eMessage Archive

Looking forward to 2023 April 28 2023

It has been a very challenging few years across the globe and the SECD team at Red River College Polytechnic wants to acknowledge all of those working tirelessly to support young children and their families and wish you well as we embark on a new year.
The learning, creativity, laughter and sheer joy of children when playing is truly an inspiration and a reminder for us all about the value of play for children’s growth, development and especially for their mental health. In our rapidly changing world, with major global challenges, play helps prepare children for the future. 
The following video provides a glimpse of children playing outdoors in Canada – it is our winter season. We hope it brings a smile to your face and encourages you to take a moment and enjoy seeing children playing, no matter where, in your region of the world.

From the SECD team, we wish you all the best in 2023.

Importance of relationships May 03 2021

2020 is a year that reminds us of the importance of relationships. Like each individual, each relationship is unique. In the first video, listen to Dr. Ann Masten, a leading expert in resilience research from the Child Development Institute at the University of Minnesota, highlight individual differences in terms of how people react to stress. Although interviewed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, her messages are especially relevant at this time.

The second video shows a mother playing with her baby, then soothing her to sleep. Just as it is important for parents to provide nurturing and responsive care - to pick up on their babies’ cues and offer support - relationships are important to people of all ages. Think about people in your family or community. What are some creative and innovative ways people are using to keep connected and be supportive during times of social distancing?

Supporting children in stressful times December 08 2020

As people around the world take extreme measures to cope in these unprecedented times, parents, caregivers, and teachers focus on how to ensure that the children “weather the storm”. The messages in the SECD videos below provide an opportunity for us to reflect on the adult’s role in helping children to manage through this global crisis. In the first video, the late Alan Mirabelli, former Executive Director of the Vanier Institute of the Family, reminds us of the lesson from the Maasai culture to think about children’s well-being as we make decisions for our communities. Second, Megan Gunnar, of the University of Minnesota, explains that children can handle challenging stressors when protected by a supportive caregiver.   

On this topic, here is a concise and informative tool from the World Health Organization - Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak

Outdoor opportunities April 01 2020

While we may picture the indoor classroom or program space when we think about environments for learning, it is important to pay equal attention to the outdoor environment and the rich opportunities it provides for learning and development. Indoors or out, a play space should provide multi-sensory experiences, provocations to explore, meaningful opportunities to use a wide variety of interesting materials and tools, time and spaces to practice and develop skills – both individually and with other children and adults.

In the first video, Sheila Williams-Ridge, from the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School at the University of Minnesota, discusses the unique opportunities of the outdoors. You will see a variety of images from their outdoor environment and hear her describe how children may react differently in outdoor spaces compared to indoor classrooms. The second video shows children enjoying a variety of outdoor activities on a cold winter day. It was filmed in Winnipeg, Manitoba at Discovery Children’s Centre, which offers a Field and Forest Nature School, for three- and four-year-old children, using the outdoors as the classroom for many hours each day. The third video, filmed in Tanzania, shows children playing in a variety of outdoor areas, with different types of materials.

How do different climate, geographical, and community factors affect the implementation of outdoor programming? What is happening in your community? What other opportunities could there be?

Partnerships February 24 2020

In order to provide family-focused and child-centred programs, it is important for all the stakeholders to work together. Stakeholders can include government officials, practitioners, researchers, families, and community members. The two videos featured below explain why broad partnerships are a key component of effective programs.
First, the Honourable Tendai Lewa Mtana, County Executive Secretary of Education and Children, describes the multi-sector approach used in Mombasa County, Kenya for a framework called, “Safer Cities Authority” that focuses on child safety. He presents a compelling argument to collapse silos that might separate sectors such as health, education, and transportation.
The second video is with Pat Furman, the Executive Director of Inspired by Wonder, an early learning and child care centre within Specialized Services for Children and Youth (SSCY), a unique facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She describes the partnership of various organizations and professionals involved in supporting children with additional support needs. Furman highlights practical examples of how this arrangement has benefited children and families. 
What examples are you aware of where individuals, departments, agencies and/or organizations have developed positive partnerships? How can you encourage and support partnerships in your context or community? 

Caregiving practicies - baby wraps & mossbags December 17 2019

Early development is shaped by minute-by-minute, day-by-day sensory input: the seeing, tasting, touching and being touched, the sounds and smells of daily life. Much of this happens through daily caregiving routines.

There is a wide variety of caregiving practices around the world, often rooted in cultural traditions and beliefs. In some North American Indigenous communities adults used moss bags and cradleboards so that a baby could be placed on a mother’s back, carried in a parent’s arms, or propped up near family members. In Africa, baby wraps were used by adults, usually mothers, to wrap and carry a baby in order to keep the baby close throughout the day. Many parents and communities still honour and promote these traditions.

The ‘baby wraps’ video is a brief collage of mothers in Mozambique, carrying and interacting with their closely wrapped babies. In the second video, Audrey Fourre, a Family Literacy Facilitator with the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre, talks about moss bags and their important role in caregiving.    

What do you see as the functions or benefits of such practices?  Are there similar practices in your family or community? How can you value and respect these and other practices that support the caregiver-child relationship that is so crucial to early development?

Reflective Practice June 18 2019

Do you use reflective practice in your interactions or work with children? Do you carefully observe children, listen to what they are saying, and pay attention to what they are doing?  Do you take time to marvel in what you notice and thoughtfully consider what you can say or do in response?  Do you gather documentation to study and then share with children and parents?  You might feel like you are constantly thinking, studying, collecting, arranging….. 

The SECD (North American Edition) includes a new section on reflective practice.  Researchers and practitioners share thoughts and insights that can enhance your reflective practice with children. The videos below are just two of many inspiring videos in the updated Communicating and Learning (CL) module. 

Deb Curtis is a renowned expert in the field who has written numerous books and articles on this and other topics. She inspires many with her practical tips and tools about observing and documenting, and how to use loose parts to create invitations for children. She reminds practitioners to slow down, pause and marvel.  In the first video below, listen to her define reflective practice and explain how she applies it to her work with young children.

Christine McLean is an Assistant Professor at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax Nova Scotia. In the second video below she describes the importance of reflection before, during and after….a perspective that is thought-provoking and worth reflecting upon!  In the CL module, McLean also describes a research project on pedagogical documentation and how to encourage children to be reflective about their learning.
Do these videos affirm your current practice?  Or perhaps they inspire you to make a change or try something new.   What steps can you take to ensure that reflection is part of your professional practice with young children?

Red River College University of Toronto AKDN - Aga Khan Development Network