Early Years Program Statement


The OICC Early Years Program Statement integrates Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (Inuit traditional knowledge) and the 6 Aboriginal Head Start components with key elements of How Does Learning Happen HDLH (Ministry of Education).

We are committed to supporting young Inuit children’s learning, development, health and well-being in a loving, caring, holistic and cultural context that promotes the preservation of the Inuktitut language. Inuit view children as unique gifts to a community. Through a process called Inunnguiniq, which relies on interconnectedness and relationships, children develop their capacity to live a good life and contribute to their community.

“A good life is considered one where you have sufficient proper attitude and ability to be able to contribute to working for the common good—helping others and making improvements for those to come. This is a holistic child development approach that ensures strength in attitude, skill development, thinking, and behaviour. The specific process for ensuring this result—inunnguiniq—is a shared responsibility within the group. Inunnguiniq is the Inuit equivalent of it takes a village to raise a child.” (Shirley Tagalik)

HDLH components: BELONGING, WELL-BEING, ENGAGEMENT, EXPRESSION

Children are competent, capable, curious and rich in potential
Children are the central piece to a family and community and they hold the future in their minds, bodies and spirits. We embrace each child and recognize his/her individual gifts.

Families include individuals who are competent, capable, curious and rich in experience
Families nurture and teach children to become who they are meant to be. We embrace each family and support them in their role as the most important people in a child’s life.

Educators are competent, capable, curious and rich in potential
Educators bring a range of professional and life experiences that enriches the lives and experiences of children in their care. What we do today matters tomorrow.

BELONGING

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GOALS:
Every child has a sense of belonging when he/she is connected to others and contributes to his/her world.
Parents/guardians feel a sense of belonging when they are connected to others and contribute to their community.
PROGRAM EXPECTATIONS:
To cultivate authentic, caring relationships and connections to create a sense of belonging among and between children, staff, families and community.

HOW?

⇒ Promote and celebrate Inuit culture and language:

o We promote Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit principles in interactions, activities, teachings and relationships.
o We encourage children and families to be proud of their Inuit heritage.
o We incorporate traditional play items such as bone games, string games, ulus, drums, amautiit, atigiik, Inuit dolls into children’s play.
o We set up the learning environment with books, print materials and other artifacts that promote Inuit culture and language.
o We engage Elders and community members to teach and show traditional skills and knowledge.
o We teach children traditional skills and knowledge such as preparing country food, reading the weather, seasonal changes, sewing, carving and lighting the qulliq.
o We model and teach children to show respect for Elders.
o We demonstrate respect for and understanding of traditional naming practices that honour the spirit of loved ones.
o We accommodate the needs of children whose first language is Inuktitut.
o We understand the integral role that Inuktitut plays in culture.
o We support and encourage the learning, retention and preservation of Inuktitut.
o We share culture and language resources with parents/guardians.

⇒ Support positive and responsive interactions among the children, families, educators and staff:

o We develop and model caring, accepting, respectful, supportive, trustworthy, responsive and positive relationships with and amongst children, families, educators and staff.
o We encourage children to do their best to help and care for others.
o We connect with each child and recognize and value his/her unique spirit, individuality and presence.
o We accept and respect children and parents/guardians where they are at as individuals.
o We develop strong bonds with children and take the role of extended family in supporting the family.
o We foster positive relationships amongst staff and support individual staff in a caring manner.
o We create a caring learning environment where children play collaboratively and participate together in daily routines.

⇒ Plan for and create positive learning environments and experiences in which each child’s unique learning, abilities, perspective and development will be supported:

o We allow individual children to develop at their own pace, while recognizing and supporting developmental milestones.
o We develop policies, practices and environments that respect and support inclusion, meaningful participation and a sense of belonging for all children.

⇒ Build trusting relationships and connections with families to promote a sense of belonging at OICC:

o We understand that a period of adjustment is expected when families relocate to Ottawa from the North and we support them through this transition.
o We create a welcoming environment where families feel comfortable, get involved, share knowledge and have a sense of shared ownership.
o We provide transportation services to children to reduce barriers to engagement.
o We foster an open door policy for families to be involved.
o We respect and support individual family values in raising children.
o We recognize, respect and support the importance of parent-child attachment.
o We welcome new families with open arms and find ways to connect families with each other.
o We know the importance of family, extended family and community in the child’s life.
o We provide space for CAS parent-child access visits.
o We support bilingual and bi-cultural families by engaging all families.
o We engage adoptive and foster parents to gain their perspective and promote engagement.

⇒ Recognize that each person has a valuable contribution in serving our community:

o We create a sense of belonging and acceptance where every child is valued by others.
o We see children as a gift to the community and central to the family and community.
o We find ways to integrate the unique perspective of parents/guardians, caregivers and extended family in meaningful and authentic ways.
o We value the many relationships that children form with adults, other children, the community and the natural environment.
o We rely on a strength-based approach to support unique gifts, skills and talents of children, staff and families.
o We celebrate and share the beauty of Inuit culture through children’s performances in the community.

WELL-BEING

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GOALS:
Every child is developing a sense of self, health and well-being.
Parents/guardians have a sense of health and well-being.
Parents/guardians and children have access to health and wellness supports and services.
PROGRAM EXPECTATIONS:
To nurture children’s healthy development and support their growing sense of self.
To acknowledge that family health and wellness impacts the health and well-being of children.

HOW?

⇒ Promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being of the children:

o We serve traditional food to children when available e.g. caribou, seal, arctic char, bannock.
o We develop and follow policies and procedures to ensure health and safety of everyone.
o We provide nutritious meals and snacks and establish positive eating environments.
o We pay attention to the physical and emotional states of each child and respond in a warm and sensitive manner.
o We support children in their need to take physical challenges while at the same time promoting safety e.g. using an ulu, lighting qulliq.

⇒ Incorporate indoor and outdoor play, as well as active play, rest and quiet time into the day, giving consideration to the individual needs of children:

o We provide ample time for outdoor play encouraging children to use materials from the natural environment to extend and challenge their play e.g. rocks, bones, twigs, moss, stumps.
o We provide regular daily opportunities for children to play and explore the environment with their bodies, minds, and senses.
o We plan outdoor activities and experiences that are similar to authentic northern experiences e.g. building an igloo, traditional canvas tent, sledding with sealskins, pulling kamutiik, pretend ice fishing and other games.
o We provide time for rest and quiet play and activities during indoor and outdoor play.

⇒ Support families and staff in accessing health and wellness supports and services:

o We recommend formal assessments for children when required.
o We work together with families and other professionals to support children’s learning and development needs.
o We connect families and staff to other community resources/services and follow up on referrals,
o We provide monthly well-child checks in partnership with community health services.
o We provide regular dental screenings and hygiene activities in partnership with City of Ottawa.

⇒ Foster the development of self-care and self-regulation for children, parents/guardians and staff:

o We promote self-regulation through caring and supportive guidance for all.
o We provide opportunities and time to practice independence, self-help and self-care skills based on each child’s capabilities throughout daily routines and activities.
o We plan staff activities that promote self-care and personal well-being.
o We offer parent programs and activities aimed at self-care and personal well-being.
o We support individual efforts with kindness and praise.
o We model and advocate for healthy lifestyles.

ENGAGEMENT

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GOALS:
Every child is a curious, active and engaged learner who has a love of learning and joy in discovery.
Parents/guardians are active and engaged in their child’s learning and education.
Community partners are engaged with our programs.
PROGRAM EXPECTATIONS:
To provide environments and experiences that engage children in active, creative, and meaningful exploration, play and inquiry.
To encourage families to be engaged in their child’s learning and education.
To reach each out to community partners to engage them in our programs.

HOW?

⇒ Foster the children’s exploration, play and inquiry and provide a blend of child-initiated and adult-supported experiences:

o We plan daily routines with limited interruptions and transitions to provide ample time for children to choose and engage in different types of fun, sustained, complex play and inquiry.
o We plan curriculum through a wide variety of interesting objects and open-ended materials for children to explore with their senses, manipulate and investigate.
o We foster children’s interest in and connections with stories and books.
o We plan monthly field trips to provide fun educational experiences.
o We understand that play is critical to the development of creativity, imagination, independence, friendships and solving problems and conflicts.
o We take an active role in play with the children.
o We recognize that children learn from observation and through experience e.g. beading, sewing, cleaning skins.

⇒ Involve local community partners in programs and in supporting children, families and staff:

o We work with families and community partners to make flexible program adaptations and provide special equipment and or adaptive devices when needed.
o We promote an open door policy and visitors and guests are warmly greeted.
o We build partnerships with a range of service agencies in the community.

⇒ Foster children’s preparation for entry into school:

o We plan activities that will help children discover and develop awareness and understanding of key concepts of literacy and numeracy.
o We liaise with elementary schools and teachers to foster smooth transitions.
o We help prepare families for their child’s entry into school.

⇒ Foster the engagement of and ongoing communication with families about the program and their children:

o We respect and support different types of families; are inclusive of non-Inuit and adoptive/foster families.
o We encourage families’ involvement in their child’s early learning and development e.g. sharing information, volunteers, visitors, sharing traditional skills, Board of Directors, Parent Council.
o We provide a thorough intake process for families that includes visits to centre, registration, Theory of Change questionnaires, parent handbooks and parent orientation/BBQ.
o We foster a strong sense of belonging and connection to the community through celebrations and events e.g. parent orientation/BBQ, AGM, Christmas Party, year-end celebrations, Inuit Day.
o We engage in ongoing and regular communication with families e.g. communication books, progress reports, newsletters.

⇒ Document and review the impact of these strategies on the children and their families:

o We observe and document children’s thinking, learning and development to make it visible to children, families and others.
o We share information about children’s progress through bi-annual progress reports and Parent-Educator interviews.
o We plan curriculum using specific knowledge from observations of individual children in the program including skills, knowledge, needs, interests and learning styles.

⇒ Support individuals, educators and staff in being life-long learners:

o We provide professional development opportunities to educators and other staff on a regular basis.
o We encourage educators to reflect on their practice and discuss different perspectives.
o We support the involvement of students in our programs e.g. ECE, Co-op, University.

EXPRESSION

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GOALS:
Every child is a capable communicator who expresses himself or herself in many ways.
Parents/guardians feel comfortable expressing their views and communicating with staff.
PROGRAM EXPECTATION:
To foster communication and expression in all forms with children, staff and parents/guardians.

HOW?

⇒ Welcome others and be open in communication and interactions:

o We engage in authentic and reciprocal communication with children and families.
o We practice active listening with children, families and each other.
o We communicate with families using a variety of methods e.g. calls, newsletters, communication books, emails, in person.
o We encourage parents/guardians to share their perspectives, feedback and viewpoints e.g. Parent Council, parent surveys.

⇒ Encourage children to interact and communicate in a positive way and support their ability to self-regulate:

o We support and respond to children’s different cues and ways of communicating.
o We support individual children of all abilities in expressing themselves and being understood.
o We facilitate communication between children by helping them listen to and express themselves to one another.
o We support children’s varying abilities to self-regulate and foster new skills and strategies.

⇒ Foster children’s creativity:

o We provide time, space and materials to encourage expression through creative experiences.
o We encourage critical thinking and creative solutions.

⇒ Work collaboratively toward common goals:

o We recognize and advocate for the rights of Inuit children and families.
o We discuss programs and issues at team meetings and make decisions and propose solutions as a group.
o We work together to set goals and make plans for the future.
o We encourage children to cooperate and work towards a common goal e.g. block building, tidy up.

⇒ Respect each other and consider different perspectives when making decisions:

o We value and respect the cultural knowledge that educators bring to the children, families and program.
o We support parents/guardians in feeling comfortable and safe to share their feelings and experiences.
o We show respect for others’ opinions, perspectives, respective work duties and responsibilities.

⇒ Find solutions and use our resources effectively:

o We reflect on and seek to improve our communication strategies with children, staff and families.
o We encourage staff and families to be resourceful and determined in seeking solutions to problems.
o We respect and nurture our relationship with the natural environment e.g. taking care of animals, plants and insects.
o We teach conservation when all parts of traditional food are used e.g. use of seals.
o We teach and model the principles of “reduce, reuse and recycle.”
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