5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Joining A Parent Participation Preschool

Guest Post by Brooke Bennett of Happy Corner Preschool

Parents today are faced with big decisions.  For many, it starts early with choosing the right preschool.  When choosing a preschool, today’s savvy parents are looking for small class sizes, top quality programming, and assurances that their child will be kindergarten ready.

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Parent Participation Preschools (PPPs) offer all of these aspects of preschool education, and more.  PPPs have a long and proud history in Metro Vancouver, and have been operating in British Columbia for over 60 years.  Below you’ll find the top 5 benefits of joining a PPP.

1) Parents participate in the classroom experience.

PPPs offer much higher adult/child ratios and small class sizes compared to other preschools. At a PPP, children receive the personalized attention, recognition, and support they deserve to develop their social and emotional skills.

As part of the parent participation aspect, a family member or caregiver volunteers their time in the classroom. After an orientation, the volunteer, along with the teacher and assistant teacher, are available to help and support the students.

By being in the classroom with their child, parents are able to model a lifelong love of learning.  Hands down, the children absolutely love it.

2) Parents can sharpen their parenting skills.

Let’s face it, parenting a preschooler can be trying and emotionally draining.

For the majority of us, their behavior is truly baffling.  Most parents would love to understand the reasons behind their child’s outbursts and mood swings – but where does a busy parent find the time to figure it all out?

PPPs are an amazing parenting resource and offer free monthly parenting seminars by experts in child development.  These speakers’ events provide parents with knowledge to broaden their parenting skills and allow them to share experiences about raising children with other like-minded parents.

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3) Children receive high-quality programming.

The quality of preschool education is on every parent’s mind.  Parents need to know that their child will be stimulated, challenged, and supported at an age-appropriate level.

PPPs provide enriched and quality play-based programming.  Child-led play is crucial for children to develop socially, cognitively, physically, and emotionally.  Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.  PPPs also recognize the importance of play to child development and are committed to providing enhanced play-based environments.

4) Be part of a community.

A sense of community is integral to the development of a child’s feelings of belonging and security.  The “village” parents are so desperately seeking to help raise their children can be found in the community of a PPP. 

PPPs offer the opportunity to build friendships with other parents and children and to feel part of a caring community.  Parents are able to meet others with similar parenting values, work together to support the school, and make life-long friends. The time parents invest in creating this community has an amazing pay-off. 

5) Parents help children learn new skills.

At the core of PPPs are the families.  Parents are directly involved in the classroom and the administration of the school.  PPPs are a wonderful setting for both children and parents to learn new skills, meet new friends, and take the first steps together in a school setting.

Research shows that parent involvement early in a child’s education is a major factor in their success.  Children that are comfortable and feel supported at school tend to do better overall, which means parents have to spend less time dealing with problems later on.  It clearly pays for parents to make an investment with their own time in the early years.    

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PPPs formed out of the need for community and have been treasured in their communities for generations. 

Preschoolers graduating from PPPs have the skills and tools for problem solving, self-regulation and interacting with others.  These children are ready to enter kindergarten with confidence.

Curious about PPPs?  Happy Corner Preschool, one of two PPPs in East Vancouver, is holding its Open House and Registration on Saturday, February 24 from 11am-1pm.  Bring your families for a stay and play, meet the teachers and see the classroom! Learn More

Photos courtesy of Amber Hughes Photography and Jozi Grant Photography 

Choosing the Right School with Brockton

North Vancouver’s Brockton School Weighs in on this Significant Consideration 

Selecting with whom to entrust your child for their schooling is never easy and always significant. From the age of 3 through to 18, the choices we make for our children will have profound impacts on their development, their future opportunities, and to varying extents, the direction of the society within which they live.

Public or private, small or large, near or far, traditional or innovative, outcome focussed or process focussed, academically rigorous or holistically balanced… there are so many considerations.

QUESTION: In a time when it is impossible to predict the future for our children, a time when there is such uncertainty in the world, a time when knowing what is ‘best’ is not always easy, how do we choose a school that will best support our child?

ANSWER: It depends. It depends on your priorities (what do you want for your child; what is your definition of success). It depends on your child (what are his/her needs and ambitions). It depends on your options (what is available and what are the pros/cons of each option).

To be certain, in the years ahead, your child will need a toolkit on which they can rely – a toolkit that will survive (and thrive through) a myriad of circumstances. Yes – your child will need a basic education with essential knowledge and skills, but beyond this, your child will need: a sense of belonging, community, compassion; a sense of who they are and their responsibility in the world; a sense of vision and action; a sense of courage and character, and more. Your child will need a school that recognizes, values, and nurtures them as a uniquely special individual and walks with them on their journey.

Brockton School (JK-grade 12, IB Continuum, co-ed day school) invites families to converse more about the options that exist. Contact Brockton School at: brocktonschool.com

Play Grant for Britannia Community Services!

For some kids, the opportunity to play is limited by finances, location and safe locations. Physical literacy is vital for children to develop appropriately and learn to live healthy lifestyles as adults. Answering the call is RBC and their Learn to Play grants, which support kids and youth in sport and recreation. The grants go towards teaching children to play through jumping, swimming, skating and more, mastering movement skills and building confidence while growing physical strength.

The Britannia Community Services Centre is the latest recipient of a $9,450 grant, part of which will go to the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society’s Learn to Skate program, which will provide urban Aboriginal children, tweens, teens and youth with an opportunity to learn how to skate while also encouraging future participation in the sport. “By providing organizations with the funding and resources to teach kids basic skills, we’ve been able to empower them to feel confident and competent to move their bodies, engage in sport and create lifelong relationships with physical activity,” said Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. Not only will kids benefit from the grant but so will the greater community as a whole. Congrats to the centre for their grant!

Understanding Toys by Age Group

Guest post by Joanna at Granville Island Toy Company

When babies make their entrance into the world, they aren’t able to do much for the first 3 months. At this stage, vision is blurry so bright bold patterns are best as well as black and white images. As the baby grows, toys that stimulate other senses are good such as squeaking or crinkling noise toys, toys that have texture, and toys that are soft and cuddly. Toys that can help relieve teething pain, such as teethers are great too!

As babies near their first birthday, it’s all about cause and effect. At this stage toddlers begin to make use of their newly acquired motor skills. In this instance, toys like stacking rings, nesting boxes, push or pull toys that make noise or have pieces that pop up and move are great. Four or five piece puzzles can help those little motor skills develop too.

There’s no such thing as the “terrible two’s” in our book. We like to call it the “independent twos” as these older toddlers like to imitate the actions of the grown-ups around them. Props for make-believe play such as toy telephones, tea-party sets and dolls that make-real life sounds are great. Self-propelled ride-on toys make a nice introduction at this stage as well.

By the time a child reaches 4 to 5 years of age, their learning ability increases dramatically. This is a great time to introduce interactive educational toys that teach math, verbal and social skills. Once a child turns 6 or 7 years old, it’s a lot easier to see what their own interests are. Some kids love doing science experiments (with a parent’s help), building things (lego) while others love arts and crafts.

At 8 years and older, many kids develop adult-like interests, abilities and hobbies and may even display a passion by becoming a collector. These are great years to help kids build a sense of mastery and competence. Kids also like working on longer projects, some of which may take days to complete. It’s also a great time to introduce board games that the whole family can get involved in playing.

For tons of amazing toy options, check out the Granville Island Toy Company. Don’t miss the grand opening, Saturday May 23rd, 2015 from 12 – 6pm at their new Marpole location (8710 Granville Street). There will be prizes, face painting, a gift with purchase, pinwheel discounts, and more!

iGirl and iBoy Workshops with Saleema Noon

All parents want to equip their kids the best tools and skills to navigate the world. Saleema Noon, sexual health educator and iGirl creator, offers workshops called iGirl and iGuy for children of all ages to educate and empower them with the knowledge they need to understand their bodies, their selves and their needs. Noon and her fellow educators can help to explore those issues that are often thought too embarrassing to discuss aloud.

Some of the workshops are designed to educate parents about speaking to their children about sexual health and other related questions. Other classes involve discussion with the children to highlight sexual health issues related to their specific age group and needs. The workshops focus on healthy expression of emotions, gender stereotypes and other issues. By separating the programs for boys and girls, children are given the freedom to speak their minds and ask their deepest questions.

2-3 day iGirl and iGuy workshops can be offered in school or in private. Contact Saleema Noon for more information.

It’s French Immersion Celebration Week!

BC students have had the opportunity to be educated in French Immersion programs for over 30 years. Interest in French language programs continues to increase, a phenomenon reflected in enrolment statistics: 2011-2012 marks the fourteenth year of consecutive enrolment growth in BC French Immersion programs. In BC, over 238,000 students are enrolled in French Second Language programs and French Immersion alone represents nearly 8% of the province’s total student population.

All this week, in celebration, members of Canadian Parents for French–BC & Yukon Chapter, are organizing events across the province. Students and their families are invited to celebrate and share their achievements in French Immersion programs. French Immersion Celebration Week aims for inclusion: the ability to speak French or being enrolled in immersion are not requirements to enjoy the celebrations!

For more info, visit the CPF website at www.cpf.bc.ca.

Happy New Year!

It was a lovely holiday (and we hope for you as well!) but we are happy to be back and in the thick of things again! We have some exciting changes coming up in the next month with our online content, so stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks!

In the meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our January/February issue! Our focus for this issue is education, with articles on early learning, neuroplasticity and more! Check it out online by clicking on the cover image on the left, or pick up a copy at one of our 750+ distribution spots around the Lower Mainland!

We’ve also updated our Events and Contests pages, so don’t forget to take a look for cool outings and prizes!

Holiday Event: Eco-Craft Fair

Students from Grandview and Lord Tennyson Elementary schools will be selling their own eco gifts they have been busy creating with the Education Team from Rocky Mountain Flatbread. A local crafter will also be selling home made crafts. Plus you can make your own eco-friendly bath salts, snow globes, holiday cards and decorations! There will also be local gift baskets for sale, full of products from local food stores. $5 from the sale of every gift basket will go to support World in a Garden, a local community garden in Kerrisdale.

DATE: Wednesday, December 8

TIME: 3:30pm to 6pm

LOCATION: Rocky Mountain Flatbread, 1876 West 1st Ave, Vancouver, 604.730.0321

VSO Tiny Tots and Kids’ Koncerts Begin in October!

Tiny Tots: An entertaining 4-concert series for children up to four years of age, featuring professional music educators Let Your Music Shine! with Lisa & Linda. Choose from performances in downtown Vancouver or Port Coquitlam.

Kids’ Koncerts: A fun and educational 5-concert series for children aged four to eleven, featuring the full orchestra and popular children’s entertainers at the Orpheum Theatre.

Letter from a Reader About Vancouver’s Potential School Closures

We received this letter the other day, and felt that this was relevant to many of our readers, so we are reprinting it as it was received, unedited and in full. It is from Lisa Doucette, a parent of two children at McBride Annex, one of the schools slated for closure. Overcrowding and lack of resources is a problem at schools across the Lower Mainland, and the concerns of this parent are something we can all relate to. After you read this letter, let us know what you think about the upcoming school closures in the comments section below.

Dear Vancouver School Board Trustees,

I know that it is not your decision to close any of Vancouver’s schools and that, being forced to do so, must be a difficult position to find yourselves in. You too are proud, caring Vancouverites, many of whom are parents with the same concerns about the future of public education that I have. I think you’d agree that the needs of our children should take priority over all issues financial or political. Of course all Vancouver parents and children would like their neighborhood school to stay open. Of course our dedicated McBride Annex teachers and school staff love and need their positions. And of course, no school is more worthy of being kept alive than another. Each has its’ own unique qualities that make it a special and important place for our kids to learn and grow.

As I write this letter from my 3rd floor home office, I can see McBride Annex, it’s pale green walls painted with colorful flowers and the Canadian flag waving proudly. It strikes me as ironic that McBride Annex is being targeted for it’s low enrollment, but that’s precisely what makes it so wonderfully intimate. This intimacy creates a safe and friendly atmosphere in which the students, teachers, staff, parents and even extended family members know one another by name. Our beloved McBride Annex is the heart of our neighborhood.  It’s where families meet and share the delight and wonder of watching our children blossom in front of our eyes.

Anyone who has been a student here, or has had a child enrolled here, knows of the school’s charm and solid educational reputation. Because we are not an overcrowded school, Teachers and Staff have the time and energy to make each and every child feel like an integral part of our community.
Last year my older son (and his entire class) received hand-knit toques made by their teacher. McBride Families come from many cultures, but each Spring, we gather together and celebrate our differences (and similarities) at our very popular Multi-Cultural Family Dinner. The joy of sharing our family’s recipes with one another cannot be measured. Last Spring was my first Multi-Cultural Dinner. As I tucked into the exotic flavors of each unique dish, I realized that although we are ethnically diverse, we are united by one thing: our school. It has brought us together to learn from one another.

The children here look out for one another as if they are an extended family. The halls are filled with toothless smiles. Sticky hands are held tightly. Friendships are formed and memories made. The students’ self-esteem is built from being truly known and recognized by their teacher and classmates. Brilliant artwork decorates the hallways. Just steps from the school, families play and picnic together at Gray’s Park, a natural extension of our school playground. Recently, we all celebrated the arrival of a new McBride baby and sadly, shed tears over the tragic loss of a McBride parent. We are all one on this earth, in this community, at this school. We’re forever connected in our love for our kids, our dedication to quality public education and our life experiences.

McBride Annex is a hidden gem. Our kids are fortunate to feel like big fish in a little pond and we would like to keep it that way.

Thank You.
Lisa Doucette
Proud Parent of 2 McBride Annex Students