time .
Nutrition — Together We Grow starts the day with a healthy morning snack for the children. Our centre has a chef on site who daily prepares morning snacks, lunch, and afternoon snacks. Our menus are on a 4 week rotation, and are posted on the Parent Board in the main foyer of the centre. To accommodate children with anaphylactic allergies, dietary or religious food requirements our chef also follows our Allergies/Food Restrictions List.
A Sense of Closeness and Belonging — The staff and educators at Together We Grow are consistent and gentle. Each child is given individual attention during the day and special attention should he/she need it. Each group is comprised of children of similar age. Some may be slightly younger or older, but developmentally they are at the same stage. Our caring staff will always make your child feel comfortable and valued. We support positive, responsive interactions between children, parents, and educators.
Relationships among Children, Families, Staff and Community Partners
Together We Grow works with families and children as a team. We foster collaborative and co-operative relations between children and adults. We believe that a relationship of trust is the best foundation. Parents and educators need to work together for the children to meet their maximum potential.
In our programs we promote a sense of belonging for children and their families. We do this by modeling positive communication and joint partnership with families. We use daily log books and daily feedbacks. Our staff models appropriate ways to resolve conflicts, encourages problem solving strategies, and develops responsibility while expanding social skills. In time, children will develop these skills and be better equipped to deal with daily conflicts independently which allows them to be self-reliant and capable. Together We Grow is committed to working collaboratively with all of our community partners to meet the best interest of the children and their families.
Positive Self-Expression, Communication and Self-Regulation
Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre’s inclusive programming leads to a sense of belonging in the children. Progressive learning environments and practices focused on play-based learning encourage your children’s self-expression, communication, self-regulation and their ability to deal with stress. As they learn how to remain in, and return to, a state of calm in stressful situations, they are better able to control their emotions, pay attention, ignore distractions, and understand the consequences of their actions. The staff models best practices and fosters an awareness of the children's own ability to regulate their emotions.
In our inclusive learning environments, we welcome children of all abilities. Respect for diversity, equality, and inclusion is vital for optimal development and learning. Here are some ways in which we create an inclusive environment in our programs:
- Recognize each child as having equal rights to participate in program activities, trips, and events
- Recognize and respect the unique qualities of each child and family, including ancestry, culture, ethnicity, race, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, family environment, and developmental abilities and needs.
- Create strategies that value the culture and first language of all children.
- Establish programming strategies to foster an inclusive learning environment in which every child can participate.
- View the diversity of children and families as an asset, and plan programs to reflect differences and enrich the environment.
Our programs focus on active, play-based learning. It is the way children learn best, because it's their natural response to the environment around them. When children are manipulating objects, acting out roles, or experimenting with different materials, they are engaged in learning through play. Play allows them to actively construct, challenge, and expand their own understandings by making connections to prior experiences, thereby opening the door to new learning. Intentional play-based learning enables children to investigate, ask questions, solve problems, and engage in critical thinking. Play is responsive to each child’s unique learning style and capitalizes on his or her innate curiosity and creativity.
Trust in the World and People
Our staff meets your children’s needs to develop and build continued trust as they build relationships with peers and adults. Our staff is cheerful and happy to see the children and families each day, they are consistent and reliable. Each staff member follows the same principles and supports the daily drop-off that is so valuable and important for the children’s emotional and social sense of belonging. The day is conducted in a familiar pattern. Everything is planned following your child’s lead and interest.
Children, for whom this is their first experience away from home, will find it to be an extension of home.
Self-Worth: Encouraging Each Child to Reach their Maximum Potential
Each child is an individual, and is treated as such. The classroom groups and teacher-to-student ratio is small enough so no child is overlooked. Children are not rushed into activities for which they may be unprepared. Routines are conducted by guiding small numbers of children from one activity to another; children accomplish each task at their own pace. At the end of each day, the child leaves Together We Grow with a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Growing in Language and Cognitive Skills
Our program focuses on play-based learning where learning happens when your children manipulate, explore and experiment. Purposeful play-based learning enables children to investigate, ask questions, solve problems, and engage in critical thinking. Play is responsive to your child’s unique learning style and capitalizes on their instinctive curiosity and vision. We develop our lesson plans over a period of one or two weeks and planned to coincide with the interests of the children.
We use puzzles for spatial concepts, matching, sorting, we provide seriation, and counting games. We teach science concepts for which we set up a science centre. Books are available. Stories, poems, songs, games and finger plays are used daily for language development.
Children articulate their ideas and use different languages to express them.
Together We Grow respects, fosters, responds, supports, and includes different cultures and languages. In our inclusive learning environments, we welcome children of all abilities. An inclusive learning environment in our programs is implemented by:
- Acknowledging diversity and valuing the culture and first language of all children
- Providing an environment that is accessible to each child
- Recognizing each child as unique, and
- Working with the families around their developmental needs.
Every day, weather permitting, your child enjoys two hours of outdoor activity unless a physician advises otherwise in writing. Learning to run, jump, climb and take turns is a healthy way to participate in group activities, while developing coordination and strength. Planned activities are available as an extension of the indoor play space. Indoor materials are brought outside to enrich and extend learning.
Parent Engagement and Communication
Together We Grow encourages and practices open communication with the families. We aim to foster outreach, engagement, and communication with families about our program and their children’s learning experiences. Communication books with learning stories are available daily in our centre. Sharing knowledge is integral to the success of your child. Respect, empathy, trust, and honesty are core values in all our interactions with our families. In addition to the daily interaction with program staff, we offer many opportunities for parent feedback and involvement, such as surveys, monthly newsletters, parent-teacher conferences offered as needed, and a weekly parent communication board . We use parent input to improve our programs and services. The partnership with the families supports our program in many ways:
- It helps meet the child’s needs. Families know their children best, and are the first and most powerful influence on learning and development.
- It aids in building a powerful relationship by understanding family structures, values, language and their culture.
Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre is committed to involving and engaging local community partners in supporting children, families and staff.
Resource Staff from Early Intervention Services of York Region, York Region Preschool Speech & Language, E.R.I.K., Sick Kids, Ontario Ministry of Education, and Blue Hills Child and Family Centre will assist, as necessary, in setting up and maintaining an appropriate program for each child with a special need.
Together We Grow Learning and Childcare also works with volunteers and students from the community, by providing placement, training, learning opportunities, and practical work experience in the areas of programming and management. Volunteers and students on placement enhance the high-quality care and individual attention given to your children in the programs.
Supporting Staff in Continuous Professional Learning
Together We Grow is committed to hiring, training, and fairly compensating staff. We hire staff with a positive and sensitive attitude towards children. Our non-discriminatory hiring practices provide individuals of all backgrounds an opportunity for employment. We believe that everyone has worth and value; and all staff are entitled to be respected, supported, and treated fairly.
The staff of Together We Grow fosters your children’s inquiry and creativity through positive adult-child interactions. They develop programs that support early learning. They work closely with your children and plan daily, based on the observations they make on the children’s interests. In this way, learning is extended, by encouraging children to build upon their existing knowledge, leading to deeper investigation with materials and the environment. Staff also plan for and create positive learning environments and experiences in which your child’s learning and development will be supported.
At Together We Grow Learning and Childcare Centre, we believe that knowledgeable and responsive early educators:
- Recognize that responding to the unique abilities, needs, and characteristics of each child, family, and community is central to supporting learning and development.
- Engage with children as co-learners as they explore their environments.
- Provoke children’s thinking, create meaningful programs, and guide interactions with children and their families.
- Use a warm and positive approach to support children’s developing ability to express emotions and take other perspectives.
- Know when to stand back and observe, and when to enter children’s play to stimulate thinking.
- Make a commitment to build self-awareness, regularly reflect on practices, and engage in new learning experiences, both individually and with colleagues.
Formal professional learning is vital, but we also know that the most central professional growth happens day-to-day, as our staff co-learn with your children, and with each other, as self-reflective professionals.
All other program staff complete a specific training program designed by Together We Grow Learning and Childcare, and approved by the Ministry of Education. All program staff attend mandatory bi-monthly professional learning meetings and receive training on an ongoing basis.
Documenting and Reviewing the Impact of the Together We Grow Learning & Childcare Centre’s Learning Program
At Together We Grow Learning and Childcare Centre, we understand that pedagogical documentation is a way for our program staff to learn about how your children think and learn.
Our staff make daily observations of children in the program, and use this information to inform their future planning. Our intention is to move beyond reporting of children’s behaviour, to find meaning in what children do and experience. The purpose of our documentation is also:
- A way to value your children’s experiences, and help them reflect back on those experiences and what they have been learning.
- An opportunity to make your children’s learning and understanding of the world visible – to themselves, to other children, to their parents and other families, and to the program staff.
- A way to reflect on developmental growth over a period of time.
- A process for program staff to co-plan with children about learning.
- A dialogue with families about children’s experiences, and an invitation for parents to add their own documentation about their children’s learning.
- An opportunity for self-reflection for program staff, as they participate in continuous professional learning.