Holistic Development

The goal of the Aboriginal Head Start Initiative in Ontario is to foster the holistic development of each child. This will be accomplished through encouraging the spiritual, social/ emotional, cognitive/language and physical development of each child. Aboriginal Head Start (AHS) projects in Ontario will:

Spiritual Development

  • increase the understanding of traditional Aboriginal culture and values by including Elders, Senators and traditional people (e.g., ceremonies, teachings, stories, etc.);
  • foster respect for the environment, and encourage a healthy, balanced lifestyle;
  • encourage and model respect and sensitivity to differences in values, culture, race, gender, families, etc.;

Social/Emotional Development

  • foster empathy amongst children, adults and others;
  • model and encourage children to express their emotions in a safe and caring environment;
  • foster a positive self image and encourage respect for the body and for self;
  • foster an understanding and respect for the unique aspects of all cultures and languages and for the physical differences in all people;
  • promote the development of unique and meaningful relationships (extended family, community members, support staff);
  • promote and model positive and effective problem solving skills;

Cognitive/Language Development

  • promote the love of lifelong learning for parents and children;
  • provide a variety of school readiness experiences that develop cognitive concepts (numbers, colours, shapes, letters);
  • promote emerging literacy skills (e.g., books, writing centres, posters, symbols);
  • support and promote the development of children’s first language;
  • emphasize the importance of developing and maintaining Aboriginal languages;
  • plan experiences that will educate children about Aboriginal heritage (e.g., stories, folklore);
  • provide a variety of materials/experiences to enhance children’s innate creativity and curiosity;
  • provide experiences that support and promote positive children’s play;
  • identify play problems and facilitate productive play;

Physical Development

  • provide activities that foster fine and gross motor development;
  • provide a balance between indoor and outdoor activities;
  • provide experiences that combine music and movement (e.g., drumming, dancing, songs);
  • promote traditional and culturally relevant games and activities;
  • encourage healthy eating.