Capable, Confident and Curious – Nova Scotia’s Early Learning Curriculum Framework

Background

An early learning framework is important and exciting for many reasons. Frameworks, rather than being ‘prescriptive,’ (that is, telling us what to do and how to do it) are used as guidelines. These guidelines remind us of our knowledge base, and how to translate our knowledge into what is globally recognized as wise and innovative practices.

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‘Early learning and child care curriculum frameworks embrace children’s everyday experiences as the foundation for curriculum….in early childhood, curriculum is integrated, emerging from children’s fascination with the world and what is meaningful for them.’ (adapted from Play, Participation and Possibilities: An Early Learning and Childcare Curriculum Framework for Alberta, 2014).

A framework provides consistency. When we have a shared vocabulary and vision for children, we can work together, sharing ideas and approaches, knowing that across the province – while not providing the same programmes – we are sharing the same positive goals for children. We can become, through this shared framework, a province-wide ‘community of practice’ where educators, leaders and families understand how young children learn, and how to provide exciting and innovative ways for children to engage with their world.

The Pilot Phase

Educators from around the province have contributed to this framework, through a pilot project that involved 42 centres and represented the wide range of early childhood settings and services that exist in Nova Scotia. These centres generously offered to engage with the draft framework, through workshops, meetings, and conversations, over a period of six months. They then provided valuable feedback through an evaluation process, which was used to modify the current edition of the framework and to guide next steps.

The Plan to Move Forward:

Using the feedback from the pilot project, as well as research from across the country, recommendations were developed that encompassed:

  • The need for local, community-based workshops and training, with plenty of time to reflect upon and try practices from within the modules.
  • Develop leadership skills for those who will be leading educators.
  • Add new topics, including learning around parent/community engagement, to the series of subject areas for in-service training.
  • Continued onsite and online support as we move forward with learning about the framework.

A series of professional development modules are being developed and will be delivered in each region of the province over a two-year period. Modules will encompass all aspects of the framework, including leadership and family/community engagement, as well as some extra topics that are foundational in our work with children.

Our framework informs educators’ expectations of children and engages educators in critical thought and reflective practice (Flanagan 2017). We have a huge opportunity here; to take a thoughtful look at our own practices, collaborate with other educators, invite family input, and see our existing settings through a fresh lens. The framework will invite continuing dialogue, which in turn will guide us as we extend and enrich children’s development, learning, and care. Welcome to this exciting and ongoing journey!

English https://www.ednet.ns.ca/docs/nselcurriculumframework.pdf
French https://www.ednet.ns.ca/docs/nselcurriculumframeworkfr.pdf

Learning about the Framework

As we move into learning about and using the new Capable, Confident and Curious, it is important to have a strong foundation from which to move forward with the types of practices described within the document. The framework is based on reflective practice and the examination of our beliefs, values and philosophies, as well as how these affect the delivery of care and learning for Nova Scotian children.

Over the next couple of years, the Early Childhood Development Support Sites will be offering professional development opportunities to support the implementation of the curriculum framework.

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Modules are being developed that will encompass all aspects of the framework, including leadership and family/community engagement, as well as some extra topics that are foundational in our work with children. These modules are available to leaders and educators in order to support the use of the framework in their daily practice, and will be delivered by facilitators who are local to your area.

Sessions and support materials will be available in both French and English.

As an example of how

we will begin, here are the intended topics for the first session (i.e. two modules), beginning this fall:

  • Regional 2-day deliveries of Session 1 for directors or pedagogical leaders includes the first two modules: Image of the Child and Pedagogical Leadership.
  • Regional 1-day deliveries of Session 1 for educators whose directors or pedagogical leaders have engaged in the training.

Throughout the following year, and into the Spring of 2020, we will continue to explore and reflect upon all aspects of the framework.

 

Module 1

Pedagogical Leadership

Pedagogical Leaders demonstrate credible knowledge of the teaching and learning process and draw on those principles to guide individuals and groups.’ (Coughlin and Woodburn, 2016)

This module, designed for any type of leader in our field who is working in a regulated child care setting or Pre-primary Program, will focus on how pedagogical leadership supports educators in reflecting upon, and learning more about, their practices with children.

We will address - through experiences and dialogue – the questions: What is an effective pedagogical leader? How do we work through growth and change in positive ways? How do we encourage innovative practices?

Participants will:

  • develop an understanding of the role of a pedagogical leader, how this role can be improved through reflection, and how this type of leadership can support the vision and goals of their setting.
  • explore ideas around leading others through change and growth, while making connections to the famework, as they practice motivating, coaching, and mentoring skills.
  • reflect upon what it means to be a leader in terms of curriculum decisions; how we develop programs that are play-based, intentional, and connected to the practices described in the framework.)

 

Module 2

The Image of the Child

‘A person’s Image of the Child….is influenced by that person’s experiences, culture, values and beliefs’ (N.S Early Learning Curriculum Framework, p11).

This statement about the Image of the Child from the curriculum framework is foundational for the practices described within the document. In this module, we will use reflection and dialogue to work through our own images of children and how these are made visible in our day to day interactions, routines, decision-making, and responses to children.

We will address – through experiences and dialogue -  the questions: What is your ‘Image of the Child’? Why does this image matter? How do our images and practices align with the Framework? What difference does it make to our daily practice? How does the Image of the Child affect the role of an educator or leader?

Participants will:

  • articulate their Image of the Child, taking into account their own centre’s philosophies and values.
  • understand how their own childhood experiences, family background, spiritual and cultural values, as well as experiences as an adult and educator, influence their images of children.
  • improve awareness of what they see and understand in their approaches with children, and recognize how their images of children shape their ECE practices.

 

Module 3

Exploring our Early Years Practices and Connecting them to Capable, Confident and Curious: Nova Scotia’s Early Learning Curriculum Framework.

Early years practices vary widely across our province, and yet we all have something in common: A desire to provide the best programme possible for all our children. What does the Framework say about putting our good intentions into practice? What does this look like in our everyday work?

In this module, educators will examine six aspects of the Framework: Responsiveness to Children, Intentional Teaching, Relationships with people, materials and the world, Connecting our Image of the Child to what we do, Play as a way of Learning, and the Role of Families, Community and Culture. These aspects can be tied in concrete ways to our everyday work with children, and we will use activities and dialogue – including the Reflective Planning Cycle - to assist with making these topics come to life.

Leaders will also engage with these topics, but in addition will have the opportunity to consider how to support such practices in the workplace, how to bring families into decision-making processes, the development of communities of practice as a support system, and the role of pedagogical leadership as our classroom practices begin to shift and adjust.

 

Module 4

The Learning Environment and how it Supports Children’s Thinking, Ideas, and Engagement

This module will examine not only the physical environment (i.e. materials, furniture and space) but also the ‘non-visible’ aspects of the spaces where we work with children. How does an environment help to build relationships? Include all children and their interests and diversities? Encourage innovative thinking, for both children and adults? How does it make our philosophies visible?

Educators will consider all these questions with the goal of adjusting both indoor and outdoor environments in response to children, providing invitations that scaffold their thinking and learning, considering the role of beauty in our environments, and developing inquiries with children where the environment plays the important role of ‘third teacher,’ along with their families and their communities.

Leaders will consider the same topics, while also considering ‘whole centre’ aspects of the environment, how to include families and community, and how to develop an environment that supports a culture of reflection and innovation for their staff.

 

 

Module 5

Observation for Decision-Making Purposes

In our daily work, we observe children all the time – but how are we observing, and for what purpose? Knowing what to look for, and the possibilities for responding to what we see and hear, is a crucial part of inquiry-based curriculum, play-based practice, and the building of responsive and meaningful teaching and learning.

In Module 5, educators and leaders will:

  • Learn about ‘ways of noticing’ that are useful and useable during our daily work, together with varied methods of taking notes and photos.
  • Think through what we are looking for, and how to use the information that we have collected.
  • Connect these approaches to the framework in natural and authentic ways, using our relationships with children as one of the cornerstones of our work.

 

 

Module 6

Reflective Practice and How it Applies to Daily Practices with Children

In Module 6, participants will explore how reflective practice connects to the curriculum framework, how to use the Reflective Planning Cycle as a useful tool in our daily lives with children, as well as how to include families in this cycle.

Educators and Leaders will:

  • Work through the Reflective Planning Cycle in order to understand its practicality as a tool for reflection in our everyday lives with children
  • Reach an understanding of the difference that Reflective Practice can make in the quality of our programmes.

 

Module 7

Pedagogical Documentation; the What, Why, and How

Documentation makes children’s learning, ideas, thinking and strategies visible, and serves to communicate to others – parents, colleagues, the community – not only what is happening in our setting, but how, and why the documented play or event is important. It is a crucial part of reflective practice and ongoing professional learning for educators, and also a way to revisit past events with children.

In this module, through examples, discussion, and hands-on work, participants will:

  • Be introduced to the many forms of documentation, and which type to use in which situation
  • Understand the difference between display, documentation, and pedagogical documentation
  • Discover tools that will assist in developing documentation as a regular part of their day
  • Understand the multiple ways in which documentation can be used: Communication, Reflection, Planning-next-steps, Revisiting with Children

 

 

Module 8

Relationships with Families and Community

Children come to us from diverse families and communities, and we want them to feel welcomed, comfortable, and understood. How can we welcome and collaborate with all families so that everyone is included in our settings? What does it mean to develop authentic relationships? Do parents have a place in decision-making within our settings? How do we build relationships and collaborations with our cities and towns and how does this benefit all of us?

In this module, we will hear from educators who have developed, through varied approaches, strong and respectful relationships with families and communities.

Participants will:

  • Examine the idea of ‘relationship building’ and what this looks like in practice
  • Share ‘what has worked’ in terms of authentic collaborations
  • Understand the journey of building relationships over time, and the benefits of taking the time to do this: The development of trust, understanding of each others’ viewpoints, collaboration in terms of programme development.
  • Consider the ‘Image of the Parent’ and its impact.

 

 

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Children and teachers at a daycare centre in Bridgewater. The centre focuses on outside play and use of natural materials to promote learning.Photo: Megan Hirons Mahon

Children in the pre primary program at West Northfield and New Germany pre primary program. Communications Nova Scotia/Len Wagg