December 2022 newsletter
Did you ever cuddle up close to a sibling for a story? Bake cookies with your grandmother? Make tracks in the snow with your father or snow angels with your mother?
"Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family."
With the holiday season approaching, thoughts of family come to mind. For many, December marks the beginning of traditions with family – from multigenerational feasts to meaningful moments with someone special. Reflecting back on special moments like storytelling, making gifts, baking treats or getting out in nature, the time we spend with family forms memories that last a lifetime. These moments with family not only create lasting memories, they also help to shape who we are. Values and beliefs, customs and traditions, language and culture are all formed through our connections and interactions with family. This foundation lasts throughout our lifetime.
What types of family traditions do you have? What are your special family memories? How has your family shaped who you are? Knowingly or unknowingly, family has shaped you as a person and as an early learning educator. Recognizing the impact family has had in shaping your identity is central for recognizing the important role families have in the lives of the children you nurture – and it opens up possibilities to engage with families in deeper ways.
"What we know matters but who we are matters more."
This month, as we celebrate the holidays in our programs consider how we can honour family and support the foundations of the children we work with.
Do you know?
The Yukon Government provides a universal child care funding program!
The Early Learning and Child Care unit promotes the development of accessible, affordable, quality early learning and child care. Our universal child care program is available to all Yukon families using participating licensed child care spaces. Parents whose children are registered in licensed child care save up to $700 per month per child. For example, if a program charges $850 in fees per month, the family will now pay only $150 per month. Children in part-time programs will receive a pro-rated fee reduction.
To learn more about this program visit: yukon.ca/en/learn-about-universal-child-care-program
For families who may need additional support in their monthly child care fee, the Early Learning and Child Care unit offers the Child Care Subsidy Program. This funding program assists families who may not be able to afford to pay for their child to attend a licensed child care centre, family day home or school-aged program.
For information about this program visit: yukon.ca/en/education-and-schools/early-childhood-learning-and-programs/apply-child-care-subsidy
Early learning programs and educators are encouraged to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about opportunities, funding and additional supports available for families in Yukon.
Everyone has a family tree, no matter how big or small. But what happens when mine has more than just the roots, trunk, and branches? I’ve got six parents (yes, six—you can count with me and see) and enough siblings to take up almost all of my fingers. Will this piece of paper, with the stems, branches, leaves, trunk, berries, and nuts of the great, big, loud, colorful, fun, crazy family I call mine, even fit on Ms. Collin’s wall at school?
Florence and Her Fantastic Family Tree by Judy Gilliam explores the idea of family as a young girl tries to complete her family tree assignment for school. It is a good reminder that families can come in all sorts of forms and a call for educators to both reflect on the activities done with children as well as the ways families can be included in children’s learning experiences
"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future."
Gail Lumet Buckley
Inviting families in
Creating welcoming spaces for families in early learning programs.
There are many benefits with welcoming families into early learning spaces. When families have an opportunity to engage with the program and see what and how children are learning, they can reinforce the learning at home, which strengthens development. Programs and educators can in turn learn from and about families, including their language, culture, traditions, values and routines. This information can then be used when planning for children’s success, building experiences that are relevant to the children in the program and supporting the foundations families are building for their child.
Families are the first teachers, the primary caregivers, and the knowledge-holders of their children. Families have the most important role in promoting their children’s well-being and learning.
(B.C. Early Learning Framework, 2019, p. 16)
There are many different ways to involve families in early learning spaces and experiences, including:
- Hosting an open house for families where they can explore the program space and the learning activities their child has been engaging in.
- Offering a monthly brown bag lunch date where families can bring a lunch to enjoy with their children in the program.
- Throwing a festive celebration for families to attend that children have helped plan and put together. Consider asking families what their traditions are and if they could be included in the celebration.
- Creating a portfolio for each child (paper or digital) that can be shared with families. Include artifacts such as photos, videos, authentic art pieces, children’s stories and educator reflections about the child’s experiences and learning at the program. Consider asking families to add their thoughts about what is shared or artifacts from home to the portfolio.
For more information about the value and importance of involving families in learning experiences, check out these resources:
- What is the importance of family involvement in early childhood education? -https://www.nu.edu/blog/ask-an-expert-what-is-the-importance-of-family-involvement-in-early-childhood-education/
- Getting families involved - http://resourcesforearlylearning.org/educators/module/20/13/60/
- Research Brief: Parental and community engagement matters - https://www.oecd.org/education/school/49322478.pdf
Our future, and the well-being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today."
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada
Create learning stories to showcase children’s learning that you can share with families. Learning stories are a form of documentation that can include artifacts such as photos, videos and authentic art pieces as well as children’s stories, and educator reflections. Even families can be involved by adding their thoughts or other artifacts from home to add to the story.
Learning stories can be done in many different ways:
- Documentation boards in the program that highlight a certain topic or event.
- Digital portfolios created with online tools such as Canva or Prezi that can be shared electronically with families.
- Paper portfolios that may include a collection of learning stories from throughout the year that can be shared and built upon in collaboration with families and children.
- A class book that each child can contribute to and share with families during an open house or other family event.
To learn more about learning stories, check out these resources:
“Making traces visible to families creates an opportunity to ask for their input and reflection. Share with families that what they have to say is important to further understand what children are learning and experiencing.”
(B.C. Early Learning Framework, 2019, p. 58)
Consider asking families:
- What do you think your child is doing/learning in this moment?
- Can you help me deepen my understanding of what is happening in this moment?
- Is there anything you could add to this story (background information, personal experiences, insights into personality)?
- How do you see this moment in relation to your image of the child?
- What prior knowledge does your child bring to this moment?
- What does knowledge mean to you? What knowledge is important to you?