Marathon Children and Family Centre takes great pride in following the Reggio Emilia Principles. We firmly believe that every child is a competent and capable individual. Our team strives to help each child reach their fullest potential through building play experiences based upon the interests of the children. We have broken down our values, goals and promises into sections in order to ensure such ideas and guarantees are clear and easier to understand.
Image of the Child
The Marathon Children and Family Centre is an early learning program inspired and guided by the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. Educators promote the growth and development of each child in a safe, positive, and rich learning environment. Children are viewed as competent, curious, full of knowledge, and interested in connecting with the world around them. Each child is unique, and our goal is to help children from infancy to thirteen years of age reach their fullest potential.
The Power of Documentation
The Reggio Emilia Approach to learning includes completing daily observations that are instrumental to the planning of play experiences for the children. Educators are deeply aware of the children’s potential and construct all of their work and environmental observations of the children’s experiences to respond appropriately. Educators meet weekly to deconstruct these observations following an agenda, and they work together to plan the setup of the environment and plan activities for provocation based around their hypothesis of the learning that is happening with the children. The children’s thoughts and the progression of their thinking are made visible through displays and documentation boards that can be viewed daily by families and caregivers. This documentation draws parents and educators deeper into the experiences of the children and equally important, shows the children that their work is valued.
Collaboration and Interaction
Early learning does not happen in isolation but rather is a result of experiences with others. Collaboration and cooperation are intentional in our program and the entire system is designed to be alive, connected and in relationship. Children, educators and parents join to provide opportunities to help develop the children’s natural curiosity, initiative and independence. Parents are invited to share ideas and resources as well as discussions about their child and are viewed as partners in the process. We welcome parents upon arrival, discuss their child’s day and add their ideas to the programming, portfolios and documentation. Parents are also welcomed and encouraged to visit their children anytime during the day.
Daily observations help the educators set up the environment based on the children’s interests, skills and learning styles. The environment is considered the third teacher and the children can then engage in it with interest, challenge and enjoyment. Everything in the children’s day is based on them: they have autonomy, are an active participant in their learning and are seen as having rights. The educator is there as a co-learner, scaffolder and role model.
The Hundred Languages of Children
The infinite number of ways that children can express, explore and connect with their thoughts, feelings and imaginings is known as the 100 languages of children. Educators provide a rich environment with a wide variety of open-ended materials that the children can investigate and use the space, materials and equipment in their own way. Children are also encouraged to make symbolic representations of their ideas through visual arts, music and manipulative toys.
Helping Children to Develop Self-Regulation
The environment is a living, changing system based on listening and responding to the needs of the children in the space. Therefore, the daily schedules involve providing purposeful opportunities for the children to develop self-regulation. This includes indoor/outdoor play, active play, rest and quiet times. Children have a need to be active whether it be indoors or out, and educators ensure that these times are an extension of their learning with plenty of opportunities for creativity, discovery and mastery of skills. Children also have a need for quiet times and children who sleep have a space with a comfortable cot and soothing music in a dimly lit room; children who do not sleep are provided with quiet activities in a calm environment that extend on their interests, skills and creativity. Educators read the cues of the children, follow their lead and provide the appropriate opportunity or need that builds responsive and respectful relationships.
Health, Safety and Nutrition Requirements
Marathon Children and Family Centre promotes health and safety, and nutrition requirements recommended by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the Child Care and Early Years Act. All staff members are required to follow all policies and procedures based around illness, cleaning and safety concerns. Children are provided with healthy food choices and beverages throughout the day and the Housekeeper provides a menu that follows Canada’s Food Guide that is reviewed regularly by the Health Unit.
Developmentally Appropriate Expectations
Educators help guide children’s behaviour with developmentally appropriate expectations. Care and education that is developmentally appropriate responds to the age, developmental level and uniqueness of each child. The goal is to help children develop self-regulation through role modelling and scaffolding1, and build their skills by providing increasingly challenging opportunities appropriate to their age. Educators use positive guidance techniques that are adapted to the actions and ages of the children and they review daily the Community Agreements of respect, listening and appreciation of one another with the children. The focus is on individual appropriateness, which refers to the uniqueness of each child growing at his or her own pattern and timing, as well as individual personality, learning style, culture and family background experiences.
Involvement of the Community
“It takes a village to raise a child”, and we welcome and incorporate all community partners involved in our organization to be a part of our centre. Every single person that comes in contact with a child will have some degree of influence on them. Part of incorporating our community involves inviting people in from the community to share job skills, visiting public spaces such as parks and stores and involving students from Confederation College enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program. Our centre’s location in Margaret Twomey Public School helps the children to make connections with the staff and students of the school and makes for a seamless transition to kindergarten and grade school when the time comes.
Professional development is an important and ongoing process that helps educators to share, network and remain current in the field of early childhood education. It is an integral part of providing quality early learning and care. Educators attend annual workshops that are held outside of the community and participate in workshops that are led by professional facilitators who come to our centre.
Evaluation of our Programs
Program development is also important to quality education. We evaluate our programs annually to ensure that we are meeting the expectations of our children and parents (relying on input including parent questionnaires), and meeting the requirements of the Ministry of Education and our local DSSAB. Program development is described in the professional learning resource, “How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years”.