A Strong Start for School
About a dozen children stop playing games to follow their teacher who wears a long blue Superman cape and carries an old fashioned suitcase. They follow him excitably to the centre of the colourful classroom and sit quietly in a semi-circle with their parents. A hush falls across the room as StrongStart educator Steven Pedersen sits calmly on a chair and draws a puppet pack rat from the old suitcase to announce that it is story time. The children, ranging from infants to age five are participating with their parents in Tillicum Annex's StrongStart early learning program.
Pedersen was pleased to welcome officials including Mary McNeil, Minister of State for Olympics, Vancouver School Board trustees Jane Bouey and Mike Lombardi and Superintendent of Schools Laurie Anderson to his class on November 27 to celebrate the opening of the Strong Start program at Tillicum Annex.
StrongStart BC early learning programs, supported by the Ministry of Education, provide play-based early learning services for adults and young children, aged birth to five, at no cost to families. The Vancouver School Board now has 18 Strong Start Centres in elementary schools and annexes throughout the city.
Mary McNeil, Minister of State for Olympics visited Tillicum to bring wishes on behalf of Education Minister Margaret McDiarmid. McNeil, a grandmother of 12, praised the StrongStart BC programs, "What StrongStart is all about is allowing every child the opportunity to reach their potential."
Qualified early childhood educators, such as Pedersen, lead learning activities including stories, music and art to help children get ready for success in Kindergarten. Pedersen's imaginative classroom displays his vibrant personality and includes stations for painting, playing with craft making materials, a library, tree house and a light table.
"StrongStart Centres are a small but valued, piece of the continuum of services that support children and families," said Vancouver School Board Trustee Jane Bouey. "What children, as well as their parents and caregivers, learn from their experiences is extremely valuable and most importantly, fun."
Both children and adults benefit from StrongStart BC early learning programs - children have access to high-quality learning environments and benefit from social interactions while the adults who accompany them learn new ways to support learning, both at the program and at home.
Parents and caregivers attending StrongStart BC programs are encouraged to participate in organized sessions such as story time, play activities, and serving a healthy snack to the children.
Nanci Farrell, VSB's Early Learning Co ordinator said that StrongStart makes a difference in how successful a child will be when entering school. She also pointed out that parents, grandparents and caregivers are likely to discover new ways to support their children's learning at home, and may make valuable connections with others attending the program.
Strong Start Centres
- Britannia Elementary
- Captain James Cook Elementary
- Champlain Heights Annex
- Collingwood Neighbourhood (Bruce Annex)
- David Lloyd George Elementary
- Florence Nightingale Elementary
- Henderson Annex
- Lord Nelson Elementary
- Lord Selkirk Elementary
- Maquinna Annex
- Mt. Pleasant Elementary
- Queen Alexandra Elementary
- Sir Alexander MacKenzie Elementary
- Sir Wilfred Grenfell Elementary
- Tillicum Annex
- Thunderbird Elementary
- Walter Moberly Elementary
- Waverly Elementary