Key Components of Emergent Curriculum:

  • An emergent curriculum is constantly evolving in response to children’s changing needs and interests.  It is child-initiated allowing for collaborations between children and teachers, giving everyone a voice.

  • It is responsive to the child, thereby allowing teachers to build upon existing interests.

  • The teacher takes on the role of facilitator.  She listens to the children and spends much time observing their play. Through these observations, she builds on to their learning by providing children with the opportunity to discover more and dig deeper.

  • Emergent Curriculum is flexible.  Planning is not done far in advance.  The program is constantly developing.  It does not become stagnant or repetitive.

  • It provides visual documentation of teacher’s observations of children’s interests and thought processes through the use of portfolios, webbing and other forms of documentation.  Photographs are frequently used as a source of documentation.

What is Emergent Curriculum? 

Trafalgar Oaks Childcare & Learning Centre is excited to be a participant in Quality First.  Quality First is an initiative within Halton that supports early childhood program to further develop the level of quality care and education they offer to young children and their families.

Quality First is based on the following indicators of quality childcare:

  • Environment/Curriculum: are appropriate learning materials and experiences available for children in a safe and caring environment?

  • Supervision/Administration: does the Supervisor support the staff team?

  • Professionalism: do teachers participate in professional activities and life long learning?

  • Inclusion: does the childcare centre have policies that support the inclusion of children with special needs? Does the childcare support diversity?

  • Adult/Child Interactions: do teachers interact with children with sensitivity?

  • Support for Early Childhood Education Students: does the Centre accept ECE students and support them as a field placement site?

The Centre is supported through an ongoing process which includes: observation and evaluation of the program, self-evaluation and goal setting, staff professional development, resources and support from a consultant.  Commitment to Quality is an ongoing process.  By participating in Quality First, we have made a commitment to increase and maintain the quality of care and learning we provide to the children and families of Trafalgar Oaks Childcare & Learning Centre.  

The Quality First Report 2013 provides an historical overview of the program as well as performance results and measures to improve outcomes for children.  This report helps to inform how Quality First is working in Halton.

Quality First

At Trafalgar Oaks Childcare & Learning Centre, a Portfolio is developed for each child upon enrollment. Portfolios contain pictures and documentation of developmental milestones that your child achieves while attending the Centre.  Our portfolios are done using the Continuum of Development as a guideline for developmental milestones.  The Continuum of Development was developed by the Best Start Expert Panel as part of the ELECT (Early Learning for Every Child Today) document.  The ELECT document was designed “to complement, not replace, the Ontario Day Nurseries Act, Ontario Early Years Centre guidelines and the Kindergarten Program. Early Learning for Every Child Today is prepared for use by early childhood practitioners – early childhood educators, parenting workers, kindergarten teachers, family support staff, early interventionists, home care visitors – and other caregivers who are working in early childhood settings.” (taken from “Early Learning for Every Child Today, 2007)

Check out some of our sample portfolios



Why Use Portfolios?

  • Observing helps the teachers get to know the children better, teachers can see developmental progress in action.   

  • Helps parents gain an understanding of their child’s experiences while they are away from home.   

  • Demonstrates professionalism and accountability.

  • Provides a developmental background information for new teachers, students and volunteers.

  • Helps to establish developmental goal setting.

Portfolios are a great teaching tool for staff, but they are also a wonderful keepsake when your child has completed his/her time at Trafalgar Oaks.


When I’m building in the block room, please don’t say I’m “Just Playing.”
For you see, I’m learning as I play about balances and shapes.
Who knows, I may be an architect some day.
When I’m getting all dressed up; setting the table, caring for the babies,
Don’t get the idea I’m “Just Playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play;
I may be a mother or father some day.
When you see me sitting in a chair, reading to an imaginary audience.
Please don’t laugh and think I’m “Just Playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play;
I may be a teacher someday.
When you see me combing the bushes for bugs,
Or packing my pockets with choice things I find; don’t pass it off as “Just Play.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play:
I may be a scientist someday.
When you see me engrossed in a puzzle or some “plaything” at my school,
Please don’t feel the time is wasted.
For, you see, I’m learning as I play. I’m learning to solve problems and concentrate.
I may be in business some day.
When you see me cooking or tasting foods,
Please don’t think that because I enjoy it, it is “Just Play.”
I’m learning to follow directions and see differences.
I may be a cook someday.
When you see me learning to skip, hop, run and move my body;
Please don’t say I’m “Just Playing.”
For, you see, I’m learning as I play; I’m learning how my body works.
I may be a doctor, nurse or athlete someday.
When you asked me, what I’ve done at school today,
And I say “I just played”; please don’t misunderstand me.
For, you see, I’m learning as I play.
I’m learning to enjoy and be successful in my work;
I’m preparing for tomorrow.
Today, I am a child and my work is play.

By Anita Wadley