Fostering Children’s Exploration, Play and Inquiry
The Seneca ECE Lab School has always held a strong belief in the value of play, inquiry and children’s active explorations. We support children in their natural desire to learn through rich inviting and stimulating environments. We value child initiated curriculum that has inquiry at its core. The classrooms (indoors and outdoors) are designed to meet children’s current interests and build on their developmental skills, considering the application of various developmental domains and goals. Our curriculum focus is emergent as it respects children’s interests as these act as a provocation and extension to future learning. Educator’s respond to children’s interest and developmental needs through careful observation, documentation and a carefully designed environment that promotes inquiry.
The Seneca College ECE Lab School environment both indoors and outside are set to provide stimulating engaging child initiated choices. Building on observed children’s interest and educator knowledge on child development, the environment are designed with thoughtful provocations and invitations for learnings. The classrooms include various learning areas that address children’s multiple ways of constructing, building and expressing understandings. Adult’s support children’s learning in creating inviting, attractive and aesthetic environment that honor and respect the process of learning. Educators assist, support, and are co-learners with children in making discoveries and in supporting future explorations. We honor each child’s process of learning and the many languages that children come to know, understand, construct and express their understanding. Our curriculum is child-centered with nature at its core where classrooms are viewed as an important and valid third teacher. Learning is situated in social constructivism, where we build knowledge together through active hands-on explorations.
Children have opportunity to exercise choice in a carefully planned day that is flexible and responsive to their needs. These include opportunities for active and quiet considerations and both large and small group experiences. Inquiry based learning is built in the indoor and outdoor classroom with extensive and additional learning environments offered throughout the lab school. These are seen in our natural outdoor environments and our multiple learning laboratories such as the messing about with science lab, water and sensory lab. These are set and offered as valuable extensions to the already rich and diverse opportunities offered in the classrooms. We are committed to support children in building a relationship with the natural world, as our classrooms, curriculum and environments provide daily encounters with nature and natural phenomenon.
On-Going Communication- Pedagogical Documentation
Seneca College ECE Lab School is committed to foster warm on-going reciprocal communication with children, families and our community. Accounts of each child’s day, learning and development is shared through personal, detailed information through dialogue, written personal logs, social events for families, and through the process of documentation.
The educators value the process of pedagogical documentation as these are created to support children’s learning, the teacher’s understanding of this learning and to make visible the learning to children, families and the community. Documentation panels, displays and individual journeys of learning in books created are seen as opportunities to revisit learning, celebrate children’s work and accomplishments and act as a guide to support future curriculum and responsive programming. All visitors, and those part of our community are invited to add to and support this process. Families and children are encouraged to add meaningful accounts so a shared and inclusive voice is given to all in the creation and understandings of the documentation.
Families are always welcomed to share, ask questions or voice concerns pertaining to their child, curriculum and how to better meet their children’s needs. Working together and with the possibility of outside agencies can be discussed and solutions found were all needs are met in respectful and agreeable ways.
Local Community Partners
Seneca College ECE Lab School has on staff; highly trained in-house specialists in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, Language and Literacy, and Resource Education. At times it is necessary to seek outside support in assisting the educator in better meeting children and family needs. Seneca College ECE Lab School is further committed to supporting children’s individual needs through outside agencies/community partners if warranted. These agencies include but are not limited to our ECE students, Fire Protection Department, First Peoples, Toronto Speech and Language, Ontario Early Years Centres, Community Living Toronto, Adventure Place to name a few.
Working collaboratively with personal individual program plans (IPP) and learning goals and outcomes can be created with the voice of families, educators, community support systems and when appropriate the child. These IPP’s will be reviewed and developed with families and adjusted as deemed necessary. These IPP’s serve to support the child in various developmental areas as well as to support them in a successful and meaningful experiences daily within the Lab School.
Seneca College ECE Lab School supports, values and appreciates the continuous learning of the staff. Staff are provided with opportunities to attend workshops, updated and trained on curriculum and policy changes as this yields personal growth, greater job satisfaction, and higher quality programming. Also, staff are committed to ongoing collaborative and individual professional learning. In addition, the staff are observed and evaluated regularly, and annually receive a formal evaluation of their delivery strengths and needs in which new goals are set.
The Lab School encourages educators to seek and value the process of lifelong learning and take initiative in supporting learning of self and others. Professional development opportunities are afforded based on personal interest and the ongoing needs of the Lab School. Educators are seen as professional leaders in the field, and share their vast knowledge in hosting and presenting various workshops and conferences as well as in-house tours.
In addition, the Lab School is committed to establishing communities of practice both online and locally to further promote growth, learning and a sense of community within our field.
"Our task, regarding creativity, is to help children climb their own mountains, as high as possible. No one can do more."