I have been operating my dayhome for almost 15 years because I truly love the business of learning along side children – it is so joyful and rewarding to me. Every day is full of magical wonder! I look forward to each day with my team of adventurers, working with their families, the experiences we have and the challenges it brings.
I am invested in providing children in my care with what matters most in early childhood; to feel the warmth of the sunshine, a safe, relaxed, stress free environment where children are lovingly cared for, valued and feel like they belong, build heartening relationships, experience lot's happiness, lots of laughter, and PLAY!
The children and I enjoy a daily rhythm in a warm and nurturing family atmosphere. The theme is learning through play! The children are given the opportunity to initiate their own play experiences, they have access to variety of enchanting toys and quality materials, and all the amazing opportunities for play and supported risk taking the beautiful outdoors has to offer!
Hands on, mucky and messy, kid initiated fun is the pinnacle of learning through play!
I love my role of co-learner, trusting children and giving them freedom to stretch themselves, seeing them as capable learners and involving them in the learning process. The children's natural interests and inclinations guide the direction of our play. Through observation, documentation and reflection of my group's interests and developmental stages I introduce various provocations, loose parts, materials etc... to support their learning and development.
My dayhome is a legal, privately operated business, licensed with the town of Cochrane. The health and safety of all children in
my care is of utmost importance to me.
Teaming up with Jess has led to courses and workshops related to early
learning and development and outdoor ed. I've taken several that were wonderful and look forward to more (Workshop: Dave Verhulst of Forest Tracks in Canmore; Connecting to Nature Through Storytelling, Dr. Peter Gray - The power of play: How it promotes children's intellectual, social, moral, and emotional development..,
Institute of Child Psychology Workshop: Tammy Schamuhn, R. Psych, R.
Play Therapist - Childhood Anxiety: Understanding & Helping Children
, Kim Padorsky - Self-regulation & Sensory Processing...). I am also an avid reader of books on the topic of early childhood, and forest and nature play and school.
Outdoor time with the kids is a priority in my childcare and with my own family of outdoor enthusiasts. One of my greatest joys is discovering nature and active outdoor play with the kids. The children are so engaged and motivated in their learning process!
We are outdoors to play and explore daily and
in all seasons. Our outdoor pursuits often bring us outside for most of the day in warmer weather and shorter increments when the temperature drops in the winter. We enjoy eating meals and snacks
outside and sometimes napping in nature too! Camping out for nap time is a
favourite activity of the children who have their own individual sleeping bags and
shelter, and like to listen to storytelling before being lulled to sleep by the
birds, and a gentle breeze through the trees.
We explore; Cochrane Ranche, Big Hill Creek, in the large fenced backyard playground, walks and biking to the parks and playgrounds along the red path and in the area including Riverfront Park. The children's days are enriched with activities like campfires, picnics, mud play, creek wading, shelter building, snowmen, snow forts, sledding, puddle jumping, vegetable gardening, foraging, tree climbing, vegetable peeler whittling and much more! Unless it is dangerously cold outside (school closure, extreme windchill/frostbite warning) we will be playing outside!
Children are innately curious and scientists by nature. The outdoors provides the perfect environment for them to wonder, explore, build and manipulate! Connecting to nature is definitely one of the highlights of the children's day. They crave the freedom to
run around uninhibited, to explore and are delighted to engage in thrilling and challenging risky play . They go home excited to
share stories of climbing trees, wading in the creek, spotting wildlife like
herons, eagles, deer, moose, coyotes, foxes, snakes, squirrels etc..., and have
a true appreciation for their natural surroundings.
The children develop a deep connection to and reverence for the land they regularly adventure on and explore - Cochrane Ranche. The connection establishes a love for the place and the wonders it holds and a desire to protect and care for it.
Visiting their beloved nature sites daily and given unhurried time and freedom, the children are deeply engaged in playful learning and it is a truly beautiful thing to observe!
I love to see the children so aesthetically aware, pointing out the soft, silver fuzz on a new crocus or the curl of a dried out sepal on a rosehip etc... I am so fortunate to see things I might overlook.
I notice ruddy cheeks, bright eyes and "I am strong and capable!" attitude as they master and practice
emerging physical skills, climbing trees, leaping across boulders,
balancing on a log to cross a creek, bike riding all the way to the Bow
River, scrambling up steep banks, etc...
entertaining is watching the children's creativity
and their imaginative play; a bent over tree trunk "tree
trampoline" and collaborating to take turns bouncing on it, pretending
log across the dry creek bed is their horse, pounding Juniper berries
with rocks to make fragrant "cookies" or crawling under the trees where
only small people can
squeeze to discuss plans for soup made from pine cones, mud and grass,
playing deer hiding in the grass, howling wolf pack running through the
Working together to lift a heavy branch, catch a
water strider, pull a struggling friend up a bank, build a fort, etc.,
is teamwork, trust and problem solving in action!
The younger toddlers love the full-body, sensory-rich experiences
of the outdoors too! toddling around in the grass, dipping their toes in the
creek, filling and dumping containers with pine cones, mud etc..., crinkling
crunchy leaves in their hands, squishing moist moss etc.
A person once chanced upon our giggly play as he was out for a walk. He observed my team playing in the
creek on a hot summer day at the Ranche and paused to smile. The children were absolutely
exuberant, jumping off a log into the shallow water, lining up mud pies to be baked in the sun
and splashing each other. He wisely told me, "these kids won’t
remember the shows they watched or the video games they played this
summer...this is what they'll remember". Some of the most memorable early
learning happens in wholesome joyful experiences like these.
lovely for me to bump in to children I've looked after over the years,
who have since grown and moved on from my care (some of whom are adults
now!). After the hugs and chit chat, the conversation inevitably turns
to "remember when we... built that fort, went sledding and saw a moose,
had a fire, swam in the creek!". It fills me with warmth and joy to hear
their most memorable experiences were playing outside.
I am very passionate about the importance of
outdoor play in childcare and beyond. I get to see first hand the many benefits
of outdoor play and connecting with nature. It promotes whole child development.
I strive to create a warm and calm environment that evokes
investigation and curiosity, creativity and problem solving. The set up is
always evolving and changed frequently. It holds a variety of toys,
educational and open ended materials such as loose parts, manipulatives, very large library of books, puzzles
and games, Zoomy handheld digital microscope, light table, overhead projector, wind tunnel, sensory table, nature treasures, creative and dramatic play materials, musical instruments, a
plethora of construction & engineering toys like wooden arches &
tunnels, large hollow blocks, wooden blocks, coloured blocks, mirror blocks, Magformers, Magnatiles, ramps, Duplo, Lego and more. All are
rotated to keep things fun and interesting and we share and trade materials and ideas with Jess' team.