We provide a home away from home for the children in our care. Our team of dedicated Early Childhood Educators provide a safe, inclusive, healthy, nurturing, learning environment for children and their families. Our Centre cares for children from infancy to twelve years old.
Our Centre is on the traditional land of the Anishinaabe people, those of Fort William First Nations and other nations of the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850. “For the Anishinaabe people, the Nanaboozhoo is an important cultural character. It is a shapeshifting spirit who teaches right from wrong through his adventures while offering lessons on how to live in harmony with the natural world.” This dovetails with our vision of our Centre; where our Educators support children learning how to live in harmony with the world.
Having recently adopted the Reggio-inspired educational philosophy we are committed to providing children in our care with positive learning experiences in order to set the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour, health and well-being. To do so our partnerships with families and communities are critical.
Nanabijou Childcare Centre values frame everything we do at the Centre. Valuing inclusion recognizes that each child and family is unique and so our Centre adapts to every child’s needs. Our Centre, as an extension of the family and home, ensures that every child is safe, has nutritious food, and plays in a healthy and sustainable environment that encourages exploration and enquiry. Relationships and communication between and among children, families, Educators and the environment are based on respect and acceptance and we value the relationship that exists between our Centre and our Lakehead University and Lakehead University Student Union partners. And finally, our professionally trained Early Childhood Educators practice reflection and life-long learning as they provide quality child care.
The City of Thunder Bay is a diverse community, as is the Lakehead University student body, faculty and staff. Our Centre provides childcare in an environment that is inclusive and respectful of the needs of the child and the family. Children play and learn in an environment that not only values but celebrates their differences and contributions. Located on the beautiful grounds of Lakehead University and nestled along the river and amongst the trees, our Centre is committed to being a steward of the land and environment and to teaching the children at our Centre to “live in harmony with the natural world.” The classroom is everywhere.
Nanabijou Childcare Centre has adopted the early learning program inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning. At the centre of Reggio-inspired programming children’s natural development and relationships with each other and their environment are key. Our Educators partner with parents and guardians, involving them in every aspect of the Centre’s operation and we strive to foster family engagement in the Centre through ongoing communication and invitations to participate in the Centre’s activities, focus groups, professional development, and Board work.
Our Educators are active participants in children’s learning and activities. Everything we do with the children at the Centre can be a learning experience. Children are observed as they play and explore and these observations are recorded daily both for the family’s information as well as the Educators. By reflecting on their observations Educators are able to incorporate the children’s thoughts, ideas and activities into the curriculum. Educators meet weekly to analyze their observations and plan curriculum based on the children’s spontaneous play, exploration, social concerns, academic curiosity or even serendipitous events and topics that catch the attention of the children, families and the teachers. Children’s projects, art and photos are displayed in order to document their thoughts and the progression of their learning and exploration of ideas. By making the children’s thoughts “visible” parents, guardians and teachers are drawn deeper into the children’s thoughts and ideas and shows children that their work is valued.
Families are our partners; they are involved in every aspect of the Centre. Our Educators share updates of each child’s day at the Centre through conversation, pictures on the walls, and portfolio updates. Family members are welcome at the Centre at any time and staff strive to make everyone feel welcome.
Our programming includes indoor/outdoor play, rest and quiet time. There are many opportunities for children to be active inside and outside; the environment being an extension of learning. The environment provides opportunities for discovery, mastering skills, being creative and more. Children also have quiet areas and comforting personal items when they feel the need for some quiet time; there’s even sleep space if a child wants to nap. For children who do not nap there are quiet activities that build on their interests and encourage creativity. Our learning environment is always changing based on listening and responding to the children’s interests and cues. If we observe and listen children let us know what they need; rest, food or indoor/outdoor play.
Our Educators promote developmentally appropriate expectations to support and guide children’s behaviour. We role model with children to help them develop and advance self-regulation. In keeping with our policy on positive guidance techniques; we interact with each child appropriate to their behaviour and age while following our Centre’s values of respect, listening, and appreciation of each other and we look to families to help by modelling these values as well.
Nanabijou Childcare Centre is committed to health and safety and nutrition requirements recommended by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and the Child Care and Early Years Act. Staff must follow all policies and procedures. The Centre’s Health and Safety representative works with staff, administration and a Board sub-committee to ensure the health and safety of the facilities for everyone that uses them. Concerns and changes to policy and practice are discussed at monthly staff meetings. The Centre’s cook and the Executive Director ensure that we follow the Canada Food Guide and our menus, which are posted monthly, are reviewed by the Health Unit at least once a year. Children have healthy food and beverage choices offered throughout the day.
The Centre welcomes community partners such as students and faculty from Lakehead University and Confederation College, as well as other Early Childhood Educators, Resource Teachers, Children’s’ Centre Thunder Bay and other professionals involved with our children and families. The children are always excited to discover the larger, wider world around them and so we explore the University campus and grounds, the river and the community garden nestled in the trees outside our doors. Sometimes the children jump on the City bus to get to the University, sometimes we walk and sightsee along the way. The Centre supports two-way continuous professional learning; we learn from the students and faculty at the university, the college and our professional community partners, as they learn from us.
Moving formally to Reggio – inspired educational programming means that our staff, to varying degrees, will be honing their skills in this approach. Many of our staff are graduates of Confederation College where the Reggio-inspired approach was taught, however ongoing professional development is essential in the field of childcare. The Centre has engaged a faculty member from the College to visit programs regularly, to provide feedback and guidance, to support reflective practice, and to support Educators in the development of observation and documentation skills. When staff participate in local, regional and provincial professional development opportunities we ensure that those unable to attend are briefed by the attendees.
Nanabijou Childcare Centre will continually evaluate the implementation of the Reggio-inspired programming. We are working closely with representatives from Confederation College’s Early Childhood Education program, and other local childcare centre providing Reggio – inspired programming, to ensure that we are meeting expectations of our children, families, the Ministry of Education, and our local DSSAB. We have and will continue to do this through annual parent/guardian questionnaires, focus groups on specific issues related to the Centre and one-on-one meetings with families. We conduct annual employee performance reviews and check in quarterly with staff regarding their education/professional development plans.