New learning centre in Hope

Facility incorporates a holistic approach to early childhood education

The connections to nature program at Hope Preschool & Daycare Centre includes daily discoveries in nature with Peggy Van den Heuvel and monthly planned outdoor experiences with Stephanie Hooker of the Hope Mountain Centre.

With September just around the corner, spaces are filling up quickly at Hope Preschool & Daycare Centre.

Owner Lousha Angel opened the facility in January, fulfilling a life-long dream of establishing a program that incorporates a holistic approach to early childhood education.

“I felt it was essential to create a program that nurtured children and where children felt nurtured,” said Angel, who has been involved in childcare for 26 years and managed different programs around the region. “What we provide for the children is the reciprocal relationship between the child, teacher and environment.”

The Reggio Emilia and Waldorf-inspired program at Hope Preschool & Daycare Centre encourages children to use all their senses and seek a greater understanding through observation, analysis and piecing together what they experience. The goal is to facilitate communication, collaboration and independence amongst the children, teachers, parents and community.

Play areas are purposely set up to present opportunities for children’s discovery and learning. This ranges from painting on easels to imagination playscapes. The outdoor play yard, for example, incorporates natural wood play structures, organic garden beds produced by the children, mason bees, stumps, logs, rocks, workbenches, a large sandbox and mud table.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to connect children to real life experiences through nature,” said Angel. “I believe that teaching children to take care of the environment, to be responsible for the environment and to understand how things work in nature will ultimately help them to be caring individuals for the environment. Another thing we do is bring animals into the program to teach not only empathy but that caring for animals is part of having an animal.”

Angel pointed out the learning environment is always changing, reshaping and rediscovering itself based on the children’s interests, needs or the seasons.

“The aesthetics of the environment are just as important as the different centres that children will explore and learn at,” she said. “How we present the environment is in such a way that not only nurtures the child, but evokes the child to learn and discover. As the child is discovering, we’re there to facilitate learning and expand on their learning.”

Educators use inquiry, imagination and the expansion of ideas with the children, and while doing so, document these “learning moments” and experiences daily.

“We will put these experiences in binders or on the bulletin board so parents are always involved in what is going on with their children,” added Angel.

The preschool program focuses on many types of learning models to help prepare children for kindergarten. They get an opportunity to take part in a variety of programs including connections to nature, artistic expressions, music, fine arts, yoga, community connections, and outdoor programs offered by Hope Mountain Centre. There are also field trips and outings planned throughout the year.

Angel has four qualified educators working with her to deliver the programs, each with their own special interest. Daycare is provided Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the preschool program runs daily from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Hope Preschool & Daycare Centre is located at 310 Queen St. For more information, call 604-869-6555 or visit the Hope Preschool & Daycare Centre Facebook page.