Today marks the two-year of Minden Compass Early Learning and Care. We spoke with Kinga to learn more about what makes Minden such a special part of our organization. Of course, being surrounded by the beautiful rolling hills, we had to start outside. Our tour began on the toboggan hill which was about a five-minute walk away from the child care centre. This is also close to where the children and educators built a shelter in the winter for a picnic and outdoor story time.
As we explored the area, the Program & Pedagogy Lead Kinga told us, “We have a rule which is, if you can get on it, then you can go up.” Children are encouraged to explore the area, including climbing trees, but if they can’t quite get up on the branches, they are not ready to climb the tree. As we continued to the bottom of the hill, we came across a large boulder and Kinga told us, “I have several children’s paintings and drawings that show their memories are all here. I had one child draw that big stone, but in amazing colours. We studied it and when I asked the child she told me, “that’s you, and we are all in the forest, and there’s that big rock.” A lot of them have had successes because they thought they could climb up on it, but they had to try, try, and try again.” By sticking to these guidelines, they find that children explore their surroundings in age-appropriate ways, within their abilities, and feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in achieving their goals, even if it takes weeks or months of practice.
You can see the passion as Kinga takes us further down the trail and into the woods, and shows us how they harvest wild mushroom and strawberries, and all kinds of wild edibles. Her passion translates into the children’s passion. “Whatever knowledge I have, I just give it up. And the kids are just like sponges. They pick up everything.”
As we reflect on the value of being able to explore such an amazing place right beyond their fence line, Kinga explains that out educators find that children are cooperative and respectful, sensing their own sense of freedom and competence as they explore their surroundings.
Kinga feels a lot of support for outdoors since joining Compass ELC. Many of the philosophies of children learning outdoors echo her own. “We try to plan more for outdoors than indoors, as much as we can.” As Kinga modeled the benefits of spending lots of time outdoors, even colleagues who weren’t as outdoorsy have grown to love it, as they have witnessed happy children who are sleeping well and eating well.
When asked to reflect on the experience of joining Compass, Kinga explains, “the way we are treated by Compass is – there are no words. When people come to work because they want to be there, and when everybody loves the place they work, and be happy, it shows. She touched on the sense of support she and the staff feel from connections with Compass ELC including access to rich professional development, administrative support, leadership opportunities, coaching and mentoring, as well as opportunities to engage in deep, critical dialogue with peers across the organization. Every decision made at Compass ELC is based on what is best for children, and Kinga obviously believes this deeply as she describes her leadership approach that includes kindness, and viewing staff and children as capable and competent.
After spending time at Compass ELC-Minden, we couldn’t help but notice how deeply embedded the values of our organization are already. The staff at Minden embody Equal Worth, Leadership, Trusting Relationships, Lifelong Learning, Responsibility and Accountability, Safe, Caring, Joyful Places, Children at the Heart, and Collective Intelligence so fully, which certainly speaks to the fact that we were meant to be connected. Thank you for joining our Compass ELC family! We are so glad to have you.
We are excited about the renovations that will make your centre an even more welcoming, loving, joyful space!