As our child care centres reopen – with safety guidelines in place – we are excited to bring you more Centre Stories!
If you read How Does Learning Happen, you will find the following paragraph on page 24: “Enabling children to develop a sense of belonging as part of a group is also a key contributor to their lifelong well-being. A sense of belonging is supported when each child’s unique spirit, individuality, and presence are valued.” Today, we want to focus on an activity in one of our centre’s preschool rooms that helped foster this important sense of belonging.
One day, the children arrived to their classroom to discover a large sheet of blank paper spread out across a table. There were also paints, paintbrushes, and cups of water, all of which had been prepared by the Early Childhood Educators of the room. The activity was to work together to make a large painting that they could hang up in the classroom.
Speaking about the project, one ECE wrote that “the children worked together to create the painting. They each took turns adding to the artwork, bringing their own unique style to the piece.” This reflects the point about ensuring that the individuality of each child is respected from How Does Learning Happen. By having the children take turns, the ECEs made sure that every child had their chance to add to the painting uninterrupted and without pressure from other children.
Each child brough their own take to the painting: some used red while others preferred blues and greens. Some preferred to paint their favourite shapes, while others favoured large pools of colour. Each child was encouraged to paint what they want, and how they wanted.
This activity was especially important to do now, after our Centre had recently reopened its programs. The ECEs recognized that the children’s sense of community was not as strong as it once was after months of not being together in the classroom. They knew that they needed to work to reinstall that community so that the children could be more comfortable in the program and with each other. “We believe that collaboration between children gives them a sense of belonging,” the ECE continued. “This is especially important during a time of separation and physical distancing.”
While the children were painting, our ECEs made sure to ask the children follow-up questions about their art: “What are you painting?” “Why did you choose to paint that picture or use those colours?” Questions like these help to create valuable communication skills in children: by asking them questions about what they are doing, ECEs help children put words to their feelings and thoughts, which make them better able to build relationships with each other and communicate more effectively.
The painting is now hanging in the classroom, a constant reminder of the community that is being built in the program.