I have been having the privilege of volunteering at Wascana Daycare on campus at the U of R. It is one of two daycares on the campus and takes children between the ages of 18 months to 6 years. My initial impressions were fantastic ones! The workers keep at ensuring the environment is calm, natural, and fun for children. Every space contains aspects of nature such as pebbles to play with, wooden logs and stumps to sit on, and plants to care for. This was a pleasant surprise for me. The idea of bringing nature indoors is something I am passionate about. I believe that it is a human nature to be connected to the outdoors, but unfortunately, the majority of our population has lost that connection. Bringing the outdoors in can be a simple yet beneficial way to reestablish that connection. The Wascana Daycare is doing an exceptional job connecting children to nature. The nature aspects brought into the daycare also have a very calming effect on the environment. It is peaceful and calming. Things such a soft music, lamps rather than bright ceiling lights, windows, and pillows all aid in bringing about a calmness.
Something that I really found interesting was that the Daycare follows a “play to learn” philosophy. Like what was previously discussed in our textbook, playing is children’s form of working. At their stage in growth, they are working at learning new things, trying to make sense of what is going on around them, making connections, and creating synapses. At Wascana Daycare, children make their own choices, if they want to participate in storytime they can, or they can leave their group and play. Likewise with snack time and craft time; it is their choice and they can play as much as they desire.
One concern that I have with giving children so many choices is that once they begin school they may not be given as much freedom to choose. Knowing how strict some kindergarten teachers are, this idea frightens me. I can vividly remember having to sit for long periods of time in the “criss-cross applesauce” position, however, during story time at Wascana Daycare the children can stand, walk around, or even, as I mentioned, go and play. I worry that these children will be in for a harsh surpirse when they move on from Daycare. Some workers share this concern and will enforce certain rules such as sitting and participating during storytime.
I look forward to spending more time learning with all the little ones at Wascana Daycare. I expect to strengthen my patience during the process as well as gain classroom management skills, figure out my “teacher voice”, and gain a stronger understanding of the different stages of child development. I know it’s gonna be great!