What to expect during a morning in our Nursery School
Belvoir’s Nursery School program uses the document, “How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years (2014),” foundation principles -- belonging, well-being, engagement and expression -- to guide the curriculum.
Belvoir’s Nursery School program starts with creating a safe environment, both physically and emotionally, for children to learn. Through positive response to student’s cues and engaging in authentic conversation about their thoughts, interests and feelings, student’s build a sense of connection with their educators. Laying the foundation of confidence in the student to feel safe to play, investigate, inquire, ask questions, and openly explore all elements of the program.
The program runs five mornings a week from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Each morning begins with outdoor play (weather dependent), where student’s socialize through play. Students are provided the opportunities for movement, and development of fine and gross motor skills, for example solving puzzles, blowing bubbles, bike riding, sports activities and playing in the sandbox. Through outdoor play, community walks, and field trips the program strives to develop the student’s natural curiosity, build a sense of belongingness and create a connection to the world around them.
Belvoir’s programming emphasizes elements of Vygotsky's “Zones of Proximal Development, ” by ensuring effective scaffolding for all students to grow their independence. Students are provided the opportunity to participate in the program at their own pace, with support to increase independence when needed. Each day many students participate in open Group Time, which starts with the monthly calendar. During calendar time, the educator engages them in a discussion about the current weather, and identifying the day of the week and date. Students are encouraged to participate during Group Time, and when needed Assistants are available to model proper communication, and support self-regulation (e.g. sitting on one’s mat, raising hand, taking turns). Exploring literacy is a large component of Group Time programming, where through song and cooperative activities, students develop rhyme and phoneme awareness. Through independent and shared reading, students are engaged in conversation, based on the students comfort level either as a whole class or individually, and encouraged to make connections from the text to themselves, to each other, and the world around them. The final element of the Group Time programming is Show and Share. Each week, students are selected to participate in Show and Share, with the focus on oral development and communication, by facilitating a dialogue that allows one to communicate their thoughts and stories, while encouraging their peers to listen and ask questions.
Belvoir provides a nutritious snack for each of the students, adhering to any food allergies. This is a time when students engage in a positive eating environment, focused on nutritious snacks and beverages that follows the Canadian Food Guide. Educator and Assistants encourage students to use proper etiquette and manners while eating, but also encourage independence and cooperation through self-serving, passing of the snack to their peers and clearing their plates/cups. As well, students are provided the time to engage in conversation, with prompts from the educator, creating an opportunity to further make personal connections with one another. Following snack time, students are provided with a large period of time to explore and play.
Belvoir’s curriculum places an emphasis on indoor play, and provides a variety of activities and materials to support the student’s natural curiosity, that engages their bodies, minds and senses. Students are encouraged to asked questions, make inquiries and test theories through participation in the science and building centres, bring personal experiences into their play as they enjoy the housing and baby care centres, creatively express themselves in the drama centre, create musical performances either instrumental or through movement, show their artistic expression through creatives and painting, or take some calming/relaxation time in the sensory quiet centre. Belvoir recognizes the importance that play has in developing student’s physical, emotional and mental well-being, and strives to provide a positive space to practice self-regulation.
An important aspect of all programming at Belvoir is supporting student’s development of positive social interaction and recognizing the different capabilities of their peers. Throughout all play and interaction at Belvoir, student’s build social competence as they are encouraged to recognize the differences, needs and feelings of their peers. Through modelling, students are taught the importance of communicating, collaborating and respecting the feelings and thoughts of one another.