alpha discovery club

Day Care / Preschool

Navigating Cold and Flu Season

Navigating Cold and Flu Season

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

As parents, we all want our little ones to stay healthy and happy. However, it’s no secret that young children can be particularly susceptible to colds and the flu. If your child attends daycare, you may have noticed that illnesses seem to make their rounds quite frequently, particularly for those in the 12-18 month age group. This may raise concerns among parents, but it’s essential to understand the underlying cause.

Here at Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we provide an environment where children come together to learn, play, and interact. While these interactions are incredibly valuable for their social and emotional development, they also mean that children are exposed to more germs and viruses than they would be at home.

But believe it or not, this early exposure to various illnesses can be beneficial in the long run. Our immune systems learn by doing. When children are exposed to viruses, their immune systems learn to recognize and fight them off. This exposure helps build their immunity, making them less susceptible to similar illnesses in the future.

Although no parent wants to see their child sick, young children often bounce back from illnesses more quickly than adults. Their bodies are primed to recover swiftly, which means that while they may experience more illnesses, these illnesses tend to be milder and shorter in duration. It’s all part of the learning process their immune systems go through.

hand washing

Cold and Flu Prevention

That said, as we approach cold and flu season, there are some things we do at each of our locations to help prevent the spread of illness. One of the most effective ways to minimize the spread of illnesses is through proper hygiene. Hand washing is a crucial practice that we encourage among both children and staff. Our daycare facilities are equipped with sanitation stations, and our dedicated team ensures that children wash their hands frequently throughout the day.

Nutrition also plays a significant role in building a robust immune system.  We believe that nutrition plays such a large role in our children’s development that nutrition (and physical activity) is one of our 4 Pillars of Learning, in addition to Language & Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), and Mindful Awareness. We focus on providing balanced meals and snacks that support your child’s health and well-being, as a well-nourished body is better equipped to fight off infections.

In addition, we maintain open lines of communication with parents. If your child isn’t feeling well, we need to know. By keeping sick children at home, we can help prevent the spread of illnesses within our daycare community.

Preparing for Cold and Flu Season

As a parent, there are several steps you can take to prepare for cold and flu season and help keep your child healthy:

  1. Teach Good Hygiene: Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Teach them to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, ideally with a tissue or their elbow.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Diet: Provide your child with a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support their immune system.
  3. Get Plenty of Rest: Ensure your child gets enough sleep as it plays a vital role in immune system function.
  4. Consider Probiotics: Some studies suggest that probiotics may help boost the immune system. Consult with your pediatrician or family doctor before adding any supplements to your child’s diet.
  5. Stay Informed: Keep yourself informed about current health guidelines and recommendations, especially during cold and flu season.
  6. Get Some Vitamin C and D – Whether it is by natural method (sun/oranges) or supplements, it’s important to get these vitamins.

While it’s common for children to experience more illnesses in daycare settings, it’s part of their natural immune system development. Alpha’s Discovery Kids is committed to creating a supportive and healthy environment for your child, and we encourage parents to partner with us in supporting wellness initiatives. By teaching good hygiene practices, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and staying informed, you can help your child stay resilient and thrive, even during cold and flu season.

 

For more information about topics related to the early years, check out my YouTube videos at or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ .

 

 

 

Cultivating Healthy Bodies and Minds: The Importance of Physical Activity & Nutrition for Children

Cultivating Healthy Bodies and Minds: The Importance of Physical Activity & Nutrition for Children

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

As an Early Childhood Educator and a mother, my life’s mission has always been clear: to provide children with the best possible start in life. I deeply understand the significance of nurturing every facet of a child’s development. This unwavering commitment led me to create a comprehensive educational framework known as the Four Pillars of Learning.

The Four Pillars of Learning, prominently displayed in every classroom across our three Alpha’s Discovery Kids locations, ensure that children have access to a well-rounded education. These pillars address a child’s physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being and comprise Language & Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), Physical Activity & Nutrition, and Mindful Awareness.

In today’s world, where childhood obesity is on the rise, it’s crucial that we take a proactive approach to children’s health. This proactive approach begins with education, instilling the importance of physical activity and nutrition right from birth.

 

Physical Activity: Building Strong Bodies and Minds

Physical activity isn’t just about keeping the body in motion; it’s about nurturing the mind and promoting emotional well-being. The benefits of physical activity extend beyond the physical; they encompass mental and emotional health as well. Engaging in physical activities can improve bodily functions, elevate mood, and promote the healthy development of bones and muscles.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we recognize the importance of physical activity in the early years. We firmly believe that building a foundation for physical well-being early in life can positively impact a child’s entire existence.

In early childhood, children are naturally active, curious, and fearless. They have a genuine willingness to explore and discover their own abilities. This is a crucial time for them to have opportunities to climb, run, crawl, dance, jump, balance, and engage in a multitude of activities. These activities not only build physical strength but also foster self-confidence, coordination, and concentration right from an early age.

In our daycare setting, we wholeheartedly embrace the significance of physical activity, both indoors and outdoors. We understand that children need a variety of movements to support their growth and development. Whether it’s gross motor skills, involving larger muscles and movements, or fine motor skills, which focus on smaller muscle groups like fingers learning to grip a pencil, we ensure that both are a part of the daily routine.

For gross motor skills, we often engage in activities like engineering with building blocks or encouraging kids to run and play outside. Fine motor skills are honed through activities such as threading beads or playing with playdough. This comprehensive approach ensures that children are developing both their larger muscle groups and their fine motor control.

meal planning

Nutrition: Fueling Healthy Lives

In tandem with physical activity, proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in a child’s development. At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we embrace family-style dining, where children sit together at a table with a teacher, and are encouraged to be independent. This approach brings several benefits. It empowers children to portion their meals themselves, fostering a sense of self-regulation and helping in the battle against childhood obesity.

Furthermore, family-style dining exposes children to a balanced menu with foods from all food groups, ensuring they receive the essential vitamins and minerals they need. Variety is at the core of our nutritional philosophy. We encourage children to explore various foods from diverse cultures, expanding their palates and discovering different flavors, textures, and tastes. Our emphasis is on whole foods with minimal processing, a fundamental principle in our approach to nutrition.

Setting a positive example is of utmost importance. Children often emulate the eating habits of adults, so we, as caregivers, should strive to be good role models. We should not only focus on what we eat but also how we eat and when we eat. Involving children in meal preparation, from setting the table to selecting fruits and vegetables during grocery shopping, gives them a sense of involvement and helps them understand where their food comes from.

In addition, teaching children to recognize proper portion sizes will help guide them on how to satisfy their hunger without overeating or undereating. This sets the stage for a healthy relationship with food that can last a lifetime.

The Physical Activity & Nutrition pillar at Alpha’s Discovery Kids is not merely a program; it’s a way of life. We are passionate about nurturing children’s physical well-being through a combination of active play and nutritious eating. We firmly believe that by instilling these healthy habits from a young age, we are laying the foundation for a lifetime of well-being and success. Every child in our care is treated as an extended part of our own families, and their health and happiness are our top priorities.

 

For more information, or to book a tour, please contact us!

The Importance of Socialization for Young Children: Nurturing Minds and Hearts

The Importance of Socialization for Young Children: Nurturing Minds and Hearts

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we are passionate about providing children with an environment where they can learn, grow, and thrive. And we deeply understand the paramount importance of socialization in a child’s early years. It’s not merely about play; it’s a foundational element of a child’s development that shapes their future in profound ways. We recognize that children are inherently social beings, wired to connect, learn, and grow through interaction with their peers and caregivers.

As a parent myself, I understand how crucial socialization is to nurturing empathy, honing communication skills and learning the art of human interaction. In the ever-evolving landscape of early childhood education, we understand that the first six years of a child’s life are the most formative. It’s during this period that a child’s brain is in a state of rapid development, absorbing knowledge, experiences, and social cues like a sponge. As Early Childhood Educators, we are not merely caretakers; we are shapers of young minds and hearts.

To us, socialization is not a byproduct of our curriculum but an integral part of it. Alpha’s Discovery Kids understands that every child is unique, and their social needs vary. Some children may thrive in a bustling social environment, while others may need more gradual and individualized socialization experiences. Our approach is flexible, recognizing and respecting these differences, allowing each child to bloom at their own pace.

mask

The effects of COVID-19 on socialization

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for children’s socialization. Social distancing measures, mask mandates, and lockdowns disrupted the traditional avenues for social interaction. Many children missed out on the crucial social experiences that daycare and preschool settings offer. Here are some of the effects we observed during this challenging period:

  1. Insecure Attachment Issues: When young children are unable to establish secure attachments due to limited social interaction, it can have devastating consequences for their emotional well-being. Secure attachments form the basis of healthy relationships later in life.
  2. Excessive Crying: Inconsolable crying can be a sign of distress caused by a lack of socialization. Children need the comforting presence of caregivers and peers to feel safe and secure.
  3. Language Delays: Language development relies heavily on social interaction. With masks obscuring our facial expressions and limiting verbal communication, we noticed that language delays became more prevalent among young children.

The Importance of Early Socialization

The longer children are isolated from social experiences, the harder it can be to reintegrate them into social settings like daycare. A 3-year-old who has been isolated for an extended period may face more significant challenges than a 12-month-old in adjusting to group environments. Early socialization sets the stage for a child’s future interactions and relationships, making it a critical aspect of their development.

Three dedicated and happy young mothers sitting together on the floor, while watching their babies playing with safe multicolored toys at a modern playground for infants

Alpha’s Discovery Kids has observed significant advantages associated with socialization, and these benefits extend beyond full-time care. Even part-time attendance provides numerous advantages. Here are some of the benefits of socializing at daycare:

  • Emotional Development: Children learn to identify and manage their emotions through interactions with peers and caregivers. They develop empathy, conflict resolution skills, and a sense of belonging.
  • Cognitive Growth: Social play fosters cognitive development. Children engage in problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking as they interact with others.
  • Language Skills: Daily interactions with peers and teachers help improve language skills. Children learn to communicate effectively, expanding their vocabulary and language fluency.
  • Independence: Socialization encourages independence. Children learn to make choices, solve problems, and take initiative in a supportive environment.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, every child in our care is treated as an extended part of our own families. We provide a nurturing and stimulating environment where socialization is a central focus. Our dedicated teachers, who are always patient, caring, and committed to making each child’s experience the best it can be, facilitate social interactions that promote growth and development.

We believe that socialization is not a luxury but a necessity for young children’s development. The pandemic underscored its significance, reminding us that socialization is vital for emotional, cognitive, and social growth. At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we remain dedicated to providing a safe and enriching environment where children can thrive through socialization, guided by our Four Pillars of Learning. We are committed to empowering the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, one social interaction at a time.

For more information about how to use the Four Pillars of Learning system, check out Susie’s book, Learn To Play: The Four Pillars Learning System on Amazon.

For more information on early childhood topics, check out my YouTube series, or to book a tour, please contact us.

Unlocking the Wonders of STEAM: Embracing the Power of Math

Unlocking the Wonders of STEAM: Embracing the Power of Math

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we are passionate about providing a nurturing and enriching learning environment where children can thrive.

As advocates of STEAM education, we wholeheartedly embrace the power of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math in shaping well-rounded individuals. Our commitment to excellence lies in infusing STEAM concepts throughout our curriculum, empowering young minds with essential skills and fostering a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.

And that’s why we created our unique and comprehensive approach to education, centered around the “The Four Pillars of Learning.” These pillars serve as the foundation of our curriculum, ensuring that every child’s physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being is nurtured and supported.

The 4 Pillars of Learning consist of Language & Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), Physical Activity & Nutrition, and Mindful Awareness. Each pillar is carefully designed to complement and reinforce one another, creating a holistic learning experience that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and a growth mindset in our young learners.

By embracing these four pillars, we aim to provide a well-rounded education that prepares children not only for academic success but also for personal growth and success in all aspects.

When it comes to Math, it is more than just numbers and equations. Math is a fundamental tool for understanding the world around us. From counting and measuring to problem-solving and critical thinking, math plays an integral role in shaping a child’s cognitive abilities and analytical skills.

Math is an important part of a child’s development from ages 1 to 5 years. During this time, children explore patterns, shapes, sizes, and counting and encounter math concepts in their everyday activities, from counting cars on the road to the number of plates on the table.

However, math can be daunting for both kids and parents. That’s why we believe in teaching math in a visual and hands-on way. For example, when we say 1 plus 1 equals 2, it’s easier to understand when we can see and touch objects to represent those numbers. We want children to experience math in a concrete way, so they truly grasp its concepts.

Math is all around us, and it’s essential to make it approachable and enjoyable for everyone. Some important math skills that we focus on here at Alpha’s Discover Kids include:

Numeracy skills – Skills like counting are among the first things children learn. Many children learn to count from 1 to 10 by age three. We encourage counting everyday objects in a hands-on way to help them grasp the concept. Once children start to understand the concept of counting, you can introduce written numbers so they learn to associate the written form with the concept.

Problem-solving – Another essential math skill is problem-solving, although this can be a tricky concept for many kids. We support children in their problem-solving process without doing it for them. By using number concepts and skills, we help them develop confidence in their own ability to think things through.

Measurement – Measurement is an exciting aspect of math. Children can explore time, weight, distance, length, height, and width in various activities.

Classification –  Classification is a fun game where children sort and classify objects based on different characteristics like shape, size, or colour.

To incorporate math into everyday activities, we sort various items into baskets, provide objects to count while filling and emptying containers, and make number figures from play dough. These activities make math a part of their daily fun, helping children build essential math skills while having a great time.

We aim to instill a love for Math by making it accessible, enjoyable, and applicable to the real world. We foster a growth mindset, where children embrace challenges, ask questions, and take risks in their mathematical explorations.

For more information about how to use the Four Pillars of Learning system, check out Susie’s book, Learn To Play: The Four Pillars Learning System on Amazon.

For more information about Alpha’s Discovery Kids, or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ or call us at 905-823-8257.

 

Understanding Separation Anxiety: Navigating Emotions and Building Resilience

Understanding Separation Anxiety: Navigating Emotions and Building Resilience

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

As a mother of 2 children and owner of Alpha’s Discovery Kids, I am all too familiar with separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety is a normal part of a child’s development, marked by distress when they are separated from their primary caregiver or a familiar environment. During this phase (which usually peaks between 8-18 months), children may become clingy, cry, or show signs of distress when a parent or caregiver leaves their sight.

Although this stage can be especially trying for parents, separation anxiety is actually a sign of a strong bond between the child and their caregiver. It’s also normal for us parents to experience a bit of separation anxiety when we have to leave our child!           

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we understand the challenges that come with separation anxiety, both for children and parents. Our experienced and caring team is here to provide the support and guidance needed to ease the transition during this phase.

Understanding separation anxiety is the first step towards easing the stress that often comes with this stage of a child’s development.

separation anxiety

Communication is Key

Communication is key during this phase. Explaining to our children what will happen while we are apart and when we will return helps them understand that separations are temporary. Showing confidence and trust when leaving them with other caregivers or in new environments comforts our little ones, reinforcing that they are safe and loved.

Empathy and validation of their emotions are vital. Letting them know it’s okay to feel sad or scared when apart and offering words of comfort, reassurance, and understanding assures them that it’s natural to miss someone they love. We are always there for them, no matter the distance.

 Establish a consistent routine

As parents, we want to provide the best support for our little ones as they navigate their emotions during separations.

One way to ease separation anxiety is by having a routine. A consistent and predictable routine helps children feel secure and prepared for upcoming separations. By providing comfort and reassurance before leaving and upon returning, your child will have a sense of safety, stability, and reassurance that we will always return.

As you drop off your child at daycare, we encourage parents to let the teachers do what they are trained to do.  As difficult as it is to leave, I know from experience that most often, within 10-15 minutes of parents walking out the door,  their child will calm down and be distracted by their peers, toys or activities going on in the classroom.

Stay Calm and Patient (and set a positive tone)

Separation anxiety can be challenging for both children and parents. But parents need to understand they are the ones who set the tone. You want this to be a positive experience which means you, as the parent, need to approach separating in a positive way. If you have any negative feelings or apprehensions, your child will pick up on this.

Staying calm and patient during moments of distress is essential for both children and parents. Remember, this phase is a normal part of their development, and will pass with time.

Encouraging their independence in exploring their environment and trying new things builds their confidence, making separations less anxious. And by fostering interactions with other trusted adults and children in safe and enjoyable settings, you can allow these connections to help your child feel secure in various environments.

Provide a familiar item

Building a safe and welcoming environment is another essential aspect. Surrounding our children with familiar objects, toys, or comfort items offers them a sense of security even when they are away from us. Sending your child with a keepsake item that reminds them of you and being at home will make the separation much easier.  This item could be a photo, favourite toy or stuffed animal.

Gradual Goodbyes

When it’s time to say goodbye, keep it brief and positive. Prolonged goodbyes can make the separation more challenging for both you and your child. Reassure them that you will be back soon and give them a loving hug or kiss before leaving.

Consistency is essential in helping children feel secure during separations. Try to maintain a regular schedule and routine as much as possible. Consistency can give children a sense of predictability and stability, reducing anxiety.

Seek Support if Needed

Remember, separation anxiety is a natural part of growing up, and with patience, understanding, and support, children can navigate this phase successfully. By offering comfort, reassurance, and gentle transitions, we can help our children develop resilience and emotional security, setting the stage for confident and independent individuals in the future.

Watch our YouTube video for more strategies and support during this difficult time. 

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we strive to make the transition during separation anxiety as smooth as possible for both children and parents. Through a nurturing environment, consistent routines, and supportive educators, we help children feel secure and confident while their parents are away.

Our focus on building positive relationships, encouraging independence, and offering open communication creates a caring community where children can thrive and grow. With our dedicated team by their side, children can navigate separation anxiety with resilience and emotional well-being, setting the foundation for a positive and fulfilling early childhood experience.

 

For more information on our 4 Pillars of Learning, or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ or call us at 905-823-8257.

 

 

 

Unlocking Creativity and Expression: The Essential Role of Art in STEAM Education

Unlocking Creativity and Expression: The Essential Role of Art in STEAM Education

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

“Art is about letting go” – Susie Beghin

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, our mission is to create a nurturing and safe space where every child feels at home. We understand the significance of holistic education, especially during the formative years of early childhood. As young minds develop rapidly, we recognize the importance of providing the best learning environment to support their growth and development.

Childhood is a time of exploration, curiosity, and boundless creativity. That’s why we believe in child-initiated and teacher-supported learning experiences that encourage children to be active participants in their education. Our commitment to fostering a love of learning led us to develop the Four Pillars of Learning: Language & Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), Physical Activity & Nutrition, and Mindful Awareness.

While traditional STEM education focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, we believe that incorporating the Arts (A) into the equation is vital. The Arts, in the context of STEAM, play a transformative role in nurturing creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills in children.

art

Art is often misunderstood or underappreciated as a vital component of learning. Some may view art as an extra-curricular activity or mere creative play, not realizing its significant contributions to a child’s development. However, we firmly believe that art is not just about drawing or painting; it is about the creative process and fostering imagination.

For instance, art and creativity are fundamental to engineering. Engineers need to think outside the box, innovate, and find solutions to complex problems. Art allows children to think creatively, develop original ideas, and view challenges from various perspectives, which are essential skills for future engineers.

Art is also a process-oriented activity rather than a product-oriented one. It encourages children to explore their imagination, experiment with different materials, and express themselves freely. The act of creating art builds fine motor skills as children learn to hold crayons and paintbrushes. Through art, they learn to communicate their thoughts and emotions, developing their language and self-expression abilities.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we emphasize the importance of providing opportunities for children to engage in art freely. There should be no pressure to create a specific end product; instead, we focus on allowing children to explore and experiment with materials independently. Art is about letting go, embracing creativity, and embracing the joy of the process itself.

There are countless art ideas that children can explore, from painting and drawing to molding and collage-making. We provide various materials, such as markers, child-safe scissors, paint, glue, feathers, and pompoms, to ignite children’s imagination and creativity. By providing open-ended materials, we empower children to choose how they want to participate and let their creativity flow.

We also integrate art with other STEAM components to create a multidimensional learning experience. For instance, while making an animal out of clay (art), we can build the animal’s home (engineering), learn about its characteristics (science), find pictures of the animal on the computer (technology), and measure its size (math). This interdisciplinary approach enhances children’s understanding and application of knowledge. You can find out more about how to incorporate art into STEAM in Susie’s book, Learn To Play.

art

Art is not just crafts; it goes beyond following instructions and specific outcomes. We emphasize the process of making art, encouraging children to explore different materials and techniques. For instance, instead of merely painting on paper, we might encourage children to paint with a straw on a cardboard box, adding multiple dimensions to the experience.

Incorporating the Arts into STEAM education allows us to nurture creativity, self-expression, and problem-solving skills in children. It sets the stage for future innovation and exploration, fostering a love of learning that lasts a lifetime. At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we celebrate art as a vital aspect of our holistic approach to education, empowering children to become confident, creative, and compassionate individuals.

 

For more information on our Four Pillars of Learning, or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ or call us at 905-823-8257.

Announcing my new YouTube Channel

Announcing my new YouTube Channel – @Susie-Alphas

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

As an educator and a mother of two wonderful kids, I understand the challenges and joys of parenting firsthand. Over the years, I have encountered numerous questions from parents seeking guidance on a wide range of topics related to early childhood. Whether it’s dealing with a toddler’s constant “no,” managing separation anxiety or finding the right daycare, I have heard it all.

And my experience ultimately led me to write my book,  ‘Learn To Play,’ where I used the knowledge I have gained as an ECE educator and mother to create our unique curriculum, The Four Pillars of Learning. My goal is to share this teaching method with parents and educators as a tool for learning at home and in the child care setting.

And now, I am adding a new way of sharing information with parents. I am thrilled to announce the launch of my new YouTube channel, @Susie-Alphas. I created this platform to address your burning questions and concerns about early childhood and to provide a go-to resource for reliable information. My hope for this endeavor is to help parents navigate the early years, and that’s precisely what I aim to do with this channel.

The information on early childhood is scattered across the internet, making it challenging for parents to find comprehensive and reliable answers to their specific questions. In launching this YouTube channel, I aim to create a focal point where parents can turn to for valuable insights and practical advice on various aspects of early childhood.

One of the driving forces behind @Susie-Alphas is to provide real answers to real questions from real parents. I encourage you to send in your questions, and each week, I will address a new question in a video. Your questions are what make this channel truly valuable, as they reflect the concerns and interests of parents just like you. If a question or concern arises frequently, you can expect a video on that topic because if it’s essential to you, it’s essential to me as well.

As you explore the @Susie-Alphas YouTube channel, you’ll also find links to my book, ‘Learn To Play,‘ which serves as a comprehensive guide for parents and caregivers. It delves deeper into various aspects of early childhood, providing you with more in-depth knowledge and understanding.

My aim is to inform, support, and empower parents on their journey through the early years. Some of the topics I plan to cover include mom guilt, building confidence in your child’s environment, managing toddler behaviour, handling separation anxiety, finding the right daycare, addressing biting behaviour, navigating potty training and nutrition.

However, the journey doesn’t end here. I want to hear from you! What else do you want to know about early childhood? Let me know your burning questions, and I’ll make sure to address them in upcoming videos.

I firmly believe that the @Susie-Alphas YouTube channel will allow parents to come together in this virtual space, creating a supportive community where we share similar experiences, challenges, and triumphs.

Don’t forget to subscribe to @Susie-Alphas on YouTube and hit the notification bell so you never miss a video. Together, let’s navigate the early years and create a strong and supportive community of parents who are ready to embrace the joys and challenges of parenting.

 

For more information on our 4 Pillars of Learning, or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ or call us at 905-823-8257.

 

Engineering in the Early Years

Four Pillars Of Learning – Pillar #2 – STEAM (Engineering edition)

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

My mission has always been to provide children with the best possible start in life and help them develop the critical skills they need to thrive.

When I began writing my book, ‘Learn To Play,’ my primary goal was to use the experiences and knowledge I have gained as an ECE educator and mother. It was also a way for me to document our daycare curriculum and make it accessible to parents everywhere! 

The Four Pillars of Learning is a comprehensive program that addresses a child’s physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It comprises Language & Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math), Physical Activity & Nutrition, and Mindful Awareness.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, these pillars are prominently displayed in every classroom across our three locations, and our goal is to ensure children have access to a well-rounded education while learning in a meaningful (and fun) way.

preschool class

Pillar 2 – STEAM – E is for Engineering 

One of the pivotal parts of STEAM is engineering, but when people hear the term ‘engineering,’ they often think it’s something that young children cannot do. However, I use the term intentionally because engineering is precisely what these children do. “Engineering is the process by which young children discover how things in their world are built, and how they work”.

One of the ways we teach engineering in our classrooms is through dedicated and specific areas for construction and building activities. In my last blog, we detailed the integral part that loose parts play in children using their creativity and imagination while learning.

And alongside loose parts, we incorporate materials such as blocks, which hold a special place in my heart. The reason I love blocks is that they are open-ended and allow children to create anything they desire, promoting imagination and creativity. In engineering in our classrooms, we have and use blocks of all sizes, which encourage stacking, sorting, connecting, and disconnecting.

When children engage in engineering activities, they often gravitate towards building tall towers. There is a sense of accomplishment in constructing something tall, even if it only lasts for a few seconds before being knocked down. Both the act of building and knocking down are significant learning experiences, as it allows children to explore concepts of balance, size, and structure as they figure out how to make their towers taller and more stable.

engineering

In engineering, we also shift our focus from the end product to the process itself. Instead of dictating what children should create, we provide them with materials and let them decide how to use them. The learning lies not in making a specific object but in gaining insights into size, balance, and cooperation. Engineering becomes a cooperative activity where children work together, negotiate, and problem-solve as they construct and interact with their creations.

The construction area of our classrooms also serves as a hub for social skill development. Children learn to collaborate with their peers, navigate conflicts, and share ideas. They face situations where they need to communicate their preferences and make decisions collectively. It’s an environment that fosters cooperation and encourages children to develop essential social and emotional skills.

The construction area is often our classrooms’ most popular and well-utilized space. Children are drawn to the joy of building and creating. It is a place where their imaginations come alive, they have the freedom to experiment, and they can engage in hands-on learning experiences. As a result, we allocate significant space to this area, recognizing its importance in promoting exploration, creativity, and problem-solving.

Through our focus on engineering, we strive to instill a sense of wonder and curiosity in children. We want them to understand that the process of building and creating is just as valuable as the end result. By embracing engineering in early childhood education, we provide children with opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, expand their imaginations, and foster cooperative relationships.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we are committed to cultivating a love for learning and empowering children to become lifelong learners. Our Four Pillars of Learning, including the exploration of engineering through STEAM, form the foundation of our curriculum. Through these pillars, we create an environment where children can grow, explore, and discover their talents.

 

For more information on our 4 Pillars of Learning, or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ or call us at 905-823-8257.

 

Unlocking Creativity And Imagination Using Loose Parts

Unlocking Creativity And Imagination Using Loose Parts

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we believe in fostering a creative and imaginative environment for children, where learning extends beyond traditional toys and structured activities. That’s why we are reintroducing an exciting element to our curriculum—”loose parts”.

“Loose parts” are open-ended materials, which include items such as boxes, tubes, string, rocks, corks, paper clips, marbles and jar lids (just to name a few), have the potential to transform the way children engage with their surroundings, enhancing their critical thinking, problem-solving, and imaginative skills.

We have been inspired to reintroduce loose parts back into our curriculum after conducting some research that emphasized their profound impact on children’s learning and development.

We are in the process of building our loose parts repository, which involves collecting a diverse range of materials from various sources, including a recycling center in Mississauga. We are also encouraging parents to contribute loose parts that they have around the home, allowing us to create a wide array of materials that align with our curriculum and projects.

loose parts fine motor

How we use loose parts in the classroom

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, our Four Pillars of Learning—Language/Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), physical activity/nutrition, and mindful awareness—form the foundation of our curriculum.

And incorporating loose parts into our curriculum opens up a world of possibilities for children’s learning experiences. We strategically select loose parts based on their connection to our curriculum pillars. For example, natural loose parts align with our science activities, recycled materials find their place in art projects, and boxes become a part of our engineering explorations.

The introduction of loose parts sparks a sense of wonder and discovery in children. Unlike commercial toys with predefined functions, loose parts invite children to use their creativity and imagination. A simple box can instantly transform into a spaceship, a house, or a magical kingdom. This open-ended nature allows children to explore, experiment, and engage in critical thinking as they repurpose and reimagine these materials.

The benefits of using loose parts as part of our 4 Pillars Curriculum

All our educators recently attended a company training day focusing on “loose parts”. We have already begun incorporating loose parts into our activities, and the response from children has been incredible. For instance, when we introduced a box into a sensory bin, children were immediately drawn to it. They started exploring its potential, filling it with objects and experimenting with ways to interact with it. The teachers even created a tunnel with a roof using boxes, and the children had so much fun crawling and walking through it. These experiences exemplify how loose parts can transform the classroom environment and ignite children’s curiosity and engagement.

The beauty of loose parts lies in their ability to adapt and evolve. They provide endless opportunities for children to collaborate, problem-solve, and co-create with their peers and teachers.

By incorporating loose parts into our curriculum, we encourage children to think outside the box (literally!) and develop vital skills that go beyond academic knowledge. Loose parts stimulate their imagination, boost their confidence, and nurture their holistic development.

As we continue to expand our loose parts collection and incorporate them into our activities, we are excited to witness the transformative impact they will have on our children’s learning journeys. We invite parents to join us on this exciting adventure, contributing to our loose parts repository and embracing the endless possibilities that these materials offer.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we are committed to providing an environment where children can explore, create, and grow, nurturing their potential to become anything they desire. So together, let’s celebrate the power of loose parts and their ability to unlock creativity, imagination, and critical thinking skills in young minds.

 

For more information on our 4 Pillars of Learning, or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ or call us at 905-823-8257.

Young Children and Technology

Young Children and Technology 

by Susie Beghin, RECE, Founder of Alpha’s Discovery Kids

 

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we recognize the world is an ever-changing place.  And with technology continuing to evolve in leaps and bounds, our young children are even more technologically advanced than we could have ever imagined.

This is part of the reason why I wrote my book, ‘Learn To Play’. I wanted to share my knowledge and learnings that I have personally acquired during my time as an ECE educator and a mother. It is important that I share what I know about how children learn with other parents.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, we teach kids using our 4 Pillars of Learning curriculum in a way that is playful and fun. Our 4 Pillars of Learning include: Language & Literacy, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), Physical Activity & Nutrition and Mindful Awareness. When I was developing the 4 Pillars, I wanted to ensure I created a program that meets a child’s needs from physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual well-being.

In this article, I want to focus on technology and how it can play a valuable role in young children’s development.

Technology (the second part of STEAM)

Technology is at the core of mostly everything we do nowadays.  When we hear the word “technology,” the first thing that often comes to mind is screen time. However, at our daycare, technology is so much more than that. We embrace technology as a tool that enhances learning, fosters parent involvement, and creates exciting opportunities for children to explore the world around them.

Technology as a Resource Tool:

In our classrooms, we utilize iPads as resource tools, opening up a world of knowledge to young minds. For example, when learning about the solar system, we can access captivating videos that visually depict the planets, enabling us to teach complex concepts in an engaging and interactive manner. Technology becomes a catalyst for exploration and discovery, enhancing the learning experience for our children.

technology and kids

Connecting with Experts and Resources:

Through technology, we have access to a wealth of experts and resources. Whether it’s inviting guest speakers via video conferences or conducting virtual field trips, we can bring diverse perspectives and experiences directly into our classrooms. Technology enables us to expand our horizons and expose children to a vast array of knowledge and expertise.

Communication and Parent Involvement:

One of the most remarkable benefits of technology in our daycare is the ability to record and share children’s daily activities. Through our app, HiMama, we capture videos, photos, and data, documenting each child’s progress, meals, sleep patterns, bathroom breaks, and educational milestones. This instant and real-time information empowers parents to stay involved in their child’s daily life, creating a strong connection between the daycare and home.

kids using technologyResearch and Exploration:

Technology serves as a gateway to endless knowledge. When children have questions or curiosities, we can use technology to conduct research together. For instance, if we want to delve into the fascinating world of polar bears, we can easily access factual information, statistics, and even watch videos about their habitats and behaviors. This interactive approach instills a love for learning and nurtures children’s natural curiosity.

 

Creativity and Play:

Technology also has a role in fostering creativity and imaginative play. We incorporate music into our classrooms, utilizing technology to play songs and create a lively atmosphere. Additionally, we encourage children to explore their creativity by using technology to record and produce their own little videos, allowing them to express themselves and share their experiences with others.

At Alpha’s Discovery Kids, technology is not a mindless tool for entertainment; it is a purposeful and valuable asset that enriches the learning environment and strengthens the bond between parents, children, and educators.

We harness the power of technology to empower children, promote active learning, and create a sense of involvement and collaboration among parents. Technology opens doors to a world of knowledge, ensuring that our children are equipped with the skills and curiosity needed to thrive in the digital age.

By combining multiple aspects of STEAM every single day, our educators at Alpha’s Discovery Kids are able to teach multiple concepts in one lesson. And STEAM is a pivotal part of this learning.

For more information on our 4 Pillars of Learning, or to book a tour, please contact us at https://www.alphasdiscoveryclub.com/contact/ or call us at 905-823-8257.