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Program Statement

three preschool girls smiling outside

Curriculum and Pedagogy

The starting point for curriculum in the Umbrella programs is the belief that children are curious, capable and they learn best by pursuing their own interests and goals in a carefully designed learning environment. 

Educators view themselves as co-learners with children, listening carefully to children’s thoughts, providing materials and posing questions to allow children to explore, solve problems and draw conclusions. Children’s thinking and leaning is recorded by educators through photographs and written observation and posted in the program for the review and consideration of both children and adults.   

Staff members use the document “How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years” as set out by the Ministry of Education as a guide in supporting developmentally appropriate practice. This document includes expectations for programs centred on four foundations that are considered to be key ingredients for optimal learning and healthy development. These foundations are: Belonging, Well Being, Engagement and Expression. Goals for children include:

  •  Every child has a sense of belonging when he or she is connected to others and contributes to their world.
  • Every child is developing a sense of self, health, and well-being. 
  • Every child is an active and engaged learner who explores the world with body, mind, and senses.
  • Every child is a capable communicator who expresses himself or herself in many ways.

The four foundations for learning are implemented in the Umbrella Curriculum. The Umbrella Vision, Mission and Core Values statements closely align with these four foundations.

This program statement and the accompanying Implementation Policy is reviewed with all staff, students and volunteers prior to interacting with children and following any changes to the document. The Prohibited Practices and Monitoring Compliance and Contraventions chart forms part of the Implementation Policy. The review is signed by both the staff member and the designated supervisor. 

Umbrella is committed to supporting professional learning to support the implementation of “How Does Learning Happen” through agency training, dedicated program development time, agency participation in “Raising the Bar” quality initiative, coaching and financial support for professional learning.

Program Statement

Well-Being of Children 

We are committed to nurturing all aspects of Well Being for our children and families.  We believe that children benefit when we build supportive connections with their families. 

In order to learn and grow, children must be healthy and safe, both physically and emotionally. We view a child’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health as interconnected. 

Good nutrition and safe practices are the backdrop against which learning takes place. Menus are reviewed seasonally by our nutrition team. Meal and snack times are opportunities to socialize and share nutritious food with other children and staff. 

Umbrella staff are trained to create safe environments for children. Written sanitary procedures ensure that safe practices are followed. Umbrella staff are trained in First Aid and CPR and to respond to health concerns.

The daily schedule allows for indoor and outdoor play, active play, rest and quiet time, and gives consideration to the individual needs of the children receiving child care. Younger children have a mid-day rest time while older children have the opportunity for quiet times within the classroom environment based on their individual needs. 

The learning environments are designed to offer children open spaces to interact with others as well as quiet cozy places to take a break from the group. Connections with nature are encouraged throughout the curriculum.

Individual support plans are developed collaboratively with families and community professionals for all children with special needs enrolled in the program. Our goal is to support the child’s ability to participate in a meaningful and natural way through adaptations to the physical, social and learning environment. 

Every school has procedures in place to protect students and staff in the event of a serious incident in or around a school. Depending on the event, responses may range from Shelter in Place, Hold and Secure or Lockdown. These procedures are communicated to all users of the building and are practiced several times a year. Umbrella staff and children are included in the procedures and participate in the practices when they occur.

Supporting Children as They Develop a Strong Sense of Self and Positive Ways of Interacting With Others

Authentic, responsive relationships form the foundation for the development of self-regulation. Positive relationships with other children and adults help children to feel safe and competent, leaving them free to explore, solve problems, benefit from learning experience, co-operate and work collaboratively with others. 

We are committed to supporting children as they develop relationships with each other. Educators are responsive to children’s needs, and are alert to opportunities to support children as they develop ways of resolving conflict. We help children to develop self-awareness and constructive problem solving and decision making skills through clarification of feelings, encouragement and modelling. 

Diversity is affirmed both through our everyday practices which include attention to an inclusive and bias free environment as well as experiences such as language, cultural celebrations, cooking experiences and family engagement. We strive for an environment where all families are embraced and supported as children thrive when educators and families work in partnership. Our staff reflect the diversity of the children and families in the communities we serve.

Educators work alongside children to support identification and resolution of conflict by identifying feelings, describing problems and supporting child led resolutions. When children need adult support to guide their behaviour, it is done in a positive and caring way. Our goal is to help them to learn to manage their own behaviour and self-regulate.

Everyone in the Umbrella Family community is expected to demonstrate respectful and responsible attitudes and behaviour toward other participants and the environment. 

The Learning Environment

The classroom environment is designed to encourage exploration. Children are encouraged to experiment with a variety of materials available to them. This play based approach encourages children to learn through hands on experiences supported by knowledgeable educators. 

Umbrella staff members use the document “How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years” as a guide in supporting developmentally appropriate practice. This builds on Umbrella’s long commitment to using the Reggio Emila approach and the ELECT document.

Educators are committed to learning alongside children. They are alert to opportunities to expend plan and exploration using questions, prompts and encouragement. Educators listen carefully to children’s thoughts, providing materials and posing questions to allow children to explore, solve problems and draw conclusions.

Program plans reflect the developing interests of children and a deep understanding of the sequence of child development. This responsive programming sparks children’s natural inquisitiveness and desire to learn. Children’s work is displayed to extend learning and support reflection. 

Children’s thinking and learning is recorded by educators through photographs and written observations and posted in the program for the review and consideration of both children and adults.

Large and small group experiences designed to support social interaction and learning are led by educators on a daily basis. These opportunities can be initiated by children or educators.

Our goal is to balance extended opportunities for children to engage in activities with daily self-care routines. When adaptations to the environment are needed to support a child to fully engage in the program, parents and community health professionals will be involved in developing an individualized plan in collaboration with educators.  

Individual support plans are developed collaboratively with families and community professionals for all children with special needs enrolled in the program. Our goal is to support the child’s ability to participate in a meaningful and natural way through adaptations to the physical, social and learning environment. 

Community Involvement

Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton takes pride in our reputation for working collaboratively within the Early Learning and Child Care Community.   

Our relationships with our school partners and community members reflect our belief that collaboration supports children and families. We reach out to our local communities and we invite community members into our programs. Umbrella staff are also engaged in professional learning within the community. They serve on local committees and act as mentors for ECE and cooperative education students. 

Continuous Professional Learning

Professional learning and reflection are integral practices for Umbrella Family staff and supervisors. Umbrella staff have the educational qualifications, knowledge, experience and professional commitment to promote children’s learning and development. 

Educators are supported through dedicated time and financial support for program development, engagement with colleagues in collaborative learning and team building strategies. 

We participate in local Early Years initiatives such as “Raising the Bar” and ASCY (Affiliated Services for Children and Youth) programs which enhance quality in our programs.

Prohibited Practices

The following practices are prohibited in all Umbrella programs:

a) Corporal punishment (including but not limited to hitting, spanking, slapping, pinching)

b) Physical restraint of children, including but not limited to confining to high chair, car seat etc for discipline or in lieu of supervision (unless there is an immediate risk of self-harm or harm to others)*

c) Locking the exits of the child care for the purpose of confining the child, or confining the area or room without supervision (unless in an emergency situation)*

d) Use of harsh, degrading measures or threats or derogatory language directed at or used in the presence of a child that would humiliate, scare, or frighten the child or undermine their self-respect, dignity or worth

e) Depriving the child of basic needs including food, drink, shelter, toilet use, clothing or bedding or

f) Inflicting any bodily harm on children including making children eat or drink against their will

*If there is an emergency situation that requires a child to be restrained or confined, the supervisor needs to be informed to support safety of child(ren) and staff, report to parent(s) and to determine if a Serious Occurrence report needs to be made. 

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Program Statement

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Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton - Serving Hamlton for over 30 years

310 Limeridge Road West, Unit #9
Hamilton, Ontario L9C 2V2

(905) 312-9836

info@umbrellafamily.com

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