Earlier this year, we were happy to highlight our new Mission, Vision, and Values statements to our community. One of those tenets stuck out to our Early Childhood Educators at our Before and After School program. Encouraged by the line “It’s about Belonging,” these ECEs made October all about our sense of Belonging!
Belonging in communities is incredibly important for children of all ages. After all, the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” exists for a reason! Children need groups to learn from each other, to practice important social skills, and how to behave around other groups of people in different environments. But the effectiveness of these shared learning experiences is lessened when the child feels that they don’t belong.
“We decided to highlight all of the things we can belong to,” explained our ECEs. “Things like a group at school, or a sports team, your family, or your group of friends!” They set a new task for their children: think about a place where you belong, and then tell us about it! Or, think of a place where you want to belong one day, and tell us why.
The children each took inspiration from a different place or group, with some talking about extracurricular activities and recess games like four square and cross-country club. Others talked about belonging to their family, and what made their family special.
(Our personal favourite was from one child who wanted to go visit a cat who sits in a house she passes every day on her way to school: “Dear house 106. I walk past your house every day. This letter is to you and your cute cat.” So cute!)
By the end of the activity, we made sure that everyone knew where they belonged, but also that they felt like they belonged at their Today’s Family program. “Each child wrote and drew something wonderful and different,” the ECE told us. “But in the end, all of the children had a reminder that they have somewhere to go and someone they can turn to and depend on.”
We believe strongly that all children should have that same sense of belonging that these Before and After School program children do. That is why we continue to advocate for things like proper childcare licensing and robust childcare programs, where children can feel safe and accepted for who they are. We will talk more about this over the next few weeks, but until then, we will see you next time.