The search for early childhood development options for preschool children can take parents in many different directions. Today’s parents are keen on focusing on school readiness early, to give their child the best possible start when they begin kindergarten.
This journey begins as soon as a child is born, which is when these questions start swirling around in the minds of new parents. What school should my child attend? How do I get them ready to begin school?
Preparing for kindergarten involves much more than fostering an early love for learning. It’s about encouraging children to learn through play in a safe, stimulating environment, with their parents nearby. Introducing the school environment to children together, as a family, can have a long-lasting positive impact on a child’s educational journey. It’s similar to how reading to a child in infancy helps foster their love for books in the future.
EarlyON Centres offered by the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) are free play-based drop-in environments where children, ages 0-6, and their parents can focus on literacy, numeracy, school readiness, and learn more about community resources. Not only are the programs free of charge, but they offer a light nutritious snack to growing hungry bodies. These EarlyON Centres offer a terrific opportunity for children and their parents, or caregivers, to learn and play in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
“We have designated schools which offer this resource for anyone who may be interested, and it doesn’t matter which school they plan on attending for kindergarten,” says Holly Parker, assistant manager of Early Learning Services at the OCSB. “It really is a great opportunity to learn about early childhood development while the children play, and we encourage parents to take advantage of the expertise of the early childhood educators (ECEs) on hand,” says Parker.
EarlyON Centres are located inside the classrooms of five OCSB elementary schools across the city: Divine Infant, Prince of Peace, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Elizabeth, and St. Luke, Ottawa. “Providing exposure to a regular school routine for parents is enlightening, and for the older pre-school children, it can help with the transition to kindergarten,” says Parker. Families are able to take advantage of the school gym for play time, the outdoor play yard, and even the school learning commons (library).
Parker also says that the Family Welcome Centre for Newcomers — located at the OCSB main board office in Nepean — provides excellent services for newcomer families. “If you’ve just moved to the city, or are new to the country, the Family Welcome Centre provides a wealth of incredible resources to help families transition into their new school.”
The EarlyON preschool resource centres have been available through the OCSB for the past 10 years. The qualified professionals at each centre help provide reputable information to parents to help answer the many questions surrounding raising a child. “Everyone gets involved here to help add to a child’s chance for success,” says Parker.
There are many other childcare program options available through the OCSB that welcome children aged 18 months to four years of age, as well as numerous before and after school fee-based programs that parents can take advantage of. For more information, visit ocsb.ca/growing.