Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hitting the books early

By Katie RobinsonThe Progress

Jul 17 2007

Summer school started early for some kids in Chilliwack.

A large group of four and five year olds spent last week in a preschool literacy camp at Cheam elementary learning the basics for Kindergarten.

In the spring, Cheam elementary received funding through the Early Years Committee – a committee geared towards the development of children newborn to five years old – to create the program.

A variety of educational experts were invited to participate in the camp throughout the week. A music teacher performed action songs. A physical education specialist engaged in gross motor activities. A numeracy representative taught math lessons.

“It really gave these children a way of seeing what Kindergarten would be like,” said Cheam teacher-librarian Lisa Mazerolle, who created the program. “We really focussed on music, gross motor, numeracy and literacy. We tried to get the whole person health.”

Parents also had opportunity to learn.

A speech language pathologist showed parents how to further their child’s communication skills. A representative from Chilliwack Early Years discussed brain development. And a dental hygienist outlined proper teeth cleaning practices for young children to follow.

“We encouraged parents to stand back as much as their child felt comfortable, during various activity time, so that they could observe how their child relates to their peers, how they listen in groups and how they learn and interact in that sort of setting,” said Mazerolle. “And it was neat seeing the children become more and more comfortable with their peers as the days went by.

“In that way, we’ve prepared them socially for Kindergarten.”

The preschool literacy camp – which was free – had 18 participants and their parents. It expects to exceed that number next year if the program continues.

“I really do hope to continue it,” said Mazerolle. “I would think it would be a wise thing to do because it’s had such a positive response already.”

But it needs continued funding in order to continue the program.