Early Years Partnership – Moving Forward
On October 17, elementary school principals and early years partners came together at the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) Board Office to continue growing a partnership between the division and early learning and child care (ELCC) partners from the community.
This evening of learning and planning together represents the next step in a journey that began back in October 2015 when the division began to explore how to build a bridge between two systems. The goal was to support a more seamless transition for young children as they move from child care into school.
The focus for the evening was finding opportunities for children and their parents to be welcomed into school communities as early as possible. Information and ideas were shared from different perspectives to frame the collaborative planning of teams. Marlene Murray, Assistant Superintendent highlighted the commitment of the Louis Riel School Board and Senior Leadership Team to fostering strong connections and partnerships with early years partners, as outlined in the new Multi-Year Strategic Plan under strategic goal 2.1. Bonnie Ash and Dawne Doyle, child care directors, shared their thoughts about important considerations from an early learning and child care perspective. Shelly Hopper, a school principal gave an overview of some of the welcoming practices currently in place across elementary schools in the division. Finally, a paper was shared that described the approach taken by one division to address the stressors related to school entry for parents, children and Kindergarten teachers.
Planning teams discussed the specific context of their community and the needs of the families in their care. They worked together to identify opportunities to welcome parents and children into school communities to increase their comfort in school environments well before starting school. This would be accomplished by developing familiarity with staff, various school environments and school layout and by exploring learning materials through play-based activities. Each planning group identified how they would begin to implement the first steps of their plan over the current school year. A few ideas that came to light included inviting families with young children to Family Learning & Literacy Nights, Gym Nights and School BBQs; welcoming children and child care staff into school facilities; sharing school events and activities through child care newsletters; collaboratively planning for child care partners to bring young children to the school on a "fieldtrip"; school principals visiting young children in their child care environment and providing opportunities for young children to join the Kindergarten class during April, May and June.
The journey to date has been informed by feedback and ideas offered by ELCC and division partners. The LRSD will continue to collect thoughts from these perspectives to guide future planning and actions