Mornings around here are a lot more structured than they used to be. Somewhere around 7 o’clock my little one will act as a poking, bouncing, flopping and kissing alarm clock. It looks something like this.
Then we get up, have our first of many diaper changes throughout the day, and head down stairs for breakfast. I’ll get little Z nestled into her high chair and proceed to watch while she half-eats/half-creates an artistic rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night in banana and rice cereal splatters on the floor. We’ll I’ll clean up as best I can and set the little munchkin loose.
After a few minutes of reading the familiar books and playing with familiar toys, we both seem to get a little bored. If we don’t find something to entertain the both of us, our days would get quite dull very quickly, and frustration starts to set in. So we could try one of the many fabulous ideas for entertaining young (and not-as-young) minds you’ve seen on Pinterest, or…
If you’re living in British Columbia, you could take advantage of the Strong Start BC program. We like to do things a little different here on Salt Spring, so we refer to our local branches as ELF (Early Learning for Families).
Strong Start is very much like a free preschool program for parents or other caregivers to bring (and stay with) their children ages 0-6. There are toys, water and sand tables, play-dough, art supplies and activities, songs, stories, gross motor areas and equipment, and a nutritious snack for the children to enjoy. Did I mention this is all open to you and your littles FOR FREE?
On Salt Spring Island there are three different locations to get in on the fun, each within one of the three public elementary schools – Fulford Elementary, Salt Spring Elementary (in Ganges) and Fernwood Elementary. Right now (Spring 2015), Fulford and SSE Elementaries run their ELF programs Mon-Thurs from 8:30-11:30am, and Fernwood operates Monday 8:30-11:30am and Thursday 12:30-3:30pm.
These are some of the great reasons why I like to take my little one to Strong Start (ELF):
There are always tons of things for us/her to do that don’t involve me spending oodles of time failing at fancy, ridiculously complicated Pinterest recreations, or buying new things every week. They are just there. Ready.
Besides some general tidying and wiping, I don’t have to worry about cleaning up from an hour spent splashing coloured water all over our house. The paint splatter is not marking up my walls and floor. If I leave my house clean in the morning (if you don’t, don’t worry, it’s uncommon here), it will still be in order after a good solid morning of play.
My little gets to watch and interact with children younger, older and her age, as well as other adults – a very positive way to encourage learning for everyone.
I get to chat with other adults. We can watch our kids play and talk about things that are or are not parenting related, in a normal voice. Sometimes with tea in hand.
It’s a fantastic way to meet other families with children. Having a strong community and support network of other people who share your interests is a pretty positive thing.
Circle time. I love this time as an ECE, and really enjoy sharing that with my daughter. I believe that the gathering, singing, storytelling and sharing that happens during circle is so very valuable to a wide range of skills including listening, impulse control, literacy and self-confidence. Plus, it can be a lot of fun with the right enthusiasm.
You can’t pass up a free, healthy snack for your growing humans. Especially when you don’t have to prepare it.
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I have time to think of right now.
What do YOU like about the StrongStart program? If you’re not in British Columbia, what programs does your community have to support families with young children?