AHS Six Components
The Aboriginal Head Start six components has helped to define the vision and practices at the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre. All of the OICC programs are guided by these same six basic components to ensure quality programming.
Goal: To prepare Inuit children for school
- Variety of child-centered activities: art, sand, dress-up, computer, games, blocks, puzzles, puppets, books, science, music, balls.
- Children’s activities that will help develop basic concepts i.e. numbers, letters, syllabics.
- Monthly field trips.
- Circle activities in English and Inuktitut.
- Child assessment: observations, progress reports, parent-teacher interviews, and child development referrals, i.e. speech therapy.
- Weekly circles with the Family Literacy Program.
- Weekly book lending opportunities.
Goal: To encourage healthy eating habits using a variety of nutritional foods, including country food.
- Healthy Breakfast/ Lunch prepared on-site and served daily
- Nutritious snacks prepared on-site and served daily
- All foods are based on the required Food Groups in the Day Nurseries Act, Canada’s Guide to Healthy Eating
- Quarterly menus sent home and are posted on the Parent Bulletin Board
- Allergies posted and foods that trigger an allergy not served to that child
- Country food served as available
- Children’s activities about nutrition and country food
3. Parent/Guardian Involvement
Goal: To include parents in all aspects of the Head Start program.
Parent/ Caregiver Activities:
- The Parent Orientation Night
- Parent volunteers
- Doing crafts/sewing
- Ongoing communication via phone, parent letters, email, and communication book
- Monthly program calendars
- Special family events: parties, outings, field trips, lunches
- Parenting courses and workshops
- Parent-Teacher meetings
- Board of Directors
- Participation/attendance at The Annual General Meeting
The foundation of success for the Sivummut Head Start is the involvement of parents and guardians in the program. Parents and guardians are the child’s primary teachers and they have the most important influence on their child’s development. It is the parents’ right and responsibility to be involved in all aspects of the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of the program.
There are many ways to contribute to the program such as assisting teachers in the program, helping in the kitchen or office, building maintenance, going on field trips, helping the teachers prepare materials, sewing, doing crafts, snow removal, helping at social events and acting as a Member of the Board of Directors.
4. Culture and Language
Goal: To promote the retention of the Inuit culture and language.
- Community sharing: Elders, storytelling, sharing traditional knowledge, sewing, etc
- Program for children based on Inuit culture
- Children’s performances in community i.e. National Aboriginal Day
- Inuktitut language used daily
- Traditional play items: bone games, string games, ulus, drums, amautis, atigis, kamiik, Inuit dolls
- Development and use of culturally appropriate activities and materials.
- Cultural events such as the annual “Inuit Day” in February
- Circles in Inuktitut i.e. songs, games, books
- Use of syllabics in the classroom i.e. labeling pictures and objects
A key part of the Sivummut Head Start Program is the cultural and language component. Activities, materials, special events, food, and family workshops reflect the Inuit culture. Inuktitut is an official language of the program and used throughout the day. It is the policy of the Ottawa Inuit Children’s Centre to employ Inuit staff whenever possible.
5. Health Promotion
Goal: To promote and model healthy lifestyle choices for parents and children.
- Focus on the development of the “whole” child.
- Workshops on health/nutrition topics
- Dental care program (screening and varnishing)
- Policies and procedures to ensure health and safety of everyone
- Smoke free environment
- Children’s activities promoting health and safety
- Regular outside play and physical activity for the children
- Monthly ‘Well Child’ checks
- Referrals when needed i.e. Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health
6. Social Support
Goal: To provide advice, support and information to parents. To strengthen a parents support network and provide information.
- Regular contact with parents
- Informal one-on-one support
- Voluntary home visits
- Formal assessments on children when required or requested
- Individual program planning for children when required
- General referrals for parents
- Clothing/toy donations and exchange
- Parent support
- Ensured confidentiality
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