As a CCEYA requirement, indoor and outdoor programming is posted in centre program rooms. Outdoor play is mandatory daily. A minimum of two hours of outdoor play during a full day is critical in a child’s overall development. Children must be dressed appropriately for all weather conditions. In order to ensure a child’s enjoyment for the great outdoors, parent’s are responsible for properly dressing and preparing their child for the seasonal weather conditions. This ensures children are comfortable & protected in any environment.
The playground is shared between both the toddler and preschool program so there are specified times for its use. Any day that is gauged with extreme temperatures with heat (humidex) or cold (windchill factor) alternative gross motor or physical play is planned.
CPVCSAP: Vanier Co-operative is currently developing a new Policy for its parent membership & staff alike: Outdoor Adventurous Play. The objective is to examine outdoor, riskier play options with respect to the Ministry of Education’s “How Does Learning Happen” position paper.
Recently, Vanier Co-operative parents & staff have met to discuss and develop its policy position with respect to Outdoor Play and reconnecting with naturescape elements. In the conversation, the group projected preferred and developmentally appropriate play yard ideas, brainstorming of activities and overall improvements for a 2 year plan beginning in 2018. The benefits of sharing a joint play yard for Toddler & Preschool children are critical in the planning phase.
The ideas were completed by engaging all parents, children & staff to participate in a “dotmocracy” whereby the group “voted” and choose their most popular opinions that are all rooted in child development, Canadian Safety Standards for health & well-being of the children as well as nature based play opportunities. The number one improvement identified from children & parents was the installation of a slide. By creating a man-made berm (small knoll) from recycled tires, top soil and cedar mulch allows the children to use a top level slide that is built into the berm which prevents “climbing” onto a play structure, but encourages the child to climb up a hill and down the slide.
During COVID-19 temporary closure period of March 15-June 26, 2020, childcare services for Vanier Co-operative allowed planning a work list of maintenance projects, long saught after dreams and redefined quadrants of self-directed interest for young children’s play. Understanding that outdoor play would be increased to address the pandemic measures and infection prevention strategies motivated a group of staff to come in weekly to redesign, clean and repair its designated play space.
Vanier’s program teams viewed the pandemic as an ideal opportunity to devise its work plan for its internal yard anticipating the children’s return. Small projects such reinventing the water area and its water/ball pipe panel, symbolic play, soft, comfortable places, resurfacing around the 10X10 sandbox, seating design and organic gardening were all employed. Garden containers from recycled tires of zinnas, sunflowers, cosmos, lilies, ferns, nasturtiums were grown from seeds and/or transplants in the garden box to create a balanced greenery of the yard where grass was replaced by cedar mulch.
A trellis fort of morning glory vines & trumpets arches near the sandbox for small friends to hide beneath or eat snack on the picnic tables near by together add to the warmth of play yard. Collaboration, team work and commitment to the children has guided the work efforts and beautiful results. The silver lining of an unpredictable, dangerous back drop of the pandemic a gem or better, a secret garden in Vanier’s east end!!