Nurturing Healthy Development & Well-Being

How Does Learning Happen? Ontario's Pedagogy for the Early Years

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.

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. (How Does Learning Happen? pg. 7)


On the Ministry website there is a section called "Think, Feel, Act." It describes self-regulation as the ability to deal with and recover from stress, and states that it lays a foundation for long-term physical, psychological, behavioral and educational well-being. to learn more, watch the following video clip and/or read the research brief to reflect on your practices and think about what you can do enhance children's growing ability to self-regulate. More videos on this topic are available on"Think, Feel, Act" at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/selfRegulate.html
Self Regulation - Sources of Stress in Young Children

Al's Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices

In ADSB, we use Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices in our Kindergarten classrooms. It is an early-childhood prevention program designed to promote social and emotional competence and to foster children’s development of resilience-related behaviours. Al’s Pals teachers play a facilitative role in helping strengthen children’s personal and social skills that act as protective mechanisms against risk.

It is important that the program be delivered in a manner consistent with the training. Think about the following best practices:

Get Ready

 Designate area for Al’s Place.

 Complete pretests if you are participating in evaluation.

 Pick the start date for lessons.

 Review curriculum Preface, Leading the Lessons, etc. in front of manual.

Check Materials

 Put in order: photographs, puppet scripts, reproducible masters, songbook pages.

 Listen to entire CD to sure make it’s fully functional.

 Replenish parent letters.

 Check for ample Al-a-grams.

 Check for sufficient Spanish parent letters and Spanish Al-a-grams.

 Place books (Just Because I Am, It’s My Body), puppets and posters in puppet house.

Reach out to Parents

 Send home Al’s Pals introductory letter on school letterhead (template in your manual).

 Display Al’s Pals puppet house and materials at Open House or Back to School Night.

 Remind parents to look for letters and reinforce skills at home.

Delivering the Lessons

 Children retain most when lessons are delivered twice each week.

 Conduct lessons in sequence, with your full group, same days and time if possible.

 Review Helpful Hints and Special Notes before teaching lessons.

Reinforcing Al’s Pals Skills

 Display photographs and posters once they’ve been introduced in a lesson.

 Play songs regularly once they’ve been introduced in a lesson. (Some ideas: play “Calm Down” at rest time or during transitions; “Be My Friend” every Monday; “Stop! Think!” before science)

 Intentionally role model for children. (Use feeling and ‘power’ words, problem-solve aloud, etc.)

 Use follow-up activities anytime after lessons are taught. Many can be used in centers.

 Discuss “safe and healthy choices for children” rather than “good or bad” so children can bond to positive norms without feeling confused about possible home/community choices.

 “Catch” and acknowledge children using Al’s Pals skills. Al-a-grams sent home to parents encourage children.

Strategies to Support Self-Regulation in the Primary Classroom

Self-regulation is not something we can "teach" the whole class or over-generalize. We need to "research" each child to find ways to help them reduce stressors and return to being calm, alert, and ready to learn.

Here are some things you might want to try:

  • a visual schedule
  • adjust the lighting
  • declutter the classroom
  • access to water and healthy snacks
  • choice in seating
  • fidget toys
  • quiet, cozy areas (in addition to Al's Place)
  • outside time
  • "Me Moves" DVD
  • yoga
  • deep breathing

After Hours Session - Strategies to Support Self-Regulation

There will be an After Hours session from 4:00 - 5:00 on Tuesday, April 12 at the Education Centre that will focus on Strategies to Support Self-regulation in the Early Learning classroom. In particular this session will introduce Educators to breathing exercises as well as yoga and other calming techniques.

Online registration for this session has closed. If you would like to attend but didn't register, please email Blythe at servanb@adsb.on.ca to be added to the participant list.

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