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.
Women in Business – Advice from our CEO
Being a woman in business, even in 2021. can still be a challenge. So each year our society fights to make progress over gender disparities and skepticism, and each year we get closer to the goal of eliminating those biases and inequalities. There are many stories of success and victory for female leadership – Kamala Harris being elected the first ever Vice-President of the United States, Whitney Wolfe becoming the first female CEO to take a company public, to stories in our own backyard: Jennifer Denouden being a leader for Canadian CEO’s to Jacqueline Tisher, who has built a legacy for children in Saskatchewan.
As a successful, provincial wide non-profit, we are proud to be led by an inspiring, passionate, and hardworking CEO who is choosing to challenge those biases every day. Not only did Jacqueline build Hope’s Home from the ground up, she also built it without any framework. Since Hope’s Home is the first ever medically integrated daycare in Canada, there was no blueprint for how to do it. With a team of equally as driven and passionate females – they filled a gap in our community that has helped change and improve the lives of countless families.
So today, on International Women’s Day, we sat down with Jacque and asked her about her journey as a business woman. We ask her about her victories and her setbacks, and her advice for every young female entrepreneur out there.
Did you have any fears in the early stages of Hope’s Home? How did you overcome them?
Facing your fears is a part of taking risks. Hope’s Home was the first of its kind. There was so much to learn and research to do, to figure what was the best way to support families of children with complex medical needs. Taking this risk meant leaving a secure job at the hospital, which I loved so much! Starting a new business meant facing my fear of losing job security, financial security, and professional security as a nurse. It meant rising above that fear and embracing my burning passion for children with diverse needs. Passion is empowering. Passion creates dreams and smashes fear. Passion gives you the freedom to take risks that will make a difference in the world. Yes, it has been scary at times, but Hope’s Home is worth it!
Did anyone ever doubt you as a female CEO and your ability to run a provincial wide organization? If so, how did you deal with that?
If anyone doubted me as a female CEO – I did not hear it or listen to it. I believe my passion for advocating for these children, my business mind, and my ability to build strong relationships has made my role as CEO successful. I surround myself with mentors and strong leaders – from my mom, who is my hero and an incredible leader/businesswoman, to other business leaders, entrepreneurs, coaches, and professionals – who I lean on for advice, support, and guidance. Great leaders have a circle of support who strengthen their weaknesses, provide transparent and honest feedback, and build each other up to be the very best in life.
What were the biggest lessons you learned while running and growing Hope’s Home?
Oh, so many Lessons! When I think of the lessons I have learned in the last 16 years, I hear these quotes in my head:
- Policy doesn’t change the world…passion changes the world.
- Walk before you run.
- It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to beg for permission.
- People leave managers, not organizations.
- Your values determine your actions.
- Our children are our future – they are worth it!
- Listen to your heart.
- People first.
- Life is too short to be bitter…make the world better.
- Life is fragile. Make memories. Enjoy the journey.
- What mark are you making in the world?
Hope’s Home is about people. It is about our children, family, and our staff. Every decision we make as an organization needs to keep our children in the center. This is who we are and why we do what we do.
Do you have any advice for young women? Aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Dream big. Discover what your passion is. What keeps you awake at night? What makes you excited? What gives you purpose? I would encourage young women and aspiring entrepreneurs to ask yourself these questions to set your sight on the goal. It will mean you will have to face your fears and take a risk. It means you may fail. These are the greatest lessons! Never give up or be scared to challenge the norm to follow your dream. As I told my daughter Acacia who lived her life from a wheelchair – focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do. It is important to be an ever-learner. Seek knowledge and wisdom in those that have journeyed ahead of you. Love yourself first and live out of this place of strength and purpose.
This years theme for International Women’s Day is “#ChoosetoChallenge gender bias and inequality.” What does that statement mean to you?
I believe each human is unique, born with special gifts, talents, and abilities. Discover those gifts that make you special and those around you unique. Treat each other with respect, kindness, and love. Challenge injustice, prejudice, and care for the people of our world. Embrace and celebrate our differences – this is what makes humanity so incredible.
Feeling inspired on International Women’s Day this year.
Today makes you feel inspired about the future and reflect on all the amazing women who have pathed the way for future generations. Jacqueline Tisher has certainly made a difference to all the young women she has met and the people who have heard her story. Which women have made an impact on your life? Tell us about them in the comments! And don’t forget to share your own #ChoosetoChallenge story. Happy International Women’s Day!
Each year we take a moment to recognize the strength and determination in the kids we care for across the province.
Each location nominates children in their room that they think are deserving of the Child of the Year title. Staff choose children who have overcome barriers, hardships, shown determination to accomplish their goals, etc. The staff then vote on the nominated children in their location.
This year Hope’s Home had some absolutely inspiring children win Child of the Year. And although we would love to brag about each and every child, there are privacy restrictions we have to respect.
Brody was one of the winners of Child of the Year 2020. Coming to daycare was a hard adjustment for Brody when he first started last fall. The loud noises and busy kids were too much and overstimulating. With it being his first time at daycare and his first time trusting people other than this family, it was a huge learning curve to figure out the right strategies and approaches that would be best for him.
Over time and through trial and error, our staff worked together and found the best ways to communicate with him and integrate him into the classroom.
Today, Brody enjoys music and floor time, can sit through the craziness of a toddler classroom, and is no longer scared of the physical touch of his aunties and uncles. He’s overcome so much since he started in our care, and we are so proud of him and everything he has accomplished.
We are also incredibly grateful for our hardworking staff members who went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure Brody enjoyed his time at Hope’s Home.
Congratulations Brody, we love you.
Incorporating therapies into our day-to-day activities at daycare is one of things that makes Hope’s Home so special.
Children with complex medical or developmental needs often have various therapies they need to do everyday to promote healthy development. In order to provide high quality, inclusive care – we staff Physical Development Consultants to help children with their therapies in a way that doesn’t segregate them from the rest of the children.
To learn more about this, our wonderful Physical Development Consultant, April, explains more about it.
What exactly is a Physical Development Consultant at Hope’s Home?
As a Physical Development Consultant (“PDC”), I work closely with the Developmental Workers. My daily goal is to make sure that our children with complex medical needs and developmental delays are equipped with the programs and plans they need to master new skills and participate fully in activities. Whether with adaptive equipment, a hand over hand assistance, or them building the skills to be able to dance on the floor with their friends, we aspire to give the child the maximum participation and incorporate fun therapies into their daily activities.
I am a Physiotherapist by profession, specializing in pediatrics for most of my career. I have been trained for some Neurodevelopmental Techniques of therapy and recently received a certificate of training for the Cognitive Orientation Approach for Individuals with Motor Difficulties.
A closer look at therapies.
The programs and goals we set to support the achievement of the child’s developmental milestones are in continuance to the goals of the parents and all the supporting professionals that are involved in the child’s life. The various therapies are decided upon by the specialized professionals and carried out by the PDC at Hope’s Home in an integrated way.
A list of outside professionals we work with:
- Occupational Therapists
- Speech Language Pathologists
- Social Workers
- Other professionals from organizations such as Children’s Rehabilitation Centres, Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECIP), and AIM (“Ability in Me”).
Integrating Therapies to make them fun!
After deciding on goals for the child, we work together as a team to translate them into different activities that are incorporated through play in their day-to-day fun. Ensuring that our staff are trained to adapt materials and help the child regulate emotions; and that tools such as switches to support communication and adapted equipment are accessible, is all an integral part of inclusion for Hope’s Home.
All of the therapies also occur in their classroom to allow other children to play along. This gives us more opportunity to educate and create that loving, caring, and helping relationship between typically developing children and children with complex medical or developmental needs.
For example, when a child is in a standing frame they can happily do pretend play in the kitchen with friends. So even though standing for certain periods of time is considered part of their therapy, they are enjoying their time and therefore the therapy is incorporated in play.
A favorite memory was seeing a child in a walker playing eagerly with friends in the backyard. With just amount of challenge and support, he was able to let go of the walker and did his independent steps to catch his friends. And when you see a proud grin and friends proudly celebrating, you just know Hope’s Home made it happen.
Our Physical Development Consultants are an un-funded position at Hope’s Home. If you wish to help us out and ensure that our children are getting the best care possible by having a PDC on staff, please visit our donate page.
That’s why there is no place like Hope
Implementing early childhood development activities is so important for our kiddos.
This month, some of our lovely Early Childhood Educators created a project based on sharing, turn taking, and how to be kind to your friends. Keep reading to hear all about it!
We started this kindness project by talking to the kids about emotions and what they can do to make their friends happy – using a thumbs up for being kind and a thumbs down for an unkind action. They have started to use this new language throughout their day’s interactions – it has been great to see!
We have seen incredible growth from this Kindness Project such as:
- The kids helping each other get shoes on and off when we are going outside
- Coming to an adult to tell us when they shared a toy with a classmate
- The kiddos are asking their friends for a turn instead of the adults always intervening in situations
- They are learning to negotiate for a turn with the toy in a friendly way
Some activities that have helped reinforce these kindness behaviors:
1. The Sharing Tree.
This is a tree the kids painted and put in the hall. We add hearts to it when they do kind things both at home and at daycare. The entire centre is taking part in this – it’s great! It encourages the kids to keep kindness in the forefront of their mind because they enjoy the reward of putting on a new leaf and watching the tree grow!
2. Partner Painting.
Partner painting is where the kids are put into pairs to paint a picture, but they only have one art tool. This encourages them to use their sharing and negotiation skills to take turns creating their art. This helps build on the skills they are already learning while promoting team work as well.
3. Fill the Bucket.
An activity we haven’t started yet, but plan to, is Fill the Bucket. This will visually demonstrate to the kids how doing nice things will make themselves and others feel better.
That’s why there is no place like Hope.
2020 was a challenging year to say the least. Our organization was hit hard by having to cancel our largest fundraiser of the year and we faced some extra hard goodbyes to two beautiful boys. But we were also blessed with incredible community support and bright and hardworking staff members with a positive attitude.
So let’s take a look back at 2020 and reflect on all the wonderful things that did happen:
1. We started the new year by sharing our completed mini documentary on the Trudel’s and their little boy Thomas. This little boy was a huge inspiration to our organization and his community. If you missed it, click here.
2. Our staff came together to support one another. We created our #WeHaveHope campaign to share all the wonderful things our staff were doing and our community were doing. Including businesses such as the Everyday Kitchen who donated $10,000 to not only us, but many other non-profits in the community!!
5. Our staff remained positive through all the chaos by looking for the silver linings such as:
- Being able to take on new roles and spend time with kids they normally wouldn’t.
- Finding joy in the simple things such as planting gardens, going for walks, and enjoying all the fun that can be had in our own backyard.
- Having time to slow down and appreciate time spent with family.
- The joys of working from home!!
6. Had more time to focus on new endeavors such as creating blog posts, improving our recruitment methods, and saying some extra special thank you’s to the amazing businesses that support us.
7. We managed to still have some outstanding fundraising totals!!
- SWTS Regina. The event didn’t even happen, but because of our incredible supporters, we raised $69,300!
- Prince Albert Golf Tournament: $14,000
- Hope the Hippo: $58,350
- Right before the world shut down, we squeezed in SWTS Prince Albert: $110,000
8.And lastly, we celebrated a huge milestone for our organization – we turned 15!!
We are looking forward 2021 with a positive mindset as we see light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine on its way. We are wishing all the best to everyone in the new year and hope it brings bigger, better, and brighter things.