A Tiny Lab offers licensed, high quality, child care to children between 18 months and 5 years in Central Halifax. Our hours of operation are between 8am and 5pm.
We opened our doors in June 2014. Our vision was for a small neighbourhood centre that gave special attention to food and the environment. We wanted to create a healthy work environment, support families, embrace the city, and be active and engaged in our community.
In 2019, the Province of Nova Scotia approved our application to expand, under their Strategic Growth Plan, so we could better meet the demand for spaces. As a result, two new classrooms were added in 2021. Despite the growth, our focus and principles remain the same.
In emergent curriculum classrooms, curriculum is not established in advance. Our teachers set general goals for the classroom based on child development and current interests of the children. As a team, teachers work collaboratively to make decisions around what direction invitations and projects may take, depending on the age and developmental level of children and based on their current interests. Teachers are constantly observing and reflecting to continually adjust the curriculum, while keeping in mind our overall learning goals (Well Being, Discovery & Invention, Language & Communication, Personal & Social Responsibility).
Image of the Child
We believe that children are competent, curious and capable. We know that children have an interest in constructing their learning, in engaging in social interactions and in negotiating with everything the environment brings to them.
Our teachers are deeply aware of children’s potentials. The foundation of our work is built on trust - trust in children’s capabilities, trust in our co-teachers and trust with our parents and administration that puts the needs of the child first.
Play forms the basis of everything that we do during our day together. Play provides opportunities for children to learn as they discover, create, improvise, and imagine. When children play together, they create social groups, test out ideas, challenge each other’s thinking, and build new understandings of themselves and the world around them. Our centre deeply values and respects children’s right to play. Our teachers understand that when they observe and document children’s play, they discover children’s interests and abilities, while also assessing development and learning.
Anti-bias and Equity
Anti-bias curriculum is an approach to early childhood education that is based on values-based principles and methodology in support of respecting and embracing differences and acting against bias and unfairness. Anti-bias teaching requires critical thinking and problem solving by both children and adults. The overarching goal is creating a climate of positive self and group identity development, through which every child will achieve their fullest potential. At our centre we are committed to continual reflection on biases, privilege, and anti-racist teachings.
We know that children do best when their caregivers and parents show them that they are loved and accepted for who they are. We provide children unconditional support while they may experiment with their gender expression. It is our goal to provide an environment that is rich in gender diversity and free of stereotypes of traditional gender roles. In this way, our teachers engage in continual reflection on the environment, materials and language present in our centre that may reinforce traditional gender roles and actively work to revise, adapt and eliminate them where necessary.
We believe that part of our work as responsible educators is to equip children with the knowledge and skills that they need to be stewards of the earth that they are inheriting. Children are included in, and exposed to, developmentally age appropriate ecological teaching around climate change, protecting the earth and water, reducing, reusing and recycling, composting, and reducing our environmental footprint. We are continually reflecting on how we can embed sustainability into our daily routines and practices and stay up to date on current research and best practices in sustainable living.
Relationships are central to how we operate. We believe the quality of the care we provide is directly tied to the quality of the relationships we have with the children, with families, and with our co-workers. We are committed to ensuring these relationships are respectful; warm and caring; honest and open; and fair and equitable. We are committed to language and communication that is open, cooperative and collaborative. Our approach to respectful language and active listening includes how we resolve conflicts, modelling appropriate language, problem solving and being aware of body language, tone and biases.
Toys and Matereials
In our classrooms you will see recycled materials, thrifted materials and furniture, repurposed materials, homemade toys and equipment and loose parts. Loose parts can be anything – recycled, alluring, beautiful, found objects and materials that children can move, manipulate, control, and change while they play. Children can carry, combine, redesign, line up, take apart and put loose parts back together again in an almost endless way. Examples of loose parts are lids in the dramatic centre, rocks or pebbles in the block building area, empty spools, keys, straws, corks, buttons, pine cones – the list is endless.
Healthy, homemade, plant-based food is a fundamental part of our program. Our snacks and meals are crafted to be delicious and nutritious, focusing on in-season produce, whole grains and legumes. Clean, simple preparations and presentations highlight the quality and pure flavors of the ingredients. We realize that we have a special opportunity to not only provide children with their daily dietary needs as stated by Canada’s Food Guide, but also in helping them form positive, life-long relationships with healthy food and mindful eating.
Meals are served family style, with six to eight children and a teacher at each table. Children serve themselves, portioning out their own desired amount of food, passing, and helping serve others at the table. Through this process, children develop practical life skills as well as social relationships with their peers and teachers. Our goal is to provide children with the skills and positive environment, so they develop healthy, life-long eating habits based on their individual needs.
Playfulness and Joy
There is joy and hopefulness in the work that we do with children and the relationships we have with others. We care about the whole health of all people, both big and small, and understand that well-being includes not only the balance of work and family life but also ensuring that mental, physical, emotional, environmental and spiritual health are maintained. We do our best to make space for joy, laughter and foster playfulness for everyone.