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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.

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.

MID-SUMMER MUSE….

ONLY 37 SLEEPS UNTIL PRESCHOOL!!!

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

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.

VANCOUVER START SMART PRESCHOOL TEAMS UP WITH THE

MCBRIDE ANNEX SPRING FAIR THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 2nd!

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 http://www.mountain-view.ca/2012/05/mcbride-annex-spring-fair—june-2nd.html

 

Meet and Greet Us on May 19th

On Saturday, May 19th, Vancouver Start Smart Preschool will be having another community “meet and greet” event at  Dean’s nofrills – Fraser St   located at 4508 Fraser Street.  We will be on location from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, just inside the front door.

This is a great opportunity for new friends to acquaint themselves with Miss Rebecca and chat in a neighborhood environment about the Start Smart approach.  It is also a great way for the community to learn about the new non-profit Fine Arts Preschool opening in the neighborhood.  Our display will showcase artwork by past students, and we’d be delighted to tell you all about our program and our school.

Of course, we will also be accepting registrations for the last remaining spots in our September 2012 afternoon classes.

If you would like to touch bases with us and view our display of student artwork, please stop by. We’d love to meet you and have the chance to answer your questions!

We invite you to bring the kids and come say hello!

Find us at:                                                                                                                              No Frills. lower food prices™.

Dean’s nofrills – Fraser St    4508 Fraser Street, Vancouver from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

 

Afternoon Spaces Filling Fast!

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

If your child is 4 years old (born in 2008), the 3 day Monday/Wednesday and Friday afternoon classes are perfect for preparing your child’s readiness for full day Kindergarten next year. If you are a neighbour of the McBride Annex (and live in the school catchment) 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 a chance to learn and socialize in a Fine Arts “school” setting.

If your child is 3 years old (born in 2009), the 2 day Tuesday and Thursday afternoon classes are 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.

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.

Continue reading Notes from a parent

Registration Update

Our Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning class is now full. There are still some spots available in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday afternoon class . The Tuesday/Thursday morning and afternoon classes still have spots available, but are filling up quickly.

If possible, please preregister on-line as this will ensure you a placement for your child in your desired program’s day and time. Upon preregistration, we will send you confirmation and instructions for final registration.

For those who would prefer only Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning classes, you may contact us to be placed on the waiting list. Waiting list placements will be based on a first-served basis on availability due to withdrawals. Preference will be given to those who register for the Monday/ Wednesday/Friday afternoon class.

Just a reminder that you can register at McBride Annex, in person, on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 from 9:00 am until 3 pm. Payment is due upon registration and may be made by cheque.

For further information, contact us at [email protected].

Registration Day Is Wednesday, April 11!

When: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2012
Time: 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Where: McBride Elementary School Annex in Room 118
4750 St. Catherines Street, Vancouver

If you have already pre-registered your child online, come by any time that suits you. For those who have not yet pre-registered, come early to reserve your place as classes will fill up quickly.

When you arrive, we will ask you to complete the full Registration form and provide the documentation listed in the Registration Checklist. Don’t forget to bring your own photocopies of your child’s birth certificate and immunization records.

Please be prepared to provide cheque payment of the non-refundable annual registration fee, as well as one month’s school fee.

For our complete registration package, please email us at [email protected] and we will send it along