Early Childhood education at Your School and Fountain Square is child centered covering mathematical orientation, natural sciences orientation, historical-societal orientation, aesthetic orientation, ethical orientation and religious-philosophical orientation. We approach these orientations by using Project Based Learning (PBL). Project based learning gives us a great opportunity to integrate these orientations into a project which is interesting, meaningful and fun for the children. Children are curious by nature and we want to foster that. The more active and interested they are the better they learn.
At YS and FS we cater for individual needs taking into account all the different backgrounds and stages of development. Children have individual developmental goals which are set and assessed in co-operation with their teachers and parents at least twice a year, ensuring that specific Early Childhood Education plans are appropriate for each child. Individual interests are also considered when choosing projects.
ECEC at YS and FS aims to have confident English speaking children in everyday situations. ECEC aims to assist children to adapt to an enjoyable and fruitful experience that will eventually enable them to settle into schooling life. In co-operation with parents, teachers at YS and FS work closely to ensure that development goals for each child are consistent with their lives and parents’ expectations in their home lives. We set realistic goals for the children according to their age and individual needs. Giving children a chance to achieve their goals and experience success is at the very core of our educational goal.
The staff at YS and FS strives to maintain a high quality of ECEC practice that promotes equality, social justice and up to date pedagogical practices in our daily programs.
Vision of our daycare
At the very core of what we strive to achieve here at YS and FS stands a healthy, happy, content, active, independent, self-assured and curious child.
Children are met as they are with the qualities they have. We will make them feel accepted and appreciated as they are,regardless of their gender, social, cultural or ethnic background. We will promote healthy self-esteem and self-image, which will assure them of their place in the world. Underpinning this central image is a structure that has care, education and teaching as an integrated whole, with relative rations of each changing according to child’s age, personality and individual background.
The most important value we pass on is “we are all unique but the same”. Our multicultural daycare offers us a great opportunity to teach tolerance. Understanding of different qualities in people helps children to accept their own likes and dislikes and to build a strong sense of self-esteem. Strong self-esteem is a powerful tool to be flexible, deal with disappointments and be happy and content about yourself.
Our vision is to be the best English speaking daycare in Espoo. That is achieved by motivated and educated staff and parent co-operation as they are the experts of their children.
Role of language in our Daycare
Language has a particular role in our daycare. Providing daycare in English makes us even more aware of the language. We pay attention to what kind of English is used when spoken with children and around them. When planning different projects we make sure to provide broad and useful vocabulary. Since children participate in choosing the learning topics they learn vocabulary which is meaningful for them. Younger children are not forgotten even they might not be able to express their interests! Smaller children participate in planning through adult observation. Sensitive adults is the key.
Children are given the opportunity to integrate this new language into the early education and for others who already know English, to maintain the English speaking skills which were already mastered. All staff members are fluent in English and we do our best to have as many native English speakers as possible.
In our daycare facility, language offers a safe environment. The children are taught to express their thoughts and feelings used in everyday life. This serves of course, a vital role in the communication between children and adults. The focus and use of English in our daycare is always encouraged and rewarded. We find it important that children are allowed to express themselves in Finnish while still learning English. We do have children with other mother tongues as well and therefore English is naturally encouraged. The children are never penalized when used wrongly but instead further praised for initiating the use of the English language. When the children use the language with the wrong verbs, syntax or pronunciation, we gently correct by repeating in the proper and correct manner, and we never criticize thecourage or effort to try. During early childhood education years the children are introduced to a variety of projects which give them a large vocabulary. Children are introduced to Jolly Phonics at the age of five. Jolly Phonics introduces children to letter sounds through stories, actions and pictures. Oxford Reading tree –program waits until preschool year.
Language is more than just speech. Children hear English through books, poems, rhymes and songs. Language is playing with words, telling jokes, recognizing letters in own and friends’ names, hunting down the alphabet in a magazine. Learning English isn’t serious!
Our Educational goal
Our educational goal is to provide a child the great sense of knowledge, skills and value and to bring children seamlessly from Early Childhood Education to preschool and eventually school. Early childhood education should be exciting and interesting and promote exploration and experimentation with their surrounding environment.
Project based learning (PBL) plays a major role in creating experimentation and an interesting environment. Project based learning can provide a joyful learning experience for children. PBL invites the children to plan the project. By pondering about the world together we form questions(problems) which guide us in looking for the answers. A good project is a mix of challenge, engagement and personalized support, blended with a motivating, meaningful learning experience that reaches deep into the soul. Joy is the outcome. That is when the teacher knows he has reached the whole child.
Project based learning gives each child an active role in gathering the skills and knowledge they need. Therefore every child will walk their own path of learning. Through PBL many education resources, such as field trips and a variety of materials are used.
Project based learning is real world related, working with authentic questions and based on the children’s ideas. What are the children most interested in at that time? What do they play frequently? Have they asked a question which could be investigated? Project based learning gives the children an opportunity to go deeper into the chosen topic. Leaning process becomes more intense and rewarding. The next project naturally continues from what was learned from the previous one. The length of the project can vary.
PBL=Children’s choice, children’s voice. Comprehensive learning. Innovative thinking.
Implementation of ECEC
Each child is written an ECEC plan in co-operation with the parents. The first parent talk is to set the individual goals for the child and it is done within two months of the starting date. The plan is revised as needed, but at least once a year. Individual strengths, interests and learning objectives of the children are the “back bone” of the teachers planning. Depending on the child substance each year the goals of the planning change. The teachers will draw a summary together of the children’s ECEC plans to serve as a guide for planning.
The Role of the Educator at Fountain Square Playschool and Your School
The main role of the FS and YS educators are to make the children feel happy, satisfied and safe. When these needs are satisfied children can direct their attention to other children, the environment and activity. In order to accomplish this, we have to be committed and sensitive to the child’s feelings and needs.
Educators base their work on the principles of ECEC partnership. We are open-minded and tolerant towards children, parents, grandparents and to each other. By organizing parent’s evening and parent’s talks, we give the parents an opportunity to participate in their child’s care and education process. When needed, we refer parents to our multi-professional network, e.g. children psychologists, therapists and family counseling.
As educators we have two different roles: caretaker and teacher. A care taker supports the potential for growth and learning. A teacher plans activities and builds up an environment which both takes into account of most typical ways of action and different content orientations. The role of an educator integrates these roles. Educators at Your School and Fountain Square have a strong drive to bring out the best in the child by encouraging her/him to be independent. At the same time we give her/him support when needed. This gives the child a sense of fulfill ment from her/his participation in the daily routine, tasks, activities and social lives.
We keep up and develop our professional skills and keep up with the changing needs of ECEC by attending refresher courses and different lectures.
Continuous discussions among the staff, commits the individual and the team to have common goals. With our discussions, knowledge broadens and deepens. For this purpose we try to reserve some time every day.
ECEC environment in our unit
In FS and YS the positive psychological environment plays an important role in the early childcare education. It enables the child to develop his/her concentration, imagination, conceptual ability, co-ordination and joy of learning. The children learn to play in different groups to develop their social skills and become a good citizen. The following points are essential for the optimal growth and development for an ECEC environment.
The space in our playschools is spacious enough for children to move around and explore. All material and equipment is evaluated at several levels. All age groups have an access to active play equipment, material that stimulate their senses, manipulative toys, construction materials, art materials, books, videos and CD’s.
All kids have their very own locker and boxes where they can put their personal belongings. According to the age different groups have a quiet space to read, sleep, relax and enjoy their solitude.
The presences of adults give a child a sense of security, being cared and loved. The environment is created in such a way that they feel free to express their feelings of joy, sadness, excitement, awe and independence.
The ECEC environment includes also teachers who don´t normally work in the child’s own specific group. Parents are a part of the environment as well by joining in on special events. It is important for the children to see the interaction between the parents and the staff.
Children as active participants
Children are involved in evaluation as well. Child’s participation teaches them how to voice an opinion which increases self-knowledge. When children experience they are heard, they will learn to listen to each other. All these are linked to good self-esteem. In practice children’s opinions on themes and activities are asked monthly as part of a morning/afternoon circle. “Thumb up” for a good activity; “thumb down” for a bad activity. Smaller children can voice their opinion through educators. They listen and observe the children and choose topics which are present in their lives currently. Educators include in their planning strengths and interests of the children which are mentioned in the individual ECEC.
The children are asked for their opinion on new toys. Their interest and likes in games and plays are observed. Educators will provide more of these activities which are found stimulating and other hand the toys which are hardly ever used are put away.
Outdoor learning environment is equally important to the inside learning environment. Children are given opportunities to explore the surrounding world in the parks and the forest, walking to the park and on different trips around the kindergarten. Children have a say on what to do and evaluate on how it was.