As a daycare provider, it can be tough to decide how to craft the perfect curriculum for your kids. It’s important to remember that young children need plenty of opportunities to play, as they learn and develop important skills through play. Here are a few of the key benefits of including play in your daycare curriculum.
Socialization is a crucial part of early childhood development. Through play, young children learn to interact with others, negotiate, share and take turns. In fact, when children are given opportunities to play in groups, they are more likely to develop meaningful relationships and a strong sense of community that can carry through into adulthood.
There is a strong correlation between play and language skills. As children engage in imaginative play, they create stories, role-play conversations, and learn to express their thoughts and emotions through words. Play provides an organic and engaging way for children to practice language skills like grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.
Physical activity is essential for young children’s healthy development. Playtime provides a natural and fun way to develop gross and fine motor skills, improve coordination and balance, and enhance overall physical health. Activities like scavenger hunts, tag, and dancing are great ways to get kids up and moving.
Imaginative play allows children to create and manipulate their own worlds. Through this process, kids can express their individuality, and learn to think critically and solve problems in unique ways. Furthermore, imaginative play helps to nurture children’s creativity, which is essential to success in many areas of life.
Just like adults, children can experience stress and anxiety. Play provides a healthy outlet for expressing and coping with different emotions. Creative activities like drawing and painting, building with blocks or playing with puppets can be especially effective at reducing stress and anxiety levels.
In conclusion, play is the foundation for early learning in daycare settings. By creating a curriculum that incorporates various forms of play, daycare providers can help to foster healthy development in children. From building social skills and enhancing language development to boosting creativity, play is an essential component of any successful daycare curriculum.
We are proud to present Highview Wilson Daycare Centre, our Client Spotlight! Highview Wilson is a non-profit organization in Toronto, located inside Highview Wilson Public School. They provide high-quality care and an inclusive learning environment for all children. The childcare centre is licensed by the ministry of education and inspected by the city.
Highview Wilson Childcare follows a play-based emergent curriculum, allowing children to grow and develop by cultivating their interests and talents. One of the main goals is to create an environment where learners can reach their full potential by learning through trial and error and creative exploration.
Playocity has been partnering with Highview Wilson as one of their extracurricular programming facilitators, and It’s been an absolute pleasure. As an organization, we feel that we have a lot in common with our client spotlight, especially when it comes to the overall educational approach and philosophy.
We believe that children learn best when they have opportunities to explore and express themselves through play, and that’s exactly the kind of environment that Highview Wilson has created for their learners.
Highview’s experienced teachers understand that learning and development are not just about teaching children facts and figures, but rather helping them reach their full potential while enjoying the process. To do this, they create individualized activities that allow chilcren to explore topics they are passionate about while still developing essential skills.
Highview Wilson Daycare Centre is truly a fantastic facility where kids can learn and grow in an enjoyable environment and we look forward to continuing this amazing collaboration!
We are proud to introduce our Featured Instructor, Shenel Williams. She is an incredibly talented dance teacher and has been such an amazing addition to our team! Shenel’s work has been truly inspiring and her dedication and passion for teaching have made her an invaluable asset to us. We are so grateful for her contribution and can’t wait to see what she’ll do next!
Born and raised in Toronto, Shenel is a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Growing up she self-trained in Hip-Hop, Ballroom, African/Afro, Dancehall, and various other styles. She was the captain of the Downsview Dance Company in her senior years, where she performed at various events such as tdsbCREATES and collaborations with JustBGraphic. Through JustBGraphic, Shenel was featured in the Unplugged Festival: Middle School Tour in 2015 with artists such as Mike Black and Danny Fernandes.
Shenel graduated from York University’s Dance Program in 2022 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors. She is currently an active choreographer and performer in the Toronto dance scene. Some of the recent or ongoing projects include: choreographing a set for “ArtstartTO,” performing at Jean Augustine’s Black History Month Celebration, and training with York University’s Hip Hop dance team called “Integrated Entity.”
Aside from training, Shenel is teaching with a couple of dance studios in the GTA, and facilitating lots of exciting programs here at Playocity. As a dance teacher and an independent artist, Shenel continues to use her voice to initiate change in the dance community and beyond.
A: I connect with all parts of Playocity’s mission. It is what drove me to be a part of the organization. In particular, I connect Playocity’s mission to bring range and diversity into schools/organizations. Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to my culture or dance forms that resonated with me. Playocity makes it their mission to provide all learners with the opportunity to see themselves in the lessons. It is something that will stick with a child, and I’m grateful to be in the position to deliver it.
A: Surprisingly, no, dancing and acting do not run in my family. However, before coming to Canada, my mother – was born and raised in Grenada and partook in a traditional folk dance called “Maypole.” My mom states that I get my rhythmic ability from her side. Aside from that, I am the first to pursue dance at a higher level.
A: For the last few months, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with Playocity. The most enjoyable aspect thus far is having the ability to facilitate classes with enriched and vibrant content.
As a dance teacher, I appreciate that the content provided is not only diverse but versatile and flexible. Making it effortless to adapt and re-invent to accommodate various learning differences, environments, and much more. The lessons’ adaptable and re-inventive nature also allows me to be fully authentic and connect with the students.
A: Growing up, I wanted to be a lot of things – like inquisitive most children. I can recall wanting to be a chef, scientist, doctor, and “person who listens to people talk,” which I now know is a therapist. While I always loved the arts and performance, as a child, I never saw it as a profession.
A: I love this question because it always shows me that performing is truly more expressive than I’ll ever be. Based on my current career path, many individuals believe I am introverted when I am the opposite.
Performing has always been a way to show a side of me that only close ones ever see. When I’m performing, I am 100 percent myself and then some. Being able to showcase my ability and feed off of an audience is the best feeling ever. It is euphoric and humbling all at the same time.
A: I got into the performing arts in high school. I didn’t attend an art school, but I was a part of the arts program at Downsview Secondary School. My former dance teacher nurtured me and provided me with outlets and opportunities to pursue the arts.
Before that, I had no way of getting in due to a lack of connection, inadequate finances for training, and much more. I always like to accredit high school as the place I sank into my pursuit and allowed myself to become the person I am today in the performing arts.
A: Some advice for kids struggling in school is to find someone you trust and open up to
them. Our struggles have a way of making us feel like we are the only ones going through them. When in retrospect, individuals are experiencing similar struggles. I would suggest not stopping at talking it out but asking or proposing ways to help in whatever area.
Moving forward from the stages of addressing/figuring it out, don’t become consumed with the reality of your struggles. Find community, activities, and other outlets to express those feelings and allow yourself to feel a sense of comfort. Most importantly, remember that you’re capable of overcoming any obstacle placed in front of you. Ask for help, find moments of freedom, and advocate for what is needed for your success.
A: What people may be surprised to learn about me is my burning desire to acquire knowledge. I love delving into different realms of knowledge like religion, the human mind, the global economy, etc. I spend a lot of my time learning new vocabulary and advancing my understanding of the world, people, and things around me. I can become hyper-fixated on a topic or point and find myself researching it to gain a better understanding. I really enjoy learning for learning’s sake.
A: My dream vacation would be to Israel. As a little kid, I’ve always been fascinated with the Dead Sea and looking back now, it is because I wanted to become a mini scientist. Aside from that, there are a lot of sites that I would love to visit. If I could travel anywhere right now, I would travel to Norway to a place called “the land of the Midnight Sun.”
While there are several places in the world the sun never sets, Norway is one place you can visit during that time. That would definitely be an incredible bodily experience and change in living. It goes beyond visitation and site-seeing as I would have to adapt to having no night.
A: Since I was a little kid, the one exercise I’ve disliked is push-ups. Even though I am capable, I’ve always hated the feeling of having all my weight on my wrists and trying to defy gravity coming up. I’ve resorted to other methods to get an upper-body workout. Fun fact, I have a hard time allowing my students to partake in them because I have a touch-and-go relationship with them. I would still highly recommend it!
Mood-boosting activities can do wonders for you and your students’ overall well-being. Aside from elevating your mood, these activities offer plenty of other benefits, such as reducing stress, nurturing cognitive skills, and promoting values like responsibility and teamwork. We’re sharing our favourite 10 mood-boosting activities you can introduce in your classroom.
Music can be used as a powerful tool to reinvigorate your students when they’re feeling a bit flat. It can also be a source of inspiration for them, as well as a tool for emotional support. Moreover, listening to music has a host of benefits. It can reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and enhance mental alertness. Ask your students what songs they like listening to and use their suggestions to create a unique playlist for the classroom. You can also encourage your students to get up and dance, as movement can be one way for them to process what they’re feeling. If you’re feeling a bit low yourself, you may want to join in on the fun and experience the power of music.
It might sound like a cliché, but laughter is indeed the best medicine and offers several short- and long-term benefits. A good laugh can help ease tension and stress as it can lower cortisol levels, helping you and your students feel more relaxed. Moreover, laughter improves your endorphin levels, giving your mood an instant boost.
You can start by cracking a joke or two to break the ice. You can give your students a heads-up that they’ll be asked to share their favourite jokes, or you can do it spontaneously to get the ball rolling.
Engaging in physical activity promotes better physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It can improve cognitive function and sleep, as well as reduce anxiety and depression. It can also help you and your students manage stress. The thing is everyone has different thresholds for physical activities. But there is some good news—you don’t need to engage in strenuous exercises to reap the benefits of physical activity. You can do something as simple as stretching, dancing, jumping, or playing indoor ball games.
Practicing mindfulness brings in a lot of benefits. It can improve not just your physical and mental health but also your overall well-being. Regular mindfulness practice can help reduce stress and hone our capacity to be aware and observant.
One of the most common myths about mindfulness and mindfulness exercises is that they’re only for adults. The good news is anyone can practice mindfulness, even kids. Plus, there are many ways to practice it. You can ask your students to sit down, stand, or move around. The key to mindfulness practice is paying attention and being present in the moment.
If you can, schedule a regular nature walk for your class. Being in nature and breathing fresh air can elevate your mood and give your energy levels a boost. It can also help reduce stress and promote better sleep. Plus, you can do it for free. Check your local area to see if there are any parks that you and your class can visit.
Gardening is a great mood-boosting activity that can easily be done in the classroom. It can reduce stress, help with fine motor development, especially if you’re with younger children, and it teaches them early on about responsibility and patience. It’s also a wonderful way for kids to use all their five senses. Plus, a classroom garden doubles as a teaching tool. As you plant, you can teach your students about how plants grow or what they need to thrive.
Classroom pets not only promote curiosity and learning but also help improve children’s self-esteem and teach them about responsibility. Moreover, class pets can provide richer experiences in the classroom for young learners and gives them something to look forward to when they go to school. Lastly, having a classroom pet can help enhance the well-being of your students and become a great alternative to screen time. Pets can relieve stress, offer emotional support, and enable students to feel more at ease.
Reading is always a welcome activity, whether it’s at home or in the classroom. It supports the development of students’ critical and analytical thinking skills, improves their self-esteem, and nurtures their imagination. Reading can also do wonders for your mental health. It can help reduce stress and give your students a way to cope with daily stressors, making reading an excellent mood-boosting activity.
Allot a specific schedule or time for reading, such as making it a weekly or monthly activity. Set up your classroom to make it more conducive for reading, like bringing pillows or blankets. You can also ask your students to bring some snacks.
Group activities like art projects give children the opportunity to learn about cooperation and teamwork. Moreover, art and art education are powerful tools for learning, self-expression, and creativity. It can relieve stress, keep students engaged, and make them feel excited. After all, isn’t it exciting to see your ideas come to life? Moreover, learning how to make or appreciate art can help young learners become happier.
Unstructured play allows your students to simply have fun while squeezing in some physical activity. In unstructured play, they can run around or dance to some of their favourite tunes. This not only gives them a sense of freedom, as structured play can feel a bit limiting sometimes, but it also helps elevate their mood.
Aside from introducing these activities, you can go a step further and create your own mood tracker for the classroom. Your students can select colours or icons like emojis that represent their mood. This way, you and your students can monitor the state of their mental health regularly. A mood tracker will also let you see any progress or fluctuations, allowing you to take the appropriate action to help your students effectively manage their moods.
We are thrilled to introduce Keelmount Day Care Centre – our amazing Featured Client. Established in 1983, Keelmount Day Care Centre is a licensed daycare located in Keele Street Public School (Toronto, Ontario). They are a non-profit, community-based daycare that caters to children from 18 months to 12 years of age. Playocity has been partnering with Keelmount Day Care for several years by facilitating extracurricular programs for its learners. It’s been such a pleasure watching their students grow and flourish year after year.
At Keelmount, the children learn through play-based activities and hands-on experiences. They also benefit from daily physical exercise, which helps them develop healthy habits and social skills that will serve them well in life. Keelmount’s management and staff are truly dedicated to creating a fun, nurturing, and stimulating learning environment and we feel incredibly proud to have been part of that journey!
Keelmount Day Care believes that active play encourages exploration and inquiry and helps maximize a child’s success. This allows children to meet their needs for acceptance, affection, and approval. Children gain a strong sense of self-esteem and social competence through hands-on experience in a safe and supportive environment that respects individual needs, cultures, diversity, and preferences.
“Our goals are to encourage positive self-concepts in each child as well as to build resilience through co-operation and self-regulation. Each child naturally learns and flourishes when they belong, when they are engaged, when they are free to express themselves, and when their wellbeing is addressed.”
We are excited to feature our Instructor of the month, Sarah Hodkinson. Sarah has been teaching dance classes for kids here at Playocity for several months now and there’s no doubt that we feel lucky to have her onboard. Since she began teaching dance, yoga, creative movement, and acting programs, we’ve received nothing but praise for her stellar work. Now, our partners are requesting Sarah to come back and teach more programs across multiple locations. We are beyond thrilled to receive such wonderful requests!
Sarah is a Toronto-based performer who has more than 20 years of experience under her belt. She has worked in various industries, including theatre, TV, and film.
As a passionate performer and instructor, Sarah started with ballet when she was five years old. From there, she branched out and started exploring other styles of dance in her teens, including jazz, modern, and hip hop. Around the age of 15, Sarah started facilitating dance classes for kids.
In high school, she got into choreography and started helping with musicals and dance shows. She further honed her acting skills by taking part in school plays and at a local theatre in town.
“I’m from a small town and always dreamt of moving to Toronto to pursue acting and dance,” shares Sarah. Her high school drama teachers also played a big role in her development as they encouraged young Sarah to pursue her dreams.
Sarah obtained her Intermediate from the Royal Academy of Dance, and she is trained in the Cecchetti method, musical theater, contemporary, jazz, and hip hop.
When she moved to Toronto, Sarah got into the Randolph College for Performing Arts. Staying true to her dreams of pursuing TV and film, she got an agent, and from there, Sarah went to numerous auditions and participated in various productions, ranging from TV shows to short films and commercials. Her journey led her to a new path, where she discovered her love for writing and producing her own films. In fact, some of the short films that Sarah produced have been screened across the country. In addition, Sarah has also acted in principal roles for short films featured in prestigious film festivals such as the Canada Shorts Film Festival and the HollyShorts Film Festival.
But Sarah’s journey wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
“It sounds easy to describe it this way, but this has taken my whole life working hard, staying focused, and getting up every time there’s a rejection, setback, or real life gets in the way. Being a performer has made me very resilient,” she shares.
Sarah’s talent and passion for performing runs in the family. Her grandmother was a ballet teacher trained by Betty Oliphant herself, who then encouraged Sarah’s grandmother to become a ballet teacher. Sarah’s grandmother also stayed true to her dreams, having started her own ballet school in Dryden, Ontario. What’s more, all of Sarah’s uncles took dance classes, and her father was such an excellent dancer that the National Ballet wanted him to be a part of their company.
Growing up, Sarah always wanted to be an actress. “I never thought I would be dancing or teaching. At this age, your body takes a toll. I’m grateful to do both,” she says. According to Sarah, her favorite thing about performing is being able to live and explore a different reality. The experience allows her to connect with something beyond herself, she just loves being on set or onstage and working with other creatives. Furthermore, she thinks that the energy of make-believe is nothing short of magic.
Today, Sarah is an integral part of Playocity, where she uses her talents, knowledge, and skills to teach learners about the transformative power of the performing arts. Embodying Playocity’s values and mission, Sarah is all about creating safe, engaging, and positive learning environments for students of all ages. Like her Playocity family, Sarah wants to help kids discover and explore their creativity and combine fun and learning to make a positive impact in their lives.
Sarah shares that her experience working with Playocity has been amazing and refreshing. “I feel seen and heard, and like many people, I have a lot on the go, and Playocity has only helped me make everything work.” She adds that she feels lucky to be able to teach kids while still being able to pursue her acting career.
Sarah knows that school can be tough for kids. Having been through the rigors of school herself, here’s her advice for kids who are having a tough time in school:
“Stick with it. There’s growth in finishing something. Try to find something to connect with at school – sports, arts, photography, student council. Remember, we don’t all learn the same, so try not to compare yourself to others and maybe get off social media. I couldn’t imagine having that when I was in school.”
Now, people might be surprised to know that Sarah is an introvert. We all know her as an upbeat, energetic, and enthusiastic teacher, and while she is incredibly passionate about what she does, she admits that it can drain her battery. So, she emphasizes recharging and learning the value of rest, something that she believes is not something that’s earned but is essential.
When she’s not teaching dance classes for kids or holding yoga, creative movement, and acting programs, Sarah loves to go hiking and just being out in nature. She also loves connecting with family and friends, as well as cooking good meals, and of course, getting plenty of rest. According to Sarah, if she could eat only one meal every day, she would love to have her mom’s tuna casserole.