What Is Ontario Early Years?

Header-image-JessicaBy Jessica Faught

(WINDSOR, ON) – Do you really know all the benefits of the Ontario Early Years program? Their free program is funded by the Ministry of Education, and is staffed with Registered Early Childhood Educators. Parents, caregivers and other professionals can access early year’s information and links to partners and resources within our community.

But more importantly, Ontario Early Years Centres are a place where parents, caregivers, and children, aged 0 to 6 years, can play and learn together.

OEY promotes learning through early literacy and early play experiences. Parents and caregivers are a child’s BEST teacher! The staff members at Ontario Early Years centres promote interactive parent-child learning. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to be on the floor or at the learning centres fully engaging in imaginative play, creative fun or whatever else may interest your child.

OEYC publish monthly newsletters that are site specific, every month different activities, events, field trips, and guest speakers are planned, depending on the needs and interest of the families that attend each site. When you go to an OEYC some of the basic things you may see throughout the morning program are playtime, creative experiences, a variety of age appropriate toys, materials and activities, as well as circle time and a nutritious snack.

The first five years of a child’s life are referred to as the formative years, in what ways does the program help parents develop their child’s academic and social skills during this important process?

The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important. They are the foundation that shapes children’s future health, happiness, growth, development and learning achievement at school, in the family and community, and in life in general. Research shows us that the first five years are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child’s brain. Children learn more quickly during their early years than at any other time in life.

They need love and nurturing to develop a sense of trust and security that turns into confidence as they grow. When you visit an OEYC you will see a wide range of activities for you to engage in with your child, from the basics like math, science, literacy but also creative experiences and activities that help foster healthy social emotional skills and concrete life skills.

All children are naturally strong, capable learners worthy of our trust and support. We look to each child to help guide us in their learning. We value and respect children and believe that their theories and ideas are an important source of curriculum. Because of these beliefs, all City of Windsor Ontario Early Years have adopted an “Emergent Curriculum” approach to learning. We believe this approach is the most developmentally appropriate and is most consistent with our understanding of how children learn.

“What is emergent curriculum?” Emergent Curriculum quite simply means to plan activities based on children’s current interests. Children learn about themselves and the world around them through investigation and discovery, and through art, dramatic play, and social interactions. Important areas such as literacy and numeracy development are introduced and woven through all activities.

After interviewing many parents, there seemed to be some common feedback. Many feel, by attending an Early Years centre with their children on a regular basis, it helps to set schedules, such as a baby or toddler who may be having trouble with taking naps after a full morning of educational play, a nice nutritious snack, and interactive and educational circle time. Their little bodies are tired and ready for some shut down time, before or after lunch, which gives their daytime caregiver a chance to rest or complete household or job related duties themselves.

For older toddlers, parents say that the routine and structure, prior to them entering the kindergarten program, is very beneficial.

Appropriate professionals are provided to the caregivers for questions and answers and voluntary assessments, in cases where there are concerns stemming from milestone development to how to handle a picky eater. Parents’ concerns can be validated or put at ease because Early Years facilitates such help.

Affordable field trips have been added to the program, as well, providing extra bonding time with parent/caregiver and child, or just a time to create some new memories.

Have you tried Ontario Early Years yet?

To learn more go online.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.
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