For young children, the idea of starting school can be a scary one. To help ease any fears, there is the Strong Start Early Learning Program.
There are three programs in the district, one at Nakusp Elementary School, one at Lucerne Elementary Secondary School in New Denver, and the Southern Zone Outreach Strong Start in Burton, Faquier, and Edgewood.
Strong Start uses carefully selected programs and activities such as arts and crafts, gym time, library time, music time, and more to help promote social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and early literacy development in each child.
“They can learn how to share, they learn songs, they learn through play,” said Nancy Bone, the Strong Start co-ordinator in School District 10. “They learn from what’s being modelled.”
There are currently 59 children enrolled in Strong Start at Nakusp Elementary School. There are usually around 23 children in the morning, with about 15-17 parents. Afternoons are quieter, with around half a dozen or so children coming in.
Bone says she has noticed that the number of children being registered is increasing recently, and thinks this is a great thing.
“I think with enrolment increasing it shows that our kindergarten classes are going to be larger in the few years to come, and that’s wonderful,” she said. “It also shows how important this program is, and that for the parents to come and use it, we know that it’s a good start for them. The early years are very important.”
Many parents agree, including Kallee Ewanchuck. She and her family moved to Nakusp about a year ago, and has been taking her children, one of whom is almost ready for pre-school, to the program ever since.
“I love it,” she said. “I love that he has the opportunity to do things that he would be doing in elementary or preschool, he gets to play in the gym, and do songs, and snack time, and learns routine, which is important.”
Registering for the program is easy. If a parent has a child aged five or under, all they need to do is bring the child’s birth certificate or care card to the school, and can register in the building.
There are rules to follow as well when taking part in Strong Start.
Children must be kept home if they have or have recently had an illness such as the flu, pink eye without treatment, head lice without treatment, or if they are not feeling well enough to play. A parent pr caregiver must be in attendance with their own child at all times, and are expected to clean up after snack and playing with toys. The biggest rule is to laugh, enjoy, and have fun playing with your little ones.