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Nov 13
Early learning programs provide stepping stones to starting school

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For children aged three and four, the Ready, Set, Learn program is an important stepping stone toward starting school. The sessions feature play-based learning activities and strive to connect caregivers and parents with each other and local resources to create a network of support.

RSL.jpgEach year, the one to two-hour sessions are focused around a book. This year's book pick and theme is I'm Dreaming of… Animals of the Native Northwest, by Melaney Gleeson–Lyall. 

Surrey Schools joins many local partners in connecting participants to resources in the community through the program. Some past community partners have been Surrey LibrariesFraser HealthAwashuk AHS,Newton Early Years CentreCCRR,United Way,Options, and Alexandra House.

The Ready, Set, Learn program is sponsored by the BC Ministry of Education, and takes place at all 101 Surrey elementary schools on specific dates in the new year. Dates and registration for the 2018-19 school year can be found HERE. This past year, more than 450 children participated in the program, along with their caregivers. 

For the past three years, the Guildford area has piloted a Thrive version of the program, which brings together five schools in one session at the Guildford Recreation Centre. This means that children and caregivers who would have visited the individual sessions at Forsyth, Holly, Hjorth Road, MJ Shannon, or Riverdale Elementary schools, have gathered all together to connect and build community through crafts, reading and gaining knowledge of local support systems.

The Thrive model, says district principal Karen Alvarez, has been very successful. Last year, 200 children and 175 caregivers took part in Guildford. The Frank Hurt Secondary family of schools has a Thrive model planned for this year, and Alvarez hopes one will come together in South Surrey as well, so families can join the session nearest them in North, Central and South Surrey neighbourhoods. 

Along with Ready, Set, Learn, Surrey Schools offers many early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The information sheet for all 2018-19 programs can be found here.

The PALS program (Parents as Literacy Supporters) provides caregivers with strategies to support learning at home for three- and four-year-olds at the schools listed here. iPals (PALS for immigrant families) is offered at four schools: Chantrell Creek (Chinese), Hjorth Road (Arabic), Newton (Punjabi) and Strawberry Hill (Somali).

The StrongStart program is also offered in Surrey schools, and is another great way to learn to support children's learning at home. For more information about the locations and calendar, check here.

For resources regarding preschool and daycare centres in Surrey, more information can be found here.

~ story by Laura Johnston.


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