Before young children enter the school system, they learn everything they know from their parents. That’s why new Invermere and Edgewater Strong Start facilitator Stephanie Turner wants to help parents teach their kids to prepare them for school later on in life.
“The Strong Start program is based on the idea that children and their parents come to a school and learn together,” Turner said. “Kids get to learn important social skills, and can also get comfortable in a school setting before entering kindergarten.”
The program, which caters to children aged 0 to 6, is entirely on a drop-in basis. Parents are free to bring their children whenever they want and stay for however long they are able. Turner runs the program in Invermere at Eileen Madison Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 to 11 a.m., and at Edgewater Elementary Wednesdays and Fridays at the same time. Strong Start is also offered in Canal Flats at Martin Morigeau, and is run by facilitator Pattie May. The program is free for all participants, and is a Ministry of Education program.
Turner, who moved to Invermere from Montreal in July, formerly worked with children with special needs, and holds a diploma in special care counselling.
“I just love watching the kids learn, and watching them start to use their imaginations,” Turner said.
“For example, during arts and crafts I will tell them what to make, or draw, but I won’t provide an example, and it’s wonderful to see the kids do it their way.”
According to the Strong Start BC website, the early learning programs also have benefits for the adults attending, as well as the children. “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.”
For more information about the program visit bced.gov.bc.ca/early_learning/strongstart_bc/.