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How Does Learning Happen? Ontario's Pedagogy for the Early Years

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario's Pedagogy for the Early Years

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June 23, 2015 | Ron Spreeuwenberg
Learn about 'How Does Learning Happen?', how it relates to ELECT, and how HiMama can help you meet expectations with the Child Care and Early Years Act replacing the Day Nurseries Act in Ontario
Update on September 19, 2015

To get feedback from the early years community on How Does Learning Happen we posted a survey on Facebook directed at those working in early childhood education in Ontario. The feedback was quite overwhelming, with over 100 responses in only a couple days. Survey respondents were self-defined as Early Childhood Educators (45%), Early Years Administrators (Owner, Director, Supervisor) (21%), or Other (ECE Professor or Faculty, Consultant, Specialist) (34%). The results of the survey are by no means comprehensive or scientific, but I do think they give a good pulse on where people are at in the field.

Click on this link to see the survey results



On August 31, 2015 the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 will replace the Day Nurseries Act as the new legislative framework governing child care in Ontario. A key feature of the new Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) is the focus on strengthening child care programs and ensuring high quality experiences for children. As such, CCEYA authorizes the Minister of Education to issue policy statements regarding programming and pedagogy for the purpose of guiding operators of child care and early years programs.

On June 8, 2015, the Minister of Education issued such a statement on programming and pedagogy naming “How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years (2014)” as the document to be used by licensed child care centres in Ontario under CCEYA.


Why use 'How Does Learning Happen?'

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years is a key component of Ontario’s vision for the early years that was released in January 2013 as part of the Ontario Early Years Policy Framework. The visions is articulated as follows:

“Ontario’s children and families are well supported by a system of responsive, high-quality, accessible, and increasingly integrated early years programs and services that contribute to healthy child development today and a stronger future tomorrow.” – Ministry of Education, Ontario

What is 'How Does Learning Happen?'

How Does Learning Happen? is unique because of the strong pedagogical focus of the document. As defined in the Ministry of Education’s Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT), the word pedagogy means “the understanding of how learning takes place and the philosophy and practice that support that understanding of learning”. That is, pedagogy is not a prescriptive formula that lays out curriculum or activities you must undertake as a licensed child care centre in Ontario to meet specific government requirements. Instead, the document asks as many questions as it provides answers to encourage educators to challenge the status quo and explore how learning happens for children.

The Four Foundations of 'How Does Learning Happen?'

How Does Learning Happen? is organized around four foundational conditions that are considered to be essential to optimal learning and healthy development for children: Belonging, Well-being, Engagement, and Expression. The four foundations apply regardless of the child’s age, ability, culture, language, geography, or setting. Unlike a structured curriculum, the conditions are high-level states of being that children naturally seek for themselves and should not necessarily be viewed as separate elements.

How Does Learning Happen? also sets out a shared understanding of children, families, and educators, all of whom are central to applying the four foundations. The document explains how educators should aim to participate as co-learners with families and children – learning with children, about children, and from children. This is in refreshing contrast to traditional methods of teaching that are often too focused on one way direction from the teacher to the child.

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Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) and 'How Does Learning Happen?'

The groundwork for How Does Learning Happen? is the 2007 publication Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario Early Childhood Settings, commonly referred to as ELECT. ELECT has had a significant impact, being recognized as a foundational document in the early years sector. ELECT sets out six principles to guide practice in early years settings and also provides a continuum of development for children from birth to age eight.

As HiMama incorporates the ELECT continuum, we often get the question about whether our software could incorporate How Does Learning Happen? This, however, is not the right question to ask. The principles of ELECT and the four foundations of How Does Learning Happen? are both independent of what continuum or other development framework your child care or early years program utilizes. For example, your early childhood program may very well continue to use the ELECT continuum of development while following the four foundations of How Does Learning Happen?

The better question to ask is how you will utilize HiMama as a tool for implementing the four foundations of How Does Learning Happen? to ensure optimal learning and development for children in your centre. This principle of applying HiMama as a tool to enable your early childhood program to meet the expectations set out in How Does Learning Happen? has not changed from 2007 with Early Learning for Every Child Today.

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HiMama and 'How Does Learning Happen?'

Hundreds of early childhood programs in Ontario use HiMama in their licensed child care centres to meet expectations set out in How Does Learning Happen? Every program will apply HiMama in different ways to enable them to provide environments and experiences for children that align to the four foundations of belonging, well-being, engagement, and expression. How you use HiMama in your own program depends on the unique circumstances of your community, families, educators and children. However, we have provided some guidance on how HiMama will enable your early childhood program to meet the expectations set out by the four foundations based on feedback from early childhood programs using HiMama.

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If you would like to learn more about how HiMama can be applied in your programs to meet expectations of the Ministry of Education as set out in How Does Learning Happen? please contact us and one of our Community Advisors will be more than happy to speak with you.

Much of the information provided here is from the Ontario Ministry of Education document, How Does Learning Happen Document? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years



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