Early learning centres have been successful in school district

Coordinators from four local Strong Start programs, along with the manager of the P.A.C.E.S Hub program made a presentation to school board.

Since the P.A.C.E.S Hub was first opened at Roosevelt Park Community School in the fall of 2005, the number of early learning programs hosted by School District 52 has grown substantially, with more and more families utilizing the programs each year.

At the monthly school board meeting held last week, coordinators from all four local Strong Start programs, along with the manager of the P.A.C.E.S Hub program made a presentation to the board to talk about what’s currently and will be happening at each program for parents and caregivers and their young children.

Katie Wahl is the manager of Westview Child Care Centre, which also holds the contract for the P.A.C.E.S Hub program. Wahl said some highlights of the program at Roosevelt include baking with families on Monday, Moose Goose, a men’s group, providing parenting classes, and even having someone from Fraser St. Tutoring come in once a week to help families that are going back to school.

“We try to provide a lot of programs that the parents are looking for,” Said Wahl.

A centre opened up in Conrad Elementary in 2006, and was the first Strong Start program in the district. The school’s facilitator, Minnie Harris, said that people attending the centre have been good.

“Parent involvement has been steady. I would say roughly between 70 to 80 families attend at Conrad.” She said.

Some programs offered from the Conrad centre include weekly music classes targeted for three to five year olds taught by local musician Kate Lines, cultural teachings, and in the past drum making. Recently, a new pilot program to help children with their literacy skills was started, and Harris says the centre will start moccasin-making classes in September.

The following year, another Strong Start centre opened up, this time at Pineridge.

“We opened in 2007 and way back then we’d have three to five children a day. This year we have almost one hundred children.” Said facilitator, Candace Sampson.

Some early learning programs at Pineridge include baking classes, a dance program, Moe the Mouse and Bonds to Literacy. Eventually, cedar weaving will become a program.

In 2010, an afternoon Strong Start centre was opened up at Charles Hays Secondary School, trying to target parents who aren’t doing anything in the afternoon. Harris and Sampson became the facilitators for the afternoon centre, which includes a lending library for young kids, Bonds to Literacy, and infant massages that recently started. Soon the centre will be offering another music program in the afternoon, with a target age of zero to two.

Lax Kxeen has the newest center, which opened up in September. The facilitator at Lax Kxeen is Megan Kroeker, who says the centre has started off on a good foot.

“We have an average of eight to ten children coming in every day, which is a great start for the year.” She said, mentioning there are around 80 to 90 families that come to the center, some of which being from other Strong Start programs in the district.

Currently, the center is offering baby massaging, as well as some parenting workshops and support staff from speech and language. Looking forward, Kroeker says she intends to start a soccer program in the spring, as well as Zumba classes.

The early learning centers will definitely be continuing next year, as the Ministry of Education has established that funding for all of the district’s four programs will be continued in the 2012/2013 school year.

Parents or guardians who have children who are not in kindergarten yet are encouraged to visit a local Strong Start or Hub to experience the successful programs. Details about locations and times are available on School District 52’s website at http://sd52.bc.ca/sd52root/content/strongstart