Glebe Coop Nuersery School

Children at Glebe Co-op Nursery School, where learning happens. Photo: Helen Brydges

How does learning happen at Glebe Co-Operative Nursery School?

By Helen Brydges

Children are at the centre of everything we do at the Glebe Co-op Nursery School (GCNS). We provide positive caregiving, stimulating activities and the building of positive relationships between children, educators and families. Our program provides an environment that fosters curiosity and allows children to explore. We believe that every child deserves a safe and caring environment in which to grow and develop to their maximum potential.

Our goals for children, consistent with the Ministry of Education pedagogy How Does Learning Happen?, include the following: belonging, well-being, engagement, expression.

What does it mean to belong?

For young children to feel confident, happy, comfortable and at ease with themselves and others, including the educator, they need to first feel like the classroom environment is a place where they are invited, accepted, loved and “a part of the group.”

Educators, children, parents and caregivers are all key figures that need to be involved in contributing to every child’s sense of belonging.

How does belonging happen at GCNS?

Each day, educators and children are encouraged to value and celebrate each other’s abilities and strengths. The group environment provides educators and children with opportunities to be in tune with each other’s feelings and physical well-being, setting the stage for learning, exploring, co-operating and playing together. Children grow to understand their place in the group while they participate in activities such as group games, arts and snack time, which promote the development of lifelong skills like personal responsibility and problem solving.

What is well-being?

Well-being refers to the skills, habits and emotional awareness needed to help a child grow in a healthy, strong and emotionally balanced way. With guidance from caring adults, this involves encouraging each child to develop a positive sense of self, to make healthy choices for good mental and physical health and to adopt constructive strategies for overcoming stressful situations and the unexpected.

How is well-being encouraged at GCNS?

At GCNS our programs nurture children’s healthy development and support their growing sense of self. The GCNS program positively influences children’s physical and mental health and well-being. Children are provided with nutritious food and daily physical activity both indoors and outside. GCNS offers children choices in both quiet and active activities.

What is engagement?

Engagement is a state of being genuinely involved and interested in something. Children learn best when they are deeply engaged in what they are doing or experiencing. A child’s natural curiosity plays a big part in engagement. It leads them to explore with their bodies, minds and senses, and inspires them to ask questions, test theories, solve problems, think creatively and make meaning of the world around them. This in turn sets solid foundations for more complex and intricate learning in later life.

How do we encourage engagement at GCNS?

GCNS provides environments and experiences that engage children in active, creative and meaningful exploration, play and inquiry. Children learn best when they are fully engaged in what they are doing. By having children select activities of interest to them, it stimulates them to ask questions, engage in creative thinking, test theories and solve problems. Our educators participate as co-learners and ask questions that encourage children to think more deeply about what they are doing and stimulate their learning and curiosity. At GCNS, educators and children plan activities together based on the children’s current interests.

What is expression?

Expression refers to the ways in which a child communicates their thoughts, ideas, knowledge and feelings. Through their bodies, words and use of materials, children develop increasingly complex communication skills. It is important to understand that expression, or communication, is a two-way street. It involves being heard as well as listening. Opportunities to explore materials support creativity and problem solving. Language-rich environments support growing communication skills, which are the foundation for literacy.

How is expression encouraged at GCNS?

GCNS fosters communication and expression by providing children with an environment where they feel safe to try new things. GCNS educators connect with children by listening, responding and genuinely building on child-initiated conversations. Children are given the opportunity to express themselves through drawing, painting, building, music, games and storytelling to represent their ideas, experiences and understanding of the world. GCNS educators encourage and support creative ideas in children and build on these exchanges and experiences.

If you are interested in the Glebe Cooperative Nursery School, we offer both toddler and preschool programs. There are spaces still available for fall 2019. Inquire at

Helen Brydges is the director of the Glebe Cooperative Nursery School and is a registered early childhood educator with 30 years of experience.

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