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“Early Years” mornings help preschoolers, and their parents, build connections

The gym at Smithville’s John Calvin Christian School (JCCS) is almost always filled with the delightful sounds of kids having fun. Once a month, however, the voices heard come from a particularly younger set.

Through the initiative of the JCCS promotions committee, an Early Years morning for moms of preschool-age children has been running for over a year now. The idea was that often in the preschool years, parents and children never have the opportunity to actually visit the school. This means that when their children eventually do start kindergarten, it can be quite overwhelming and unfamiliar for them.

The preschool years are also a time when parents might feel disconnected from the larger community and the school and when it comes time to be making decisions about pre-tuition etc., they have no feelings of personal connection to the school. In an effort to close that gap, the Early Years morning initiative was born, and it has turned out to provide so much more than an introduction to the school.

Once a month (on random days of the week so that the same class does not miss Phys Ed) the gym is set up into stations. Gym mats are laid out and at each station are different types of toys, like Thomas the Train sets, Paw Patrol figurines and trucks, a kitchen with dress-up clothes, and a craft and coloring table.

All moms, dads and grandparents with preschool-age children are invited to attend, including those who already have older children in school. For the first hour and a half the children play at all the different stations, meeting their future peers and burning off some energy. The parents or grandparents stay close by and chat with others while enjoying the coffee and baking provided. A toonie donation per child covers the cost of some of the expenses that occur (new toys, snacks and craft items). When playtime is finished the toys are put back in buckets and set against the stage wall for Grade 6 to come and clean up later (thanks Grade 6!).

The children enjoy a snack while all the mats are pulled together. Then it’s time for circle time and boy, is that energetic! The children have a fun story read to them and sing songs – the animal freeze dance song is a crowd favorite. If the weather allows, everyone heads outside to the playground after circle time to enjoy the sunshine; and if the weather is cold or rainy, parents are invited to bring a clean bike or trike and the kids have some fun riding around in the gym.

The morning has been well received by all and is such a blessing for the community. Parents have reported that they love seeing their children interact with other kids. Kindergarten students have told their teacher with confidence that they know exactly where the gym is, as well as all the toys (and that very loud recess bell is not quite as scary anymore!). Relationships have been made as moms from different churches (we have five feeder churches at JCCS) enjoy conversation and fellowship. The Early Years mornings have created an opportunity to bring together the communion of saints and develop a love for our school, and what a blessing that is!

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