CMAS in Action: Targeted Learning


Since the introduction of CNC in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, sites have been growing…and thriving. As they become increasingly familiar and compliant with CNC requirements, staff are looking for new ways to build the quality of services and broaden their knowledge. CMAS is supporting these goals with the launch of two new workshops created to meet the needs of the programs in these provinces.

“Now that they have been on board for five years, the next step is looking at best practice, “ says Jackie Cunningham, CMAS consultant and ECE instructor at a Manitoba college. “The staff is hungry for professional development.”

The message the environment sends to immigrants is important, as is the creation of safe spaces and sounds.

The first workshop, The Early Learning Environment, explores how the environment can impact behaviour. Many programs in Manitoba are mobile with no dedicated space. As a result, the setting really comes into play—especially for those who are new to Canada. The message the environment sends to immigrants is important, as is the creation of safe spaces and sounds. Surroundings can help guide behaviour, support language development, and facilitate understanding. To extend their learning, workshop attendees participate in scenarios that deal with managing behaviour through the environment.

“Intentional planning and set-up are key. The better the environment, the less verbal guidance caregivers have to give the children,” she explains to participants. “With newcomer children in particular, we shouldn’t be relying on verbal guidance to the extent we do. Sometimes we just talk because we think we should. The design of a room can often communicate to a child the expectations and the play possibilities better than words from an adult.”

We shouldn’t be relying on verbal guidance to the extent we do .

Meaningful Documentation is the focus of the second workshop. Jackie observed that many of the programs in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have to same “go-to” ideas for documentations. She developed this training to show caregivers other things they can do. The session demonstrates how documentation can teach new words, as well as celebrate family cultures and traditions. Emphasis is on how to keep it simple with less writing, so the practice is sustainable for staff. Also, parents with limited English can understand more if photos are used to communicate. This workshop incorporates hands-on practice for learners to put together and use documentation.

The session demonstrates how documentation can teach new words, as well as celebrate family cultures and traditions.

The biggest challenge was adapting what a college course covers in weeks into a one-and-a-half hour workshop. There was the added consideration that the children in CNC programs are newcomers. Likewise, many of their caregivers are immigrants themselves. Much of the workshop content is new to them, right down to the terminology. For example, when discussing direct and indirect guidance, Jackie points out that even “guidance” can be an unfamiliar word. The handouts from each session are a great take-away item, allowing participants to review and reference what they learn.

The workshops are not just a forum to acquire and practice new skills. They provide the hance for caregivers from different programs to connect. Networking is indispensable to staff, but it can be difficult to coordinate.

More than anything, these workshops inspire caregivers to change the lens through which they look at their own programs.

“The workshops are one way to bring staff together. Many of the programs are only two-and-a-half to three hours long. This is the chance to get together outside of work and share ideas,” tells Jackie. “For example, one workshop had 16 people from three programs in Saskatoon. Even though they are in the same city, caregivers don’t get the opportunity to see each other.”

Workshops have been well-received by the participants.

“The programs want to do better and caregivers want to learn,” says Jackie. “More than anything, these workshops inspire caregivers to change the lens through which they look at their own programs.”

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