At Firm Foundation we implement an innovative care model which views the child as capable, competent and curious. We move to address the notion that children are first and foremost individual. Each child possesses interests and displays talent. At Firm Foundation we recognize the idea that we not only work with children but support future: artists, authors, scientists, producers and builders. We understand it is their uniqueness and interests that when fostered will lead them to a life of fulfillment. In response, we provide child-inspired programs to cater to the interest of the child as they present themselves; through play, exploration and inquiry.
Our curriculum is built around children’s inquiries, ideas and interests. At Firm Foundation we mirror the values of How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years as a professional learning resource and to support pedagogy and curriculum/program development in our program as it aligns with the Ministry of Education.
At Firm Foundation we are dedicated not only to the health, safety, nutrition and over-all well-being of children but also to their growth and development; physically, mentally and socially. Friendship, Integrity, Respect and Motivation (F.I.R.M.) are traits echoed in every aspect of our program.
Our clubs are the forefront of our unique program model. All clubs are designed, developed and carried out in close collaboration with the children. Through play, children are able to explore a vast variety of inquiries; learning about anything from construction to crochet. While we offer a variety of clubs, none are offered as gender specific. We embrace all lifestyles and interests of the children and encourage each one to become a master of their own special talents as well as pursue new ones. During clubs children are able to delve into whatever topic is of interest to them as they create ideas, ask questions, research and document their findings. Working as a team, children also develop a greater appreciation for their peers.
At Firm Foundation we strive to create experiences for the children. The environment is especially important in this matter. Creating and maintaining a warm, inviting and safe space is crucial for children to feel safe to explore and learn. Using the environment, both inside and out, helps to enhance the children's learning experience.
What Are Our Goals for Your Children and How Will They Be Met?
1. Promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being of children.
The health, safety, nutrition and well-being of our children is top priority. We work to
ensure children in our care are healthy and happy in all aspects of their growth and
development; physically and mentally. The following are a few of the many ways we approach this goal.
In respect to nutrition, Firm Foundation provides a range of well balanced and delicious morning and afternoon snacks which have been created in respect to Canada’s Food Guide and children’s suggestions. Snacks are consistent as we have found children look forward to knowing what snack will be offered each day of the week but do encompass a variety of food groups and tasty options. We also incorporate one “Movie Day” per month where, in addition to their regular snack, children are offered a mixed variety of pretzels and chips as they watch the film. Also, we offer one “Birthday Celebration Day” per month to celebrate all children whose birthdays fall on or around that month. On this day, children are offered a choice of special sugar cookie or cereal treat bar.
In regards to safety, staff is aware of and constantly monitors children at play to ensure children are safe and surrounding/potential hazards are minimized. Our staff is trained, through ministry publications and monthly staff meetings to recognize and intervene in times where children may not be engaging in safe play and or in times of potential bullying.
In respect to health and well-being, staff is diligent in ensuring children are well kept and
Cleanly. We encourage children to wash their hands with soap and water before and after
snack times as well as before and after outdoor play time or any club activity which may
require children to wash their hands.
If a child sustains an injury such as a scrape, cut, bump or bruise, staff will attend to the
child as required. This may include but is not limited to cleaning affected area and applying
a bandage or applying ice on and off for a period of time. In regards to wound care, all of
our staff is trained as required by the Ministry in First Aid and CPR and reviews standard first aid policies annually. No volunteer, student or staff shall be left alone with any child(ren) if they are not able to prove certification in First Aid and CPR.
2. Support positive and responsive interactions among the children,
parents and staff. Encourage children to interact and communicate in a
positive way and support their ability to self-regulate.
Our goal is to eradicate disrespectful as best we can. At Firm Foundation we follow a care model which places high value on Friendship, Integrity, Respect and Motivation. We remind children of our core values frequently and as necessary through group conversations as well as one-on-one discussions we make clear our core values, why we follow them and what they mean to our children and to individuals respectively.
Through not only monitoring but, providing children will the skills to cope and respond to specific interactions/situations we are able to provide a guide to mold children’s everyday interactions into ones of positivity and purpose. This may include but is not limited to: providing children with sample responses to situations/comments, peer intervention strategies, self-regulation strategies, child-directed problem solving.
We regard children as powerful and remind them of their ability to control their actions and create a space around them for positivity. We encourage children to be accepting of all for their differences and strengths.
We have developed a “Caught You Caring” initiative in which staff and children who witness a child displaying a characteristic such as the ones listed above can write the child’s name on a “Caught You Caring” slip and enter that child’s name into a monthly ballot. Each month a few children’s names are pulled from the box and win a award as well as a small prize. Staff also comes together to choose children who have demonstrated multiple valued characteristics to recognize. We have found that this has been a fun and exciting way for the children to be reminded of our core values; friendship, integrity, respect and motivation. A a staff we know it is important for all children to be recognized for their efforts and contributions and ensure by year's end that all children have been recognized for something positive they have done.
Our goal is to create a firm foundation for children to stand on as they grow into adulthood. In doing so, we ensure close and open communication amongst families, friends as well as community partners to reinforce a solid and secure network of players, mutually invested in the development of the child. We work as one, along with the child as a major player, to create an atmosphere in which each child will thrive. We strongly believe that only with this firm foundation in place will children feel safe to explore, learn, experiment and grow into the outstanding role models they were born to be. We do this by offering multiple family/friend events per year such as our “Breakfast with Santa”, “Family Fun Day” and “Drama Presentation Day”. All of these days are made to encourage camaraderie among and between staff, parents, families, friends and the children themselves. We strive to emulate a family. In building strong relationships with one another we share strengths, resources and knowledge, extending our support and creating the best and most positive community for our children’s growth and development.
3. Foster children’s exploration, play and inquiry. Provide child-initiated and adult supported experiences. Plan for and create positive learning environments and experiences in which child’s learning and development will be supported.
Firm Foundation’s most impressive feature, and one which sets us apart from other before and after school programs, is our Clubs. From Monday-Thursday, children are able to join a variety of clubs which may not only suit their interests but open their minds to new and different skills or knowledge. Clubs change with each session, of which there are three (Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer).
To ensure our clubs encourage exploration, play, inquiry, before each club session staff and children come together to discuss what club themes or ideas children would enjoy. Children’s suggestions and ideas are written down and staff will then meet to choose clubs based on popularity, children’s ages, strengths and abilities, staff qualifications, ratios, and practicality. Once clubs are chosen, children are given the opportunity to sign up for one club of their choice per day. The number of clubs offered per day is dependant on staffing, ratios and expected popularity of the clubs. We do our best to accommodate all children’s interests and first choices and are generally able to ensure every child has their first choice in clubs. Some examples of clubs we have offered in the past have been: Drama, Lego Creation Club, Artist Elite, Gym Games, Multi Sport, Petopia, Around the World Club, Inventors Club, Illusionist Club, Comic Book Club, Homework Club. We have found over the years that this model allows children multiple opportunities to find a personal “passion” something that excites them and and idea of what they may want to pursue in the future. With no limit to what clubs children may come to expect there is quite literally something for everyone.
Staff is dedicated to providing all children with the tools and environment to succeed in clubs. Leading by example, Staff will often take on the club that reflects themes they are passionate about themselves. Learning along with children, staff will research and learn about club topics to assist them in preparing for club activities and before conveying information to children. In offering activities, staff looks to the children for inspiration. Staff will ask children what they would enjoy learning about and focusing on during their club time and will cater activities to children’s responses. Activities provided are open-ended and child-initiated, accommodating for children of all ages, abilities and knowledge bases to thrive and succeed. Our goal as a staff above all is to ensure children are happy and having fun during each club session and club day. We find when happiness and fun is our priority children leave each club session knowing more then when they started and with a greater respect for the children in their club as well as the club theme itself.
Incorporation of indoor/outdoor/active play, rest and individual needs of the children
Most clubs are created with the intention of taking advantage of the great open space our child care centre is equipped with. However, many of our clubs do allow for frequent time and trips to the outdoors. Staff spends a great deal of time getting to know children and plans clubs with respect to all children’s needs. Staff is aware some children enjoy and require much time for physical and active play possibly in group settings whereas some children require quiet, individual or/more laid back club time. In response, when planning clubs we do our best to ensure that a minimum of one active club and one sedentary club option is offered each day. It is important to note that sedentary clubs will always have some element of movement in the way of activities, games, crafts etc. and all active clubs will allow for periods of rest as required by any child.
In regards to rest periods, as we are a before and after school program only we have seen where children can display signs of fatigue. In this case, we encourage children to rest with a quiet activity or book OR to lay down in on one of the couches in our reading centre.
Firm Foundation respects differences from child to child as well as differences among individuals day by day and hour by hour. For this reason, while we do empower children to push their own limits and try new things, staff will never force a child to participate or engage in an activity in which they do not wish to participate. We have seen many instances, for example in Drama Club, where children who may have previously been too nervous or shy to participate, come to love the club and thrive in it at their own pace. This change can be attributed to our respect for children’s individuality and allowance for children to grow and develop at their own pace. We provide the encouragement and tools for children to thrive in all areas and allow the children to develop and grow in their own time.
4. Foster the engagement and ongoing communication with parents about
program and their children.
Ongoing communication and engagement of parents is extremely important to our staff and our children. Parents are kept up to date with goings on in many ways. Upon joining Firm Foundation parents are offered a “Parent Handbook” which highlights much information, for example: our policies and practices regarding children, behaviour and the overall operation of the centre; to name a few.
Another way we communicate with parents is through monthly calendars and newsletters made available at the beginning of the month to all parents as they pick up their children. Any changes, up dates or special dates are made known via a letter home and/or displayed on a large white board at the entrance, next to our sign in table where a staff will be there to ensure parents are aware.
We also have a large bulletin board at the entrance of our centre which contains any information parents may need to know, examples of information included are: calendar, newsletter, pickup and drop off times, clubs and daily activities, snack schedules. Parents can refer here for any information regarding the daily activities.
In regards to complaints, concerns or questions, we encourage all or any to be brought to the attention of a staff member or to the operator. Staff will, if at all possible, to their best to be of help and/or resolve the problem. If a staff is unable to assist the parent they will pass along the information to the operator. Parents also have the option to contact the operator directly via drop in, phone (call or text) or email. Contact information can be found in the Parent Handbook, on our bulletin board, via business cards available at the front desk, or on-line.
We have policies in place which ensure all complaints, concerns or questions will be treated
will upmost respect and fairness. We value our community, families and children’s opinions and strive to make their experiences with us the best possible. At Firm Foundation, we respect all people. All families are treated equally and with empathy.
5. Involve local community partners and allow those partners to support the children their families and staff.
At Firm Foundation we feel it is important to involve community partners and children’s families in the program and allow them to support and enhance our children’s experiences and their learning. Involving local partners and families demonstrates a sense of community and shows children just how many people are invested in their well-being, development and growth. Some of the local partners we have and ways we involve them in our program are as follows:
New Life Church: While generally our program does not follow or promote any sort of religious agenda, we are directly affiliated with New Life Church and run our program
from one of their two buildings. As a co-owners, they provide a faith-based component to our program. Specifically during our March Break Camps and a few of our Summer Camps, New Life Church Pastors and Volunteers will offer devotionals and lively faith-based music that children in the past have loved and enjoyed signing and dancing along to. As we run our program on their premises our children and families are welcome to participate in any events, concerts, after school activities and services offered by the Church. We find those who choose to participate in these activities find it offers yet another outlet for community and friendship building.
Pizzaville & Starbucks (Kennedy Circle Locations): These location specific companies have generously partnered with us in the past few years to cater our Camp and PA Day lunches for our students as well as our Breakfast with Santa and other family events.
Epic Lazer Tag & Simply Creative: These independently run, local companies have taken the initiative to support us in providing fun and safe spaces for our children to play during PA Days and Camps. Children have loved visiting these locations in the past and look forward to visiting throughout the year.
World Vision: Firm Foundation is a proud supporter of World Vision. We foster two
children through World Vision, a boy and a girl. We graciously donate funds raised during
our Breakfast with Santa event to support our foster children. Our children and families
get to learn about our work with World Vision during our Breakfast with Santa event
where we share photos, letters and drawings we have received from our foster children
throughout the year. We find this provides our children with a sense of accountability to
humanity and the world in which they are a part and offers them a window into the lives of
children around the world. We hope this window evokes in our children a sense of gratitude
and appreciation for what have and the opportunities they share here in Canada.
Parents/Families: In keeping with our desire to create a sense of belonging and community
for our children and their families we encourage parents and families to not only keep in
constant communication with staff but offer and provide any time, skills, knowledge and
resources they can. In the past, we have received generous donations in the form of raffle
items and services from parents and families for our Breakfast with Santa event. The
majority of proceeds of those items and services are donated directly to World Vision. In
addition, we have had parents participate directly in our Clubs highlighting their skills as
they relate to the the Club theme. For example we have had a parent perform an
Illusionist Show as part of Illusionist Club. We have also had a parent come in and
demonstrate her work as a Veterinarian and answer children’s questions as part of Petopia
Club. We are always on the look-out for parents who would like to assist us in our Clubs and
are always open to suggestions and ideas from our families.
6. Employ quality staff and support staff in relation to continuous professional learning.
All of Firm’s staff members are dedicated to the well-being of our children. Caring, patient, responsive and knowledgeable, staff at Firm Foundation are not only excellent caregivers but co-learners as well. Our Early Childhood Educators are registered with the College of ECE and other qualifications include; Ontario Teachers Certification and Child and Youth Work. All staff have completed a Criminal Reference Check and Vulnerable Sector Screen, and are required to have a valid standard first aid certification including infant and child CPR prior to employment. Our staff are dedicated to professional growth and meet frequently to discuss changes to the program, children's needs and personal development.
Combined our staff has accumulated over 50 years of experience with children and families. For this reason we rely heavily on Peer Coaching and Monthly Meetings to assist us in our personal and professional development. New employees will “shadow” our staff until he/she feels comfortable running a group or club on their own. During this time any questions regarding behaviour management, transitions, problem solving/guidance techniques etc. will be answered.
Our monthly meetings serve to not only keep staff up-to-date with policies and procedures as well as children and families ever changing needs, they are also a time for Staff to share any ideas, knowledge, struggles, questions, concerns and/or comments. These meetings are meant to enlighten staff as well as refresh and perpetuate their ever growing spark for teaching. In addition, this is the time where supervising staff will offer and share any relevant, new or interesting information they have learned in the past month via webinars, seminars or readings.
Firm Foundation staff is affiliated with the Ministry of Education and The College of ECE’s from which we are granted access to a plethora of resourceful documents, webinars, seminars and current information. The field of Education and Childcare is an every growing and changing field, our staff is conscious of this and are encouraged to visit these resource hubs often.
Firm Foundation houses an extensive number of resources from which our staff can utilize to enhance their clubs and children’s experiences. These resources grow every club session.
7. Document and review the impact of the goals and strategies we employ
At Firm Foundation we are invested in the quality of programming we provide. It is important to us that we are impacting and enriching the lives of the children and families we work with through our strategies to reach our goals. To ensure all of our goals are being met, we frequently meet with children as a collective at the end of each club session to ask what their favourite clubs were and what parts of each club they enjoyed and why. This information is written down and reviewed to assist staff in future club planning and development. As a staff we meet as well, to discuss which clubs we enjoyed and why, our struggles and triumphs. As a team we provide praise, advice and coaching as needed. In addition, we provide all of our parents with a “End of Year Survey” at the end of the year intended to be completed as a family. The survey includes aspects of the program such as clubs, snacks, staff interactions, materials offered, yearly events as well as a section for comments or suggestions for the next year. We do our best to accommodate any suggestions and take all feedback seriously as our ultimate goal is to provide the best care and experience possible for our children and families.
8. Uphold appropriate behavioural management techniques and avoid prohibited practices.
At Firm Foundation we employ appropriate behavioural management techniques keeping in mind children’s age and unique needs. While we advocate fairness, staff is also aware that behaviour management is not a one-size-fits-all approach. In response, behaviour management techniques are individualized to each child. Techniques may include: positive reinforcement, “Caught You Caring” ballots, one on one discussions, utilizing natural consequences, strategic groupings and strategic setup of classroom environment.
As a general rule, staff places emphasis on creating an environment which fosters positive behaviour. We take preventative measures to avoid the need to correct children’s behaviour.
We do not condone any of the practices listed below:
Corporal punishment of the child
Physical restraint of the child, such as confining the child to a high chair, car seat, stroller or other device for the purposes of discipline or in lieu of supervision, unless the physical restraint is for the purpose of preventing a child from hurting himself, herself or someone else, and is used only as a last resort and only until the risk of injury is no longer imminent
Locking the exits of the child care centre or home child care premises for the purpose of confining the child, or confining the child in an area or room without adult supervision, unless such confinement occurs during an emergency and is required as part of the licensee’s emergency management policies and procedures
Use of harsh or degrading measures or threats or use of derogatory language directed at or used in the presence of a child that would humiliate, shame or frighten the child or undermine his or her self-respect, dignity or self-worth
Depriving the child of basic needs including food, drink, shelter, sleep, toilet use, clothing or bedding
Inflicting any bodily harm on children including making children eat or drink against their will.