The francophone school in Rossland is one of four in the province rolling out a pilot program for four-year-olds.
L’école des Sept-sommets is one of four schools in School District 93 — a public school district that runs francophone schools across the province — that will have classrooms for four year olds.
“It’s the same as the junior kindergarten that you would find in Ontario or Manitoba, for example,” explains Marie-Josée Beaulieu, principal at Sept-sommets. “There’s an educator in each classroom, an ECE (early childhood educator), as you would find in a pre-school program, and some schools have a teacher as well, it just depends on the ratio.”
The goal of the program is to ensure the academic success of its students and help them to be better prepared when they start kindergarten.
“[There’s] lots of time outside learning by being in the community and in nature, and also there’s a big emphasis on learning by play,” says Beaulieu.
Sept-sommets will be accepting children who were born in 2013 for the 2017-18 year school year and hosted an open house for parents last week.
Originally, Sept-sommets was supposed to start the program this year, and it was intended to be a two-year pilot program, but the school has run into some problems getting the required license. “Because the kids are four years old, we have to go through licensing the same way a daycare or preschool would,” explains Beaulieu.
An educator has already been hired and is waiting to start, and eight students were registered to participate in the program this year. Beaulieu hopes those students may be able to start in upcoming weeks. “But we’re also looking for a new cohort to start next year.”
The four-year-olds will start school at the same time as the rest of their school mates with a 15-minute transition period at the beginning and end of the day when their parents can spend time with them in the classroom.
“They could take their parents and show them what they learned, what they play with,” says Beaulieu.
The program is being financed by SD 93, rather than the BC Ministry of Education, and the other schools participating are in Mission, Chilliwack and Kelowna.
Visit csf.bc.ca/csf-eng/admissions for School District 93’s admission guidelines. Contact l’école des Sept-sommets at 250-362-3395 to ask about registering your child.