Putting differences aside
“What happens on Bowen Island can serve as a provincial model!” It is wonderful to hear things like this, affirmations about the things that work, truly work, in our island community. And it’s even more gratifying to hear them from someone who is an expert, who lives elsewhere and who has the opportunity to compare our community to others.
I heard that phrase twice in my interview with Sandra-Lynn Shortall, district principal Early Learning at the West Vancouver School District 45, about the partnership between preschool teachers, BICS teachers and parents, who work together to make the transition into school easy for the kids.
And even though helping children enter the school system sounds like a no-brainer, something you would expect to find everywhere, it is not the norm (yet).
In a world where funding is often scarce, child care and educational institutions often see each other as competition. Full Day Kindergarten can be seen as depleting the number of kids in preschool.
And different preschool programs can be seen as competing for enrollment numbers. But the sense I got from talking with representatives of three preschool programs on Bowen Island is that different programs fill different needs. Different kids need different care. And a wide variety of options means a better chance of finding a place (and a program and an educator) that is just right for the individual.
It’s good to hear about the collaborative spirit among Bowen’s early childhood educators (who also acknowledge other programs like Family Place). And to learn that preschool teachers can look past differences and put competitiveness aside for the good of the kids and to, in Sandra-Lynn’s words, “better the life chances for the children.” It’s a win-win not only for the children but also for the teachers who are also do professional learning together.
It is common knowledge that Bowen Island is a fabulous place to grow up, and that’s not just because of the parks, the beaches and the trees to climb. It’s because of the people: families, neighbours, teachers and last, but not least, our caring early childhood educators.