I LOVE STRONGSTART. My 17 month old daughter LOVES StrongStart. Any of my friends who have attended StrongStart with their child(ren) LOVE StrongStart!
If you have not had the chance to take your infant/toddler/child to StrongStart, do yourself a huge favour and try it out one day… maybe even tomorrow!
The who/what/where/when/why of StrongStart:
Who? – Parents of kids aged 0-5 years old are welcome to partake in their local StrongStart program. I personally believe it is the most entertaining, beneficial and fun for toddlers (ages 1 year-4 years). Having said that, I first brought my daughter at 10 months and she had a great time in the ‘baby area’ of the room.
What? – StrongStart is a FREE program that is run by the Government of BC public school system. The program facilitators, a.k.a the teachers, are certified in Early Childhood Education (E.C.E.). Each classroom is laid-out in a way that mimics a typical preschool/kindergarten classroom. There are different stations/areas in the room such as a painting easel, a reading corner, an art table, a puzzle corner, etc. Your child is free to move from one area to the next (under your and the teacher’s supervision) and experiment with the variety of stations, toys, materials in the room. Additionally, the teachers will often have an area reflecting a theme, such as bugs or nature or trucks (or… or… or…) and there will be a selection of books and other materials for your child to explore.
Where?- On the North Shore, there are 9 schools which host a StrongStart classrorom (7 in North Vancouver and 2 in West Vancouver). Check one out close to your home or you can even do a ‘StrongStart hop’ if you would like to find the one that suits you/your child best. Some of the schools tend to cater to older children, based on the demographic of the children who attend. You might want to search around for the classroom (and teacher) that you feel most comfortable with. Click here to see a list of all the schools in B.C. that have a StrongStart classroom
When?- StrongStart typically runs half days, Monday-Friday for most locations. Each school has a different schedule so you would need to contact the school of your choice to find out if the program runs in the morning or afternoon. The day-to-day schedule is the same as whichever elementary school it is located in, so if there are holidays or there is a professional development day for that particular school, StrongStart will not be in session either. StrongStart is designed to be a drop-in in order to accomodate all types of family situations. Whether you feel like going for 30 minutes or 3 hours, you are welcome to come and go as you please, which is a nice option compared to most programs which have days and times that may not necessarily conform to your child’s schedule.
Why? – There are many reasons why I think StrongStart is such an incredible program. Here are just a few of these reasons: 1) Social interaction is an important part of your child’s life. StrongStart offers your child the opportunity to interact and engage with other children, a teacher, and other adults as well. 2) For parents, being at home alone with a child all day can start to feel a bit isolating, so it is also a great chance for you to get out and meet other parents in your neighbourhood or community. 3) The winters can be long, dark and wet on the North Shore. It is a great place to go to get out of the house and stimulate your child! 4) The kids LOVE it! Children have so much fun at StrongStart and, let’s face it, a happy kidlet is a happy parent!
I hope that this post will encourage anyone who has not yet taken their child to StrongStart to, well, take your child to StrongStart!
Happy playing and learning!
North Shore Mama
1) The first time you attend, you will need to bring your child’s birth certificate and some identification of your home address to be kept on file.
2) Although there is a teacher in the classroom, this is meant to be a time for you and your child(ren) to interact through play in various forms. This is not a babysitting service! (But there WILL be a fresh pot of hot coffee awaiting your arrival!)