Category Archives: News

Around Town with the Wee Ones 2nd Edition, February 2016 By Krista Wilson

Around Town with the Wee Ones                   2nd Edition  February 2016

Kid-Friendly Cafes…

CIRCUS Play Cafe

Ideal for toddlers and preschoolers, this Scandi designed café offers a gorgeous play area and cafe. With something for every kid’s interest, there’s a kitchen, dollhouse, and workbench zone, and a couple of climb and slide structures. There are also blocks, books, discovery box toys and comfortable seating for you and your child to enjoy them. Everything is wood and clean, and there’s even a bin for parents to set aside toys that had a little too much love and need a cleaning. The well-designed space offers a clear view of the play area from all café seating, where you can enjoy a delicious pastry and caffeine fix. Cost is $7 for the first child and $4 for additional walkers. A two-hour maximum stay is enforced during busy times. CIRCUS also offers parenting and baby workshop, art and yoga classes, and birthday parties.                              1650 East 12th Ave @ Commercial

Shuk Eat & Play

Recently opened Shuk is another addition to the play cafe format, where you can enjoy a coffee while the kids are happily playing. There are two areas, one for climbing, swinging and sliding, while the other has a playhouse and is more suited to younger children. Try the Shakshuka or other Israeli food made on site. If you need to cross a few items off your to-do list or your child needs to expend some energy on a rainy day, this is the perfect spot. The play area is free until February 10th, after which you will pay $5 for one child and $2.50 per additional child. Check hours before going. Closed Saturdays. Watch for some free play passes up for grabs on the bulletin board outside the preschool classroom!   5750 Oak @ 41st Ave

Free, Under $5 or By Donation …                           (It is the new year, after all)

Vancouver Art Gallery

The Art Gallery now offers free kids’ programs every Sunday. Families can tour the galleries, led by an entertaining “Art Agent,” or participate in The Making Place, a hands-on workshop where kids create their own masterpieces inspired by the exhibits. Check website for monthly themes. Sundays 12-4. Free for kids under age 12.

Vancouver Public Library/Vancouver Inspiration Pass

The VPL offers a huge range of programs for children. Some special events coming up next month include Lunar New Year Puppet Shows—celebrating the lunar new year—and Family Literacy Day: Family Fort Night—build a fort and share stories by flashlight. Check branches for dates. A very popular offering of the VPL is the Vancouver Inspiration Pass, a free cultural and recreational pass that allows you to access museums, art galleries, and musical performances, among others—all for free. Each branch has 6 to 8 two-week passes and about 500 people on each wait list, so sign up now and experience Vancouver’s most popular attractions and cultural events when your kids are a couple of years older! Tip: You can call the branch to find out where you are on the wait list. If you plan to be away near the time you expect to receive the pass, ask them to put your request on hold before you go away.

Southlands Farm

Experience farm life at this working community farm with horses, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and more. Wander around the gardens and ponds and learn about the Southlands ecosystem. They offer preschool pony camps and interactive birthday party tours. Spend Family Day, February 8, on the farm for a scavenger hunt, marshmallow roast and pony rides. Around Easter time watch for sheep shearing, hatching of the chicks and beautiful orchards of blooming daffodils. All in all, it’s a great day of exploring and learning with the family. Open 10-5, except Family Day 11-4. Admission by donation. 6767 Balaclava St

Cineplex Family Favourites

Catch a show on a rainy Saturday at participating Cineplex theatres for only $2.99. Hotel Transylvania 2 plays on February 13. Every Saturday at 11am until March 19. For movies and theatre listings visit

Inspiration for our Little Performers…                                          

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Kids’ Koncerts

Introduce your child to the beauty and power of orchestral music through these 45-minute concerts offered by the VSO. The Kids’ Koncerts series boasts the full orchestra, teamed with children’s musical entertainers. Two shows remain in the series of five: Mozart’s music is featured in the February show, while in May things get downright wacky when Al Simmons takes to the stage with the Orchestra. These fun concerts are designed for children age 4 (recommended) to 11 years of age and their families. Arrive up to one hour before the show to take part in the Instrument Fair in the lobby, where children can touch and play the instruments. $19 kids/$24 seniors/$29 adults

Go, Dog. Go!

What could be more perfect for a preschooler’s first play than P.D. Eastman’s kids book Go, Dog. Go! The production is described as “P. D. Eastman’s classic children’s book comes to life on stage in an exploration of movement, color, and music. The dogs delve into life with gusto, creating a visual spectacle for the audience to feast upon. They snorkel. They howl at the moon. They ride a Ferris Wheel. They sing and dance and climb trees. The musical’s bustle and commotion pauses every so often for a moment or two of reflection, and then sweeps us again into the whirlwind of these lovable and goofy dogs.” The show is recommended for 3-8 year olds and runs February 27 – March 20 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island. There are a few “all-ages” shows in March where children under three may attend; lighting and sound is adjusted to suit these young patrons. $18 preschoolers/$35 adults

2014-2015 Preschool Calendar

Vancouver Start Smart Preschool operates on the same schedule as the public school system. We are closed for all statutory and public school holidays, as well as professional development days.

September 2 First Day for Tuesday/Thursday 3 year old classes– gradual entry in effect
September 3 First Day for Monday/Wednesday/Friday 4 year old classes–gradual entry in effect
September 8 First Full Day for  Monday/Wednesday/Friday 4 year old classes
September 9 First Full Day for Tuesday/Thursday 3 year old classes
September 26 No Preschool: Teacher Professional Development Day
October 13 Thanksgiving Day – No  Preschool
October 24 No Preschool: Teacher Professional Development Day
November 10–11 Remembrance Day — No Preschool
November 28 No Preschool: Teacher Professional Development Day
December 20 Winter vacation period starts:  Christmas Break — No Preschool
January 5 Schools reopen after Winter vacation
January 19 No Preschool: Teacher Professional Development Day
February 9 BC Family Day – No  Preschool
February 19 No Preschool: Teacher Professional Development Day
March 7–March 22 Spring vacation — No Preschool
March 23 Schools reopen after Spring vacation
April 3–April 6 Good Friday and Easter Break – No Preschool
April 27 No Preschool: Teacher Professional Development Day
May 18 Victoria Day – No  Preschool
June 18 Last Day for Tuesday/Thursday 3 year old classes
June 19 Last Day for Monday/Wednesday/Friday 4 year old classes

Vancouver Start Smart Preschool brings Arts-based Educational Play to the Community

A Community Impact Story from VanCity

Vancouver Start Smart Preschool is a new not-for-profit preschool in southeast Vancouver that places fine arts and “intentional play” at the heart of its practice. The preschool’s goal is to harness the educational potential of play, allowing children ages three to five to explore aspects of dance, drama, music and visual arts while developing foundational skills that will serve them as they advance into kindergarten and elementary school. Vancouver Start Smart is also committed to providing an affordable preschool option, offering reasonable rates and assistance with accessing the BC Childcare Subsidy program.

Recognizing Vancouver Start Smart’s commitment to the southeast Vancouver community, as well as the value and uniqueness of its approach to preschool education, Vancity provided start-up capital for the preschool through its microfinance program.

Registration 2015-16


To register for the 2015-2016 preschool year, parents must preregister for available spots using the Registration page of the website.

Concerned about morning or afternoon preschool availability?  Please email [email protected] or call Vancouver Start Smart Preschool at 604-200-0559, and we will provided you with the most up to date information we have.

Have you received our Registration Package?  Please complete and return as directed.


A Moving Tale

The Untold Story of Vancouver Start Smart Preschool

The little Annex classroom had been dark and empty for many years.  It was dark—its doors were closed and locked, and its curtains were drawn.  It was empty—no furniture, no children,empty. 

Although the little Annex classroom was dark and empty, the little classroom still had memories—memories of happy children learning new things, memories of happy children making new friends, singing songs, and playing games. It was the memories that gave the little Annex classroom hope.

But as the days passed, all the little classroom could hear were the sounds of a distant playground, the sounds of a school bell ringing once or twice a day, but never did any happy children coming into its room.

The little Annex classroom had almost given up, and had started to think that dust and emptiness would be all that happen to it, when without warning one day, the outside door opened, the light came on, and a bright, cheerful voice said, “this will make a great preschool!” The little Annex classroom did not exactly know what a preschool was but it started to hope…it hoped for many new children, it hoped for happy songs and dances, it hoped for beautiful artwork to adorn its walls, and it hoped for more adventures—imaginary pirate ships, imaginary castles and princes and princesses, imaginary hospitals and doctors, imaginary policemen and construction workers.

Just imagine….” the little Annex classroom thought, “maybe one day I will be useful and active again.” But then the darkness returned, the emptiness came back. The long ago memories of happy children started to fade into long ago of silence of dreamland…

…Until suddenly the little Annex room heard a loud noise—the noise of a big truck, the noise of a door opening, and the noise of a friendly voice, saying… “Hello little room, you are going to be our new preschool.”  The little room could hardly believe what its walls were hearing. But in walked Miss Rebecca and Miss Selena, the new teachers, with the driver of the big truck. He asked, “ Where do you want me to put the new preschool learning toys?”

Just over here,” said Miss Rebecca.

Where do you want me to put the art tables?” said the driver.

Just over here,” said Miss Selena.

And where does the train set go?”  The little room started to glow with happy thoughts.

Where does the castle and the dollhouse go? What about the workbench and the tool boxes? Where do the costumes go? And the cars and trucks and shakers and drums and puzzles and games and…”  The little room could hardly believe it… new toys, new imaginations, new musical instruments, new drums, new paints, new papers,….new everything! And the little room started to dream again. 

I wonder where the kids are,” the little room thought. And then it listened hard with its walls and it heard the new teachers say that “the children will be coming soon, in just 15 more sleeps.”

How fun! thought the little classroom, and settled into a night of dreaming about castles and fairy princesses and dragons and heroes, but best of all its new little friends—children playing and singing and dancing and drawing and painting and learning about the world they live in.



We can’t wait to see you all! For some of you … it will be meeting for the first time! We are so excited!

Just this week one of our preschool parents walked by McBride Annex and saw the preschool room door open! Taking a peek, she found that VSB Maintenance was on site doing the renovation for our small ‘kitchenette’. We are waiting for the reno to be completed.  Its completion will mean that in the next several weeks we can move in with all our new preschool furniture and begin our actual preschool classroom set up. We are looking forward to this immensely!

For us it has been like Christmas in July as we purchase all the toys, educational materials and the art supplies (my favorite!!) One of our little students told me on Registration day that I needed to remember to buy trucks…he will be happy to know that Miss Rebecca has kept this in her mind all summer and several lovely trucks will be parked in the preschool come opening day!! There will also be new dollies, and china tea sets, and stainless steel cooking pots for our play kitchen…and a wooden work bench with lots of tools, a train set and puzzles galore…just to name a few things!

In the next couple of weeks each of our preschool families will receive a letter with info about our start day and our gradual entry procedure. So please be on the lookout …

I hope everyone has a very wonderful ‘…rest of the summer…’ with your families!

Stay tuned….

Miss Rebecca

Some Afternoon Preschool Spots Still Available!

Register now to save your child a spot in our exciting, creativity-stimulating Fine Arts preschool program.

Is your child 4 years old (born in 2008)?  Then the 3 day Monday/Wednesday and Friday afternoon classes are perfect.  We have designed a great program that enables your child’s readiness for full day Kindergarten next year.

Is your child 3 years old (born in 2009)?  Then the 2 day Tuesday and Thursday afternoon classes are what you are looking for.  This class is a great introduction to experiencing learning and socialization in a safe and appropriate stimulating environment. Your child will grow and change in ways that surprise you.  Registering in this class assures you of priority registration¹ for the following year.

Are you a neighbour of McBride Annex? Do you live in the school’s catchment area?  Register and your child will have a head start in building friendships and being familiar with the school building and playground environments. If you are outside the McBride area, join in the fun with us—you may pick up an out of catchment placement if you like, but if your neighbourhood school is the best option for you, your child will still have the “start smart advantage” of learning and socializing in a Fine Arts setting.

¹Priority registration means Tuesday/Thursday morning becomes Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning the following year. Tuesday/Thursday afternoon becomes Monday/Wednesday/Friday afternoon.  Other openings are first come-first served.

Notes from a Parent

Why I chose the afternoon preschool class for my child – and am glad I did!

My child’s first year at our neighborhood preschool was Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The afternoon class was the only class available as the morning was full. I took it because the program with Fine Arts looked amazing. I had waited too long to decide about preschool. It was one of those things I’ve noticed about parenting where the child grows up faster than I expected, and preschool just snuck up on me. To register at the end of April meant it was the afternoon class or “no preschool” at all.

Knowing that the neighborhood preschool guaranteed me a 3 day, Monday/Wednesday/Friday spot for the following year if I registered for the 2 day program I decided it was worth it, even though I wasn’t sure that the afternoon class was “right”. Despite the time of the class, I felt that the Fine Arts program provided an advantage in terms of positive experiences for my child. So sign up we did!

But still I had concerns…

  1. No afternoon nap—how was this going to work?
  2. My child was a slow-eater and lunch was an ‘event’. Could I get him out the door on time, without a fuss?
  3. The last thing I wanted was a sleep-deprived, cranky kid for the evening hours.

In short, afternoon preschool seemed like a huge challenge and presented me with change that I really didn’t feel ready for or prepared to make. This was me at the end of April—full of questions, fears, worries, and concerns—but wanting to do right by my child.

My mother had a saying “What a difference a day makes!” (not that I always agree with her! lol). But in my case, it turned out that our family had almost 140 days—including all of May, June, July, August and the first week of September—until preschool started. What can I say, but that in that amount of time my child changed, “grew up”, and his needs became different in ways I hadn’t expected nor could I predict.

Yes, he still had a nap during those months but it began to be shorter, and some days the nap became a “quiet time”, a rest time with books, independent of me.

Was he tired after preschool? Some days more than others—and on those days he had a short “cat-nap” after school, no more than an hour so that he could be refreshed and pleasant for our early evening activities. Occasionally he would be a bit grouchy at his wakeup call, but over a period of time we got used to the new schedule and routine.

As to my “slow-eater”, well that hasn’t changed much! My solution was to change what I could control—the sandwich! Instead of a whole sandwich at noon with me cajoling him to “hurry up and eat”, or with noticeable frustration spend our lunch together with me “tapping my toe” and “clock-watching”, I give him half a sandwich—the other half goes to school in his backpack for snack-time and is eaten while socializing with his new friends. I am not frustrated and it eliminates the need to nag!

Do I get a cranky child for the late afternoon and early evening hours? Maybe a little, but not really! (honest!!!) After preschool, he is always tells lively stories, or plays and teaches us his little songs that he knows. But there are some days that bedtime might be earlier, but that’s about it.

When all is said and done, afternoon preschool has been great, and I’m glad we signed on. One thing I’ve come to realize as a parent is that changes in a child are inevitable. Nap times come and nap times go—it’s all a part of growing up! When I see my child fostering little friendships on his own at preschool, and see him experiencing paint and glue and clay and…stuff that I probably wouldn’t have thought of, or if I did I wouldn’t have wanted to clean up the mess…when I hear him singing little songs to himself or coming to me with big explanations that start with “…this is what teacher says…”, when after dinner (or just about any time) he surprises me with some dance “moves”… these are the times I know we made the right choice to register him in preschool as a 3 year old, even if it was in the afternoon.

Now as a 4 year old our child still attends the afternoon preschool class, but now it is 3 days a week. Why? Because the friends he met and the families and neighbors I met have formed our own little community within the larger preschool context.

And next year? My child and his friends will move on to ‘all-day kindergarten’—“oh, no…not another change!!”—but then, it’s just another chance to grow up, isn’t it?!

by Jenny I.

Visit Us at the McBride Annex Spring Fair



Come join the fun as we support our new preschool home and community at the 2012 annual McBride Annex School Spring Fair.

Miss Selina and Miss Rebecca are face-painting all day at this family-friendly, fun-filled, exciting carnival with games and activities for kids of all ages.   Funds raised will go towards purchasing a new playground for the school and extracurricular activities. Admission is Free.

See you there!

When:  Saturday, June 2nd from 11am to 3pm

Where: McBride Elementary Annex at 4750 St. Catherines Street (29th and St Catherines)



Come join the fun as we support our new preschool home and community at the          2012 annual McBride Annex School Spring Fair.

Miss Selina and Miss Rebecca will be face-painting all day at this family-friendly, fun-filled, exciting carnival with games and activities for kids of all ages.   Funds raised will go towards purchasing a new playground for the school and extracurricular activities. Admission is Free.

See you there!

When:  Saturday, June 2nd from 11am to 3pm

Where: McBride Elementary Annex at 4750 St. Catherines Street (29th and St Catherines)

Contact us at: [email protected]

For more information check out the Vancouver Mountainview Neighborhood website at—june-2nd.html