Suzanne Lorimer (right) engages in some playful learning with a couple of youngsters at the Strong Start drop in.

Getting a Strong Start on early learning

The Strong Start program is a provincial program which aims to help vulnerable children, an we have it right here in Fort St. Jame.

The Strong Start Program helps give children across the province a leg up for kindergarten and life, and here in Fort St. James it is helping do just that.

Vulnerable children are from all socio-economic groups, according to Suzanne Lorimer, an early childhood educator who runs the local program at David Hoy School.

School District 91 (SD 91) has participated in provincial research looking at vulnerabilities in different areas and the results show there is work to be done.

The study looked at physical, social, emotional, language, and communication development across the province, and showed this district, and Fort St. James in particular are behind.

The provincial results, overall, showed over 30 per cent of children in kindergarten were vulnerable in at least one aspect of their development.

Within SD 91, this number was 33 per cent, but there were variations across the region as well.

Fort St. James had the highest rate of vulnerability in kindergarten students at 46 per cent, while Vanderhoof had the lowest rate at 26 per cent. The province, however, has set a goal of reducing vulnerabilities in children entering kindergarten to 15 per cent by 2015.

Programs like Strong Start are aimed directly at lowering these numbers and improving success for children in school.

“It’s an initiative they got right,” said Lorimer.

The free, school-based early learning program is for all children from birth to school-age.

The goal, according to Lorimer, is for more than just “learning the A, B, C’s.”

Instead, both parents and children can learn something, with parents learning how to foster learning in children and socializing as well, helping to broaden their networks of parents in the community.

Guided by an early learning framework, Lorimer said many of the goals of the program centre around “self-regulation” which help all of us be more successful in dealing with things.

The program tries to help foster learning through play of skill such as managing powerful emotions, using language to resolve conflict, waiting for a turn and paying attention even when it’s hard.

While Lorimer acknowledges many of us can’t do all of the self-regulation we should even as adults, the goal is to help foster those skills in children so they can do those things most of the time which makes them better able to learn in a classroom setting, but also as adults.

“It’s not a kindergarten boot camp,” said Lorimer.

She also helps parents access early interventions for speech and language if necessary.

“These early years are when we want to start these interventions,” she said.

She said it is easier to start children before they begin school, because parents are more involved.

The program in Fort St. James has been running for five years, and runs five days a week at David Hoy Elementary, with a range of hours so even working parents can bring their children by.

Most of the time is spent learning through play, however, there are snack times, reading, singing and tasks such as tidying up.

One parent said she brings her two daughters to the program and they just love it, especially her three-year-old who enjoys all of the puzzles.

The program gives her kids a chance to play with other children, something they otherwise would not get enough opportunities to do.

Strong Start BC

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Coastal GasLink prepares sites of construction work camps

Unist’ot’en condemn 14 ‘man camps’ housing 500-800 workers as threatening safety of women and children

TSKLH Nation sues Province over Brucejack mine revenue sharing

The Tsetsaut/Skii km Lax Ha seeks to assert rights and title in the area around Pretivm gold mine.

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Most Read