She has an amazing team of pharmacists that inspire her every day. She gushes that they are so incredibly caring and are always coming up with ways they can support the ideas that Hope’s Home may have. Michele states that “good enough is never good enough.” They are consistently working to go above and beyond, making a difference any way they can. She reminds us that you can get bogged down in the day to day, so every now and then it’s important to stop and remember what we do and how important it is. She reminds her crew every day that they have the gift of doing what many people will never do and how truly special that gift is.
Child Initiated Play is part of our daily routine at daycare.
Hope’s Home encourages the use of imagination and creativity. That is why our environments are set up to be open-ended activities so that the children have the freedom to explore and do as they please. Our Early Childhood Educators are amazing at coming up with new and creative ways to let the children explore their own interests and curiosity, and we love sharing those child initiated play and project approach ideas. We are huge advocates for the Reggio Emilia model and want to help other Early Childhood Educators by providing them with inspiration.
So, what exactly is child initiated play?
According to Early Years Careers, it supports children in having ideas and being in control of their learning. It enables them to learn through first-hand experiences, allowing them to choose how to use the resources to do so.
Magnetic Fishing Activity
In this example of child initiated play, these two girls have gone fishing. Out of all of the toys in the room they chose the fishing poles and magnetic letters and fish. Each has a pole dangling a magnet above the letters. Several seconds and no fish have been caught. So they take turns hooking a fish or letter onto the end of the other’s line.
What are they learning through this activity?
- They are learning muscle control as they hold and guide the fishing rods and try to match the magnet on the end to a letter or fish. Picking up the items with their fingers requires fine motor control.
- They are learning letter recognition and pre-reading skills. Being introduced to letters in multiple formats throughout the day and giving the children a chance to experience them in many different ways, helps children practice what they’ve learned during Circle Times.
- They are learning to cooperate and work together. Social skills are practiced through taking turns, helping each other, and talking out what they are doing. Allowing children to play in pairs or smaller groups provides opportunities for children to build relationships with each other.
Turning play into a learning opportunity.
Activities like this can bring out questions and curiosities, leading to projects and deeper learning opportunities. For example, if the children are showing interest in the letters, pointing out what letter their name starts with could lead to talking about all of the letters in their name; and eventually into an interest in spelling and writing. Or the children could observe how the magnet picks up the letter by “sticking” to it. They may try to stick the magnet to other toys and surfaces in the room, exploring the properties of a magnet.
We love sharing our ideas just as much as we love hearing new ideas.
Do you have any fun and unique early childhood education ideas? Make sure you leave a comment down below! Childhood development is such an important part of their life and by sharing ideas we can improve our skills as ECEs to help our kids.
Creating an integrated and inclusive daycare environment through play and exploration.
When you walk into Hope’s Home, it will at first look like every other daycare in the city. There will be kids laughing and playing, Early Childhood Educators reading stories, a Nutrition Specialist cooking up a healthy lunch, and of course the loud noises of a childcare centre. But then you will look a little closer and notice some things that are a bit different. There is a cozy, quiet little room filled with sensory items, a ceiling track lift running throughout the daycare, a nurse providing medical care to a little kiddo with a feeding tube, and a Physical Development Consultant helping another kiddo into their standing frame.
The kids who attend our Early Learning & Childcare centres grow up seeing these things everyday; so to them, it’s just another day at daycare. But sometimes, curiosity gets the best of them (as it should) and they have a million questions. Last week was one of those times where they were extra curious about the different types of equipment their friends use and what exactly it all does; and our staff jumped at this chance to help them better understand.
Our amazing staff created hands on opportunities for the kids to try the equipment out for themselves. The kiddos were able to sit in Activity Chairs and take a ride on the Ceiling Track Lift. This showed them how the different equipment helps their friends be able to play and explore just like they do.
They learned that a wheelchair is just another way to move around, just like walking! And they learned that a ceiling track lift is just another way to get to the bathroom, just like getting a piggyback ride! They realize that all of these things that may seem different or unusual to them, are actually just ways for their friends to be able to do all the things that they do!
Not only is it our goal to create a safe place for children with complex medical or developmental needs, but we also want it to be a place where typically developing children grow up to be compassionate ally’s to their friends with disabilities. Encouraging curiosity, answering questions, and demonstrating differences, is big part of how we achieve our goal everyday. Activities like this help to to normalize the differences between the typically developing kids and the children who experience a disability. This is how we truly create an inclusive and integrated childcare experience.
That’s why there is no place like Hope.
For half her life, Callie’s weekly routine has consisted of a round of chemo.
The reality of Hope’s Home is sometimes things don’t always go the way we would like them too. There are times when we are crying by hospital beds, being a pillar of support for a family going through a tough time, and saying our last “I love you’s” to a kiddo who has been with us since they were a baby. So when that can be our reality, we have to make sure we take advantage of all the small and large victories that happen too. And Callie finishing off her 70th round of chemo was one of those things we had to go all out for.
At 10 months old, Callie had complications which made her unable to eat food; and she has since been exclusively tube fed ever since. And it was just a short 5 months later that Callie received the news that the doctors found a tumor in her brain. And although the tumor was not cancerous, it didn’t mean there wasn’t a long road ahead for her. A week after they found it, Callie underwent brain surgery, but the surgeons weren’t able to remove all of it. So they moved on to the next option, which would end up being 70 rounds of chemo in 70 weeks.
Callie has had quite the journey in her little life; and although it’s been hard, she’s also had some victories. In December 2019, Callie finally began eating food!! At daycare, Callie’s friends were encouraging for her, and slowly but surely she began trying a couple bites here and there. Callie has now tried so many different foods she even has a couple favourites. This was a huge milestone for Callie and her family because it meant she was one step closer to no longer being tube-fed.
On Tuesday, the day after Callie’s last round of chemo, our staff and kiddos went all out for a chemo-free celebration party. They decorated the centre, had a dance party, played with balloons (a crowd favourite), and had a snack of some of Callie’s favourite: cheezies and popcorn twists. (She likes cheezies so much her mom calls her the “Cheezy Queen”)
We were so excited to throw this party for Callie. She is the sweetest, strongest little girl. Having her at Hope’s Home has been such a blessing and knowing that she will be coming to daycare tumor free from now on brings all of us so much joy. We love you Callie.
That’s why there is no place like Hope.