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Jul 19
Little Eaglets program takes pre-kindergarten Indigenous students under wing

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An elder speaks to children in the Little Eaglets, a program for young Indigenous students to learn about their culture and prepare pre-kindergarten students for the transition to their catchment school.


It may still be early summer, but with a new school year quickly approaching, the district's Little Eaglets program is preparing young Indigenous learners for kindergarten.

The purpose of the Little Eaglets program is to encourage kindergarten registration prior to September and connect Indigenous families with their catchment schools, so the transition from home to school is as smooth as possible for new students and their caregivers.

The program, which runs at one site for two weeks in July, features arts, crafts and activities such as beading and weaving that have cultural components, with an emphasis on Indigenous identity.

"Every day, we try to get something different to present to them that is part of their culture," said Leah Drayton, Early Learning & StrongStart Coordinator with the district. "We had an elder come to do storytelling with the children, we had traditional dancers come, we had cultural workers from the district in Aboriginal Learning that come and we Skyped with a member of the Katzie First Nation."

She said the program initially began as a spinoff of Play, Connect, Learn, but grew to 80 children in five classrooms pre-COVID. While the pandemic limited the size of the program last year to just 18 students, Drayton said Little Eaglets is now running four classrooms with up to 12 students per class.

Drayton said the goal Little Eaglets is to help Indigenous families feel comfortable coming into the schools, and the program has proven to be successful in doing just that. Many children have wanted to come back after kindergarten, prompting the expansion of the program to older grades, up to students entering Grade 5.

"The families just keep coming back and their younger siblings come too – they look forward to it," she said.

For more information about Little Eaglets, contact Early Learning District Principal Jackie Howard at howard_j@surreyschools.ca

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