By LeRae Haynes —
Canada celebrates National Child Day on November 20 in recognition of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child. One place in Williams Lake where children are celebrated year round is Sacred Heart Preschool where 47 kids are currently enrolled in various sessions throughout the week.
Sacred Heart Preschool and daycare manager Tina Weber, who has been at the school for over 10 years, says working with young kids is satisfying and refreshing. “Children are genuine,” she explains. “They say it as it is and their hearts are true. They can say, ‘I love you’ and they truly do.
Our responsibility as teachers is to impart a positive sense of self-worth. Everybody may not be the best at everything, but everyone is good at something and has something to offer”
“I think they’re like precious little sponges, and when your heart is in the right place you have so much to teach them. You see the progress from when they start a school year, learning to do things like use a pair of scissors or put the right arms into the right sleeves of their coat—a real milestone. It’s such a rewarding feeling to be part of that.”
She says each month they do a learning theme with the kids. “This month we started with space, and then decided to go with camping and summer fun—what the kids did over the summer. ‘Did you go camping? Did you sleep in a tent? What kinds of things did you and your family get to do this summer?’
“Being outdoors is important for kids; weather permitting we take them outside every day.”
Staff also get the kids connected to what’s going on in the community. “For example, if it’s fire safety week we arrange a tour of the local fire station, or if there’s a western theme, we take them to the cowboy museum,” says Weber.
“I’ve been here more than 10 years; I love it here. I really love the kids, but I think what really makes us unique is the staff. Everybody’s amazing and always willing to help out. Even when the daycare side is really busy, the staff will step in to help where they’re needed and vise versa. We mesh really well—that’s huge,” she says.
“Our responsibility as teachers is to impart a positive sense of self-worth. Everybody may not be the best at everything, but everyone is good at something and has something to offer. We need to teach them to be respectful and thankful for the things that we have.”
“I love having snacks at school,” says four-year-old Deneige Hogg.“Today I had Goldfish and an orange that I opened up myself. It’s fun playing outside, having stories, and it’s a good place to make friends.”
Kayden Trott, also four years old, agrees, adding that one of his favourite things to do is make a craft. “I like to make paint and paper campfires the best. I really like to go camping: it’s fun to go the playground, sleep in a 5th wheel and go swimming and go in a boat.”
I think it’s important for kids to be in a group and learn to get along with other kids, be an individual and get used to another adult in their lives”
Weber says when you instill positive self-esteem and respect for others you help create a good environment.
“Empathy is important,” he says. “When you see something going on you take time to talk it through, asking things like, ‘How would you feel?’ We really try to have everyone belong. We are all friends here. We strive for a very comfortable, respectful, nurturing environment where everyone is kind to each other and is aware of other people’s feelings.
“I think it’s important for kids to be in a group and learn to get along with other kids, be an individual and get used to another adult in their lives,” she adds. “Once they hit kindergarten it’s a whole new world, and things like preschool and StrongStart gives them a great preparation.”
Weber adds there are advantages for kids who come to preschool and stay for kindergarten. “They start kindergarten knowing the school, the playground, the gym, the teachers, and many of the other kids,” she says. “The school is small and people are friendly and caring – everybody knows everybody else. It’s like a great big family and I think that’s important.”
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, songwriter, co-producer of “Pursicles,” and the community co-ordinator for Success by 6. She is also the instigator of a lot of musical shenanigans in Williams Lake including “Borderband” with kids and is a member of the “Perfect Match” dance band.