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How Does Learning Happen?

Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years (HDLH), and Seneca College ECE Lab School


The Seneca ECE Lab School is committed to quality care for the early years. In this, we have a consistent pedagogical approach that resembles that of the Ontario’s Vision for quality in the Early Years. The HDLH guide introduced in 2014 builds on recent government initiatives and a policy framework (Ministry of Education, 2014). For more information please see the Ministry’s website at .  Building on the ELECT this guide is set around four foundations of learning to support educators in building a shared vision for education in the early years. These foundations are Belonging, Well-being, Engagement and Expression are centered on the child and his/her relationships to family, educators and the environment. Educators at Seneca College ECE Lab School have a shared vision of these foundations and in the renewed image of the child, educator and family. In this we are partners in children’s learning, sharing and respecting the valid role each plays in this process. The foundations outlined in the HDLH guide are embedded and intertwined throughout our beliefs, values and philosophies of teaching as demonstrated in the classrooms, pedagogy and daily interactions.

The following section outlines how the Seneca College ECE Lab School is committed daily to meeting Ontario’s vision for the Early Years through a pedagogy based on the image of the child, family and educator as competent, the environment as a third teacher and the on-going process of collaborative reflective practice highly situated in the process of pedagogical documentation.

Program Statement

 Seneca ECE Lab School is committed to quality child care and together with the HDLH document aim to create optimal learning experiences for all. The guide as is the ELECT is used as a resource to support educators in exploring and re-examining beliefs and approaches to teaching and learning. The Seneca ECE Lab School has explored a variety of pedagogical approaches to the field of Early Learning over the last several decades. It has been committed to professional learning, reflective practice and building a shared community where all are free to pursue interests and their own developmental goals.

View of the Child: The Seneca ECE Lab School believes that children are strong, capable and competent. The program, environments and expectations of children reflect these views and are embedded throughout the curriculum, daily routines and flexibility in daily schedules. Here, children are provided with choices within the curriculum, the environment, and are encouraged to exercise autonomy and decision making throughout. Children are presented with real and appropriate challenging opportunities both indoors and in the extended outdoor program. Children are active members of the classroom and encouraged to contribute in meaningful ways such as assisting in setting the lunch tables, planting, watering, and harvesting from the gardens. We believe these together contribute to educators reflecting the view of the capable child and this assists children
in developing a positive self-image of oneself, as a strong capable child.

Promotion of Health, Safety, Nutrition and Well-Being: The Seneca ECE Lab School is committed to supporting the health, well-being and safety of all. Daily opportunities are provided that support children in developing, self-help, self-care and self-regulation skills. Building on our view of the competent child, children are encouraged daily to take interest in self-care such as feeding, clothing and toileting needs with the support of an adult. This encourages children’s developing sense of self, autonomy and supports emerging skills. The environment both indoors and outdoors offers children safe, yet reasonably challenging opportunities to assess risks and challenges as per their emerging capabilities. Children are viewed as active members of the classrooms contributing to the environment, clean-up and maintenance of outdoor gardens. Children exercise choice in healthy meals offered. An open snack and family style lunch encourages children to listen to their unique rhythms and determine time and quantity for snack and lunch offerings.

Responsive, Supportive Interactions and Relationships: The Seneca College ECE Lab School is committed to building, facilitating and encouraging healthy, positive and responsive relationships within our community. This includes children, staff, families, student teachers, faculty, outside agencies and professional communities of practice. We believe that these relationship begin with respect and communication. Each person at the lab school is valued and considered part of the community. Educators commit to developing a relationship with each child and to understand each child’s unique way of expressing, communicating and learning. We value and actively take part in building relationships through ongoing communication, professional and family learning opportunities as each person is valued in contributing to this learning. Our community is strengthened with opportunities to connect socially through family engagement experiences such as quarterly events planned to build relationships as a centre and through each of the classrooms. It is our hope that the Seneca College Lab School is a place of belonging, and that relationships can be formed throughout. In addition, we take a role in connecting to the local community and around the College. We are involved in fundraising and outreach programs organized within our community.

Expression and Communication: The ECE Lab School recognizes that each child is unique and has a variety of ways to express themselves. Educators commit to supporting children in communicating and expressing themselves in positive ways. Educator’s assist, support and scaffold children’s developing self-regulation skills while promoting problem solving and assistance with solutions that are respectful of all. Building on the hundred languages of children, the lab school believes in providing children opportunities to build knowledge in their own ways, but also supports children in expression of this.

Recognizing, honoring and respecting children’s way of expression is demonstrated in the choices offered in the rich environments. In this, children are active in building, constructing and expressing learning in multiple ways to be heard through music, art, dance, writing, problem solving etc. The Lab school recognizes this and supports children in this expression in all forms.