Fostering children’s independence at Glebe Cooperative Nursery School

Toddlers and preschoolers learn what to do with hats and coats, an important life skill! Photo: Julie LeBlanc

By Julie LeBlanc

Toddlers and preschoolers at Glebe Cooperative Nursery School (GCNS) have been busy exploring, learning and settling into the new routines that come with a new school year. The GCNS programs are set up to support and foster independence by giving opportunities for new experiences, teaching new skills and organizing open-ended activities.

The children love starting the school day with outdoor play time. The morning bustle of activity in and around the playground provides for many natural teachable moments, from  the schoolyard filled with children at play to school buses dropping off more eager students. Children listen to and identify the sounds around them, like laughing children, the school bell chiming, dogs barking, birds chirping, horns honking and the roar of airplanes. They also watch people walk dogs, push strollers, pull wagons, ride bicycles and drive cars. Identifying these observations and sharing new experiences help increase the children’s understanding of the world around them and begin to shape the feeling of being part of a community.

Young children learn quickly and are keen to exert their independence. As GCNS children get into the swing of school life, the teachers are providing guidance, reminders and support. Children have been practising how to carry their backpacks, change between outdoor and indoor shoes, zip jackets on and off, wash their hands, tidy up after snacks, put toys away after play time and navigate the different areas of the community centre. Learning to complete these tasks independently is building confidence and a sense of responsibility in each child. The sweetest moments to witness are watching these little ones help each other!

The Glebe Cooperative Nursery School classroom is set up so children can choose where they would like to play. Play time is when teachers sit and engage with the children and extend their learning through open-ended questions and scaffolding. The teachers listen and observe during both individual and cooperative play and plan activities based on children’s interests and developmental needs. These children have enjoyed role playing in their play kitchen, building roads and bridges to drive their toy cars, splashing in the water table, experimenting with flashlights, arts and crafts, read-aloud stories and so much more. Giving the children choice in these types of open-ended activities is supporting child engagement, imagination and creativity. The children are being set up to feel empowered, independent and, most importantly, happy to be at school!

Glebe Cooperative Nursery School is a non-profit, licensed, childcare centre, offering both a Toddler Program (ages 1.5– 2.5 years) and a Preschool Program (2.5–4.5 years).

GCNS accepts new registrations throughout the school year. Visit for more information.

Julie LeBlanc is responsible for communications at Glebe Cooperative Nursery School.

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