Sunday, 9 October 2016

Part 3: The Four Frames: Belonging and Contributing

The Kindergarten Program 2016: Unpacking the Front Matter - A Six Part Series

Part 3: The Four Frames: Belonging and Contributing

Welcome to Part 3 of my six part series, Unpacking the Front Matter of The Kindergarten Program 2016.

If you missed any of the other posts, you can read them here!

Part 3: The Four Frames: Belonging and Contributing

Let’s once again grab our Kindergarten Program 2016 (HERE) and get started!

What is Belonging and Contributing?

TKP 2016, p. 47
The first of the four new Frames is Belonging and Contributing (BC).

When you read the overall expectations and the specific expectations for this frame you will notice that it is a lot of the old Personal and Social Development, Language, Science and Technology, Health and Physical Activity and The Arts mixed together.

The expectations from these old learning areas are brought together into this frame to focus on:
- developing a sense of self and an identity
- standing up for themselves and others
- care and respect for the environment
- being a member of a community and exploring aspects of diverse communities
- expressing/communicating their thoughts around these topics/issues verbally, non-verbally and through the arts

The Rationale for this Frame

TKP 2016, p. 125

In order for children to have a positive experience at school where they feel safe, comfortable and valued, we have to develop a strong sense of belonging and contributing in our classrooms.

The key way that we can do this is through the development of relationships, particularly, positive relationships with themselves, each other, educators, families and the community. “Educators who are aware of the importance of these relationships adopt a style, in their interactions with children, that ‘builds connections.’” (TKP 2016, p 47)

“Relationships are fundamental to children’s personal, social and emotional development… and relationships within the classroom community provide a critical early environment for that development.” (TKP 2016, p 47)

Building Connections with Families and the Community

“Young children make sense of the world around them through interactions with other children, their parents and other family members, educators and members of the community in which they live.” (TKP 2016, p. 108)

The Belonging and Contributing Frame puts a lot of emphasis on learning about/with families and the community as part of building a sense of self and a sense of place.

As a whole, The Kindergarten Program 2016 very heavily emphasizes the importance of family and community connections by not only dedicating an entire section to this topic (3.2 Building Partnerships: Learning and Working Together p. 108 – 114) but the word family occurs 97 times and the word community occurs 100 times in the program document.

For our Open House/Curriculum Night this year we set out an invitation for parents and families to join us in creating a piece of collaborative process art to celebrate all of the beautiful families in our community that inspire and encourage our children. This collaborative mural was inspired by Suzanne Axelsson and her blog Interaction Imagination. You can read about it HERE

Parents and families are our most important allies in this program so we need to value their knowledge and welcome their experiences and expertise into our programs. I know it can be scary sometimes to open our doors to other people, but our families would absolutely LOVE to see what we do all day long. 

TKP 2016, p. 109

In the Building Partnerships section of the program document, there is a long list of suggestions for inviting parents and families to be involved in your program. Read these suggestions with a grain of salt. Not all of them will be practical for your setting or your context, but they are a starting point. 

TKP 2016, p. 110-111
One thing I hear a lot from educators is the difficulty that can arise when your school is in a community where both parents work long hours or our families are New Canadians where English is not their first language. Yes, this can make parental and family engagement difficult... but it is not impossible.

Never underestimate the power of technology!

In our classroom, we have a little mix of everything. We have English speakers, we have New Canadians learning English, we have stay at home parents, and we have working parents. This adds a little extra challenge when it comes to sharing… but we have found that Twitter has been our greatest tool for sharing with parents.

On our Twitter account, parents and families can stay current with our classroom adventures regardless of their work schedules. Twitter is highly visual so there is less issue with language barriers.

If language barriers are a difficulty in your space, use your parents as experts! Can some of your parents translate for you? Does your school have a settlement worker that can offer translators?

The school community is FULL of resources; we just need to make use of them!

TKP 2016, p. 49

The Role of the Learning Environment: The Third Teacher

Another driving force in the Belonging and Contributing Frame is the importance of a strong connection to space. As we just discussed, we can develop a strong connection to place by learning about/with our community, but we develop a connection to our space by considering the role of the learning environment, also referred to as The Third Teacher.

I have touched on this topic before in the past, if you are interested in reading about this you can read my post HERE

In that article I reference the work of the amazing Karyn Callaghan (you may recognize her name because she is EVERYWHERE in Early Childhood Education). If you are interested in reading her article "The Environment is a Teacher", you can read it HERE

She has been referenced in every one of the ‘family of early years documents’ including The Kindergarten Program 2016 (if you are unsure about what those are, you can read about them HERE in my post)

Our classroom in its initial set up in September

Some considerations for the Learning Environment: (TKP 2016, p. 29 – 34)
- educators should be working with children to display and share the children’s work  and learning in the space to celebrate students accomplishments and to provide opportunities for students to revisit and extend their learning about topics of interest

- educators should work together to create a ‘flow of the day’ that is flexible, works around school scheduling (ie. library, gym, lunch, recess times etc) to allow for large blocks of uninterrupted play with as few transitions as possible

- the environment is a living breathing space that should be changed in response to the needs of the students. Students should be involved in making changes.

- educators need to be mindful of materials in terms of what materials are made available, how many materials are available at a time, and how the children will be able to access the materials

- ‘the children’s voice’ should be evident (or at least taken into consideration) in all aspects of the space

- the learning environment extends outdoors as well. This means that children are exploring and learning from/with the natural world around them… this doesn’t necessarily mean doing inside activities outside because the weather is nice (not to say that we shouldn’t do this… but this isn’t the only way for children to learn outdoors)

TKP 2016, p. 35


Belonging and Contributing Overall Expectations 

TKP 2016, p. 125
The overall expectations, conceptual understandings (kind of like the big ideas) and the specific expectations can be found on pages 125-153.

These pages are structured the same way as in the old draft version with:

1. Overall Expectation

2. Conceptual Understanding (big idea)

3. Specific Expectations
Children: Saying, Doing, Representing
Educators: Responding, Challenging, Extending

Going Forward

Have a look at through this section and see how the expectations from the draft learning areas have come together to create this new Frame.

Where do you see the same expectations from the draft version?
What new expectations do you see?
How are you already providing opportunities for students to engage with the learning outlined in this frame?
What can you rethink, remove, replace from your program to be more in line with this new Frame?

Let’s talk,


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