Our daily routine
Children are welcomed at our door with a smile and a French greeting! We then have 4 main activities per day in our program:
- free play
- circle time/gym
Our routine is flexible and accommodates the immediate needs of the children. For example, circle time and music can happen on our way to a washroom break and we may stop at the gym for physical activities on our way back!
A fun, flexible, child-centered approach to learning
With stimulating and fun activities, the children have many opportunities each day to explore materials, equipment and toys and use them in any creative way they wish, providing that what they do is safe and reasonable within the setting.
Upon arrival, the children then go to the areas of their choice for about one hour of free play in morning. During this time, the teacher observes and interacts in the building relationships with each child as individuals.
Observing children at playtime, and writing down what they say or do, is useful information to assist the children with learning and development. It also helps inform how we set up the play space, equipment and activities. Building on the children’s play keeps them interested and stimulated in learning and they tend to learn many skills. For example, in the housekeeping center they learn to communicate and negotiate by dressing up with each other!
The classroom is arranged so that all the children can move freely and make choices based on their individual age, interests, abilities and needs. The play space is organized with much flexibility, giving children opportunities to explore areas with ideas of their own. When we set up the room with a theme in mind, it is often magically rearranged during playtime with the children’s ideas and interests of the moment and is sometimes surprisingly fitting for that theme.
Because we have a small ratio of children to teachers, individual attention is possible for each child. Listening to children’s conversations does give us creative ideas that benefit the group. For example, a roomy closet in the classroom is used now for walk-in activities. This idea came from the children following circle-time sharing at Halloween, when some children wanted lights out and some did not. Thus the closet with the squeaky door was transformed into a gallery of spooky things—a nice option to peek into from the comfort of the lighted classroom for those children afraid of the dark.
In the following weeks, we had a doctor’s office in the closet, a quiet closet mini-library and even a closet art gallery with beautiful small size paintings for children to view two-by-two. Some children of this age are not always comfortable being physically close to others and this quiet, cozy area somehow seems to make it easier to build up some comfort in being close to each other.
Children in our program are also exposed to similarities and differences through play, such as:
- dolls of different gender
- play foods (traditional and typical foods)
- clothes of various cultures
- songs from around the world (for example, we may learn to sing Frère Jacques in French, but we also sing it in six other languages.)
In addition, we support the children when they require additional help by observing them to find out their individual interests, abilities and needs. This may include intentionally including children in small group interactions when a child needs that social support and encouragement.
Communication with parents
Morning arrivals are great opportunities for good conversations between teachers, parents and children: we find talking with parents about their child’s learning and development seems easier at this time versus the end of class, when children are tired and want to go home.
We find many ways to talk to parents on a one-to-one basis: they are invited to come and volunteer in the classroom, join us on field trips and other special occasions such as Christmas, birthdays and more. For example, when we do our theme on community workers, parents are invited to come to circle time and speak about their work, or they can send an object, photo or even a drawing done at home with the child about the kind of work they do.
Teachers and parents also communicate often by e-mail for information such as our monthly calendar of activities, field trips and Board of Director meeting minutes.
Children’s artwork is saved in a personal file and given to the child and their family at the end of the school year.
A gentle introduction to French
Throughout the morning, our staff take every opportunity to stimulate the children’s communication skills by having interesting and open conversations with them, in French and English. We give the children a gentle introduction to the French language through words, songs and stories. Each day, we try to go on a French word walk: children are encouraged and stimulated to articulate and repeat French words.
We also practice making eye contact and continual facial expressions together to develop their non-verbal communication skills.
While learning about the French language, we also learn about the French culture and participate in local, cultural events (especially in wintertime, such as Festival du Voyageur).