How We Develop Our Curriculum

Each of our five Licensed Childcare Centre’s programs are unique because we develop an emergent curriculum individual to each Centre based around the interests of the children and their families in our care.  The educators from all of our Centres use their knowledge of child development, How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, and Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario Early Childhood Settings in order to develop their programming to optimize child-directed and play-based learning opportunities.

Click below for more information on Emergent Curriculum, How Does Learning Happen?, and ELECT.

Emergent Curriculum
What is Emergent Curriculum?

Emergent curriculum is a way of planning curriculum based on the children’s interests.  To plan an emergent curriculum requires observation, documentation, creative brainstorming, flexibility and patience.  There are a couple ways for the educator to discover the children’s interests.  Firstly, an educator could base emergent programming on observations of the children during play.  This is especially useful with young children that are not yet verbal.  An educator could also base programming on something a child verbally communicates.  This could be something said in passing, during a group discussion, or an overheard discussion they are having with their peers.  Once the educator sees the interest “emerging,” they brainstorm ways with the children and fellow educators to learn more about the topic.  A common technique to do this is called “webbing.”

Webbing is often used because of its playful and flexible nature.  A web doesn’t show everything that “will” be learned, it shows the many things that “could” be learned.  It is important for educators to use webbing to give them a visual of all of the learning possibilities.  Putting the activities and ideas into a web gives the educator a road map of possible journeys to take with the programming.

Emergent curriculum allows children to develop long-term projects, deep concentration and the ability to redirect themselves if they are bored or otherwise not engage in an activity.  This is fundamental to the development of the positive associations that will support learning throughout their lifespan.

Goals of Emergent Curriculum
  1. To inspire delight, curiosity, celebration and inquiry in the classroom.
  2. To build intrinsic motivation and a long-term love of learning in children.
  3. To help children craft an internal compass to guide them as a learner, rather than relying on instruction and direction from others.
  4. To inspire children to be authors, inventors, illustrators, designers, dancers, singers, actors, etc. and to celebrate their unique talents and abilities.
  5. To maintain a program that is focused on the fundamentals of how and what children learn, so it can support and guide learning as it emerges naturally inside the centre, in the natural world, and in our community as a whole.
  6. To allow the natural pace of individual and group learning to emerge, and not be guided exclusively by the clock or calendar.
  7. To help children develop cooperation, partnerships, resource-sharing, decision making, and problem-solving skills.
Why Emergent Curriculum?

This is how children learn.  They learn by doing and self-directing.  They will succeed in the future by developing a love for learning.  Their delight and spontaneous wonder will always be the first priority.

How Does Learning Happen?

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years is intended to support curriculum/program development in Early Years programs. Pedagogy is “the understanding of how learning takes place and the philosophy and practice that support that understanding of learning”. Curriculum (the content of learning) and pedagogy (how learning happens) in early years settings are shaped by views about children, educators and families, and the formation of caring and responsive relationships with each other.

An Understanding of Children, Family and Educators

How Does Learning Happen? focuses on the view of the child, family and educator.  It encourages the educator to view the child, family and self as competent, capable and rich in potential.

“Children are competent, capable of complex thinking, curious, and rich in potential. They grow up in families with diverse social, cultural, and linguistic perspectives. Every child should feel that he or she belongs, is a valuable contributor to his or her surroundings, and deserves the opportunity to succeed. When we recognize children as capable and curious, we are more likely to deliver programs and services that value and build on their strengths and abilities”.

“Families are composed of individuals who are competent and capable, curious, and rich in experience. Families love their children and want the best for them. Families are experts on their children. They are the first and most powerful influence on children’s learning, development, health, and well-being. Families bring diverse social, cultural, and linguistic perspectives. Families should feel that they belong, are valuable contributors to their children’s learning, and deserve to be engaged in a meaningful way”.

“Educators are competent and capable, curious, and rich in experience. They are knowledgeable, caring, reflective, and resourceful professionals. They bring diverse social, cultural, and linguistic perspectives. They collaborate with others to create engaging environments and experiences to foster children’s learning and development. Educators are lifelong learners. They take responsibility for their own learning and make decisions about ways to integrate knowledge from theory, research, their own experience, and their understanding of the individual children and families they work with. Every educator should feel he or she belongs, is a valuable contributor, and deserves the opportunity to engage in meaningful work”.

The Four Foundations

How Does Learning Happen? insists that every child should experience the four foundations on a daily basis because they are conditions which a child will naturally seek out for themselves.  The four foundations include, Belonging, Well-Being, Engagement, and Expression.

  • Belonging refers to the child’s connection to others. If a child feels a sense of being valued they will succeed at forming relationships with others and feel comfortable to make contributions as part of a group, a community, the natural world.
  • Well-being refers to the physical and mental health and wellness. It includes developmental capabilities, such as self-care, sense of self, and self-regulation skills.
  • Engagement is when a child is able to be involved and focused on what they are learning. Children learn best when they are able to explore the world around them with their natural curiosity. Play-based learning will support them in developing skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, and innovating.
  • Expression and communication occur through their bodies, words, and use of materials. Creating opportunities to explore materials support creativity, problem solving, and mathematical behaviours in a language-rich environment will support growing communication skills.

Focusing on these foundations throughout all aspects of curriculum planning ensures optimal learning and healthy development.

Early Learning for Every Child Today

Early Learning for Every Child Today, commonly known as ELECT, provides the groundwork for How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years.  ELECT provides a continuum of development.  It is important for educators to understand child development.  Knowledge in child development assist the educator in knowing what to typically expect in developing children which helps them to recognize signs of when a child is experiencing challenges or when his/her needs are not being met.

Principles of ELECT

Principle 1: Positive experiences in early childhood set the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour, health, and well-being.

Principle 2: Partnerships with families and communities are essential.

Principle 3: Respect for diversity, equity, and inclusion is vital.

Principle 4: An intentional, planned program supports learning.

Principle 5: Play and inquiry are learning approaches that capitalize on children’s natural curiosity and exuberance.

Principle 6: Knowledgeable, responsive, and reflective educators are essential.

Key Terms

The Continuum of Development 

The Continuum of Development describes a what a child would typically be capable of within broad domains of development.  It describes the predictable progression of social, emotional, language, cognitive and physical skills in young children.  The continuum is made up of developmental domains (link), that are broken down by root skills (link) and their indicators.


A domain is a broad area of development. ELECT focuses on the social, emotional, language, cognitive and physical domains.

Root Skills

Root skills are specific capacities, processes, abilities and competencies that exist within a domain.  Not only are they important to learn in their own right but they are considered foundations for future learning and development.


Indicators are examples of what a child knows or does to prove that the root skill is being learned or practiced.