Program Philosophy

Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) is a guide to support curriculum and pedagogy in Ontario’s early childhood settings, including nursery schools. ELECT complements, rather than replaces, specific curricular and pedagogical approaches, early identification protocols and regulated requirements now in place in Ontario early childhood settings. It features a continuum of developmental skills and a shared language that will support early childhood practitioners and caregivers as they work together across early childhood settings.

ELECT brings together established research findings and diverse perspectives, beliefs and recommended practices. It recognizes that families, communities and cultures hold distinct values about how your children should experience and interact with the world around them.

  • Early child development sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health.
  • Partnerships with families and communities strengthen the ability of early childhood settings to meet the needs of young children.
  • Respect for diversity, equity and inclusion are prerequisites for honouring children’s rights, optimal development and learning.
  • A planned curriculum supports early learning.
  • Play is a means to early learning that capitalizes on children’s natural curiosity and exuberance.
  • Knowledgeable, responsive early childhood professionals are essential.

The ELECT document can be found at


The Four Foundations of How Does Learning Happen? Pedagogy

How Does Learning Happen? is organized around four foundational conditions that are important for children to grow and flourish: Belonging, Well-Being, Engagement, and Expression. These foundations, or ways of being, are a vision for all children’s future potential and a view of what they should experience each and every day. These four foundations apply regardless of age, ability, culture, language, geography, or setting. They are aligned with the Kindergarten program. They are conditions that children naturally seek for themselves.

Belonging refers to a sense of connectedness to others, an individual’s experiences of being valued, of forming relationships with others and making contributions as part of a group, a community, the natural world.

Well-being addresses the importance of physical and mental health and wellness. It incorporates capacities such as self-care, sense of self, and self-regulation skills.

Engagement suggests a state of being involved and focused. When children are able to explore the world around them with their natural curiosity and exuberance, they are fully engaged. Through this type of play and inquiry, they develop skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, and innovating, which are essential for learning and success in school and beyond.

Expression or communication (to be heard, as well as to listen) may take many different forms. Through their bodies, words, and use of materials, children develop capacities for increasingly complex communication. Opportunities to explore materials support creativity, problem solving, and mathematical behaviours. Language-rich environments support growing communication skills, which are foundational for literacy.

A focus on these foundations throughout all aspects of early years programs ensures optimal learning and healthy development.

While this pedagogical document is built on the above foundations, the groundwork for How Does Learning Happen? is the 2007 publication Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario Early Childhood Settings, commonly referred to as ELECT or the Early Learning Framework.

The How Does Learning Happen? document can be found at

The Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECE) at Riverside Park Nursery School believe that children are curious, capable learners and thrive in child directed, inclusive, natural, and play based educational environments.  Our RECEs see themselves are co-learners (or co-conspirators!) of the children’s development as they explore the indoor and outdoor classrooms.

Observations and documentation of each child’s learning through play are key skills that our RECEs possess.  They use various documentation tools and are currently using an electronic app called Story Park.