Why should I choose a parent participation preschool? Co-operative preschool is an opportunity for parents to participate in the early years of their child’s education.  At times, parents will work alongside the teacher to support children’s learning.  Parents will be able to learn first-hand strategies for working with young children which will benefit their parenting skills.  Parents also attend monthly parent education sessions.  Many life-long friendships have begun at the school. The first years “last forever” and you reap many rewards from your involvement. It’s also a gentle transition for your child from the home to school.

What is a cooperative preschool?
A cooperative preschool is a non-profit school “owned” by the parents. Preschools benefit from the skills families bring to the co-op as they are the ones to run the business. Families are asked to do jobs that they have the skills to perform.

How much time will I need to devote to the school? Duty/helper parents are required to help in the classroom (only a few non-duty parent placements are available at the school) and should expect (based on full enrollment levels) to volunteer once every two months.  However, all shifts must be filled or the preschool cannot run. All parents must also attend monthly meetings. The first portion of the meetings are devoted to parent education, which is required by licensing.  All duty parents must attend this portion of the meeting. The second half covers preschool business. Either parent can attend the business portion of the meeting. Meetings are about two hours long, on the first Wednesday of the month.  Parents also take a job in the school such as managing the library, maintaining equipment, gardening. Often individual families share the jobs, for example one parent does the duty days, and the other parent takes a job at the preschool.  Depending on the job, this can take between one to three hours a month.

What role will I have as a parent helper? Parents assist the teacher in preparing the classroom, helping children with activities, supervising, and clean up at the end of the day. Parents are there for all the children, although on your parent helper day, you’ll be able to observe your child at play with others and enjoy the school day with them.

At what age can my child start preschool? In order to start in September, your child must turn three before December 31st of that year.  In order to start in January, your child must turn three by June 30th of that year.  In some cases, the ECE can file for a temporary placement in September if your child is 30 months old.  This depends on the ages of the children enrolled in the class, how many are toilet trained, and your child’s level of independence.

Can younger siblings attend during my parent helper day? Please discuss this with the ECE as it is dependent on the age of the child and their needs.  Parents have also arranged to trade childcare on their duty days with each other.

What time of year is registration at Countryside? Enrollment and registration occur throughout the school year.

What are preschool hours and days, and what is the school year? Preschool classes are in session Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 to 12:55.  We follow the same calendar as the Saanich school district (September till June) with the exception of only one week closure over Spring Break.  Our first and last weeks of school are also for school cleaning and maintenance, and we run as normal on professional development days.

On Monday, the preschool also offers a free Stay N Play for children three and under and their caretakers (link to page with details). The preschool is closed on Fridays.

What are enrollment options? Children can attend for either two-days or three-days a week.

How are children transitioned into preschool? Parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their children’s transition for as long as they feel comfortable. After completing an observation day (or more!) and registering, a parent may decide to stay involved in decreasing amounts over a number of days or weeks. The ECE will work with the parent to ensure that both the child and parent are comfortable with the pace of the transition. Children will decide to engage at their own pace; some will observe for longer and others will jump in and participate.

Do you accept children who aren’t yet toilet trained? We do expect that children are potty trained; however, we understand that this is a process that is more difficult for some children than others.  The ECE is there to support children during this stage of development.

What support is available for children when they need to use the washroom? Only ECE’s and Supported Childcare Assistants help children in the washrooms as they are the ones most familiar with what stage your child is at in their self-care, and how to further support their independence.  Duty parents do not help in the washrooms.

I know kids get sick a lot, but what is your sick policy, and are efforts made to reduce spreading germs? Our sick policy is if children are comfortable, have energy, and do not have vomiting or diarrhea, they are able to attend the program. Our facility adheres to licensing standards to stop the spread of germs.  This involves thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting areas where there will be food, and routinely washing and disinfecting toys.  We also ensure children wash their hands with soap after the bathroom and before they eat, and we educate them on why this is important.

Can parents stay or check-in on days they think their kids need it? Absolutely. We encourage this.

What are your fees? Please visit our fees page.

What educational philosophies or theories guide decisions in the classroom? The Reggio Emilia philosophy guides the ECEs implementation of the program. This philosophy focuses primarily on the community context of the child, and what values are important to the families.  It also focuses on using multiple mediums to support children’s developing communication skills.  The ECE also follows the British Columbia Early Learning Framework which recognizes children are active participants in their learning, children’s experiences within their family and culture are central to their interests and learning, and learning occurs within supportive and safe environments. When supporting children’s communication and problem solving skills, the ECE follows Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication strategies.

I know music is a part of Countryside; but how often and in what ways are children
exposed to it? Throughout the week, we use the various instruments in our classroom to make music together. We sing songs throughout the day as the children play, and during circle time the ECE will play the guitar as the children sing. We listen to classical music while we eat and in the morning as the children are coming into the centre. The ECE also uses the most optimal time during the day to do some music and movement with the children. Sometimes the children are ready to do this first thing in the morning, and sometimes this occurs at the end of the day. The ECE will also use a variety of tools, such as the parachute, rhythm sticks, or drums, to support the child to further have fun and explore music. We also have a music corner where the children are free to explore a variety of sounds with the instruments that are always available, such as bells, drums, maracas and the xylophone.

Does the curriculum reflect seasons, holidays, special events and swap items out from time to time? We do have some regular themes focused on the change in seasons, such as visiting Goldstream Park in the fall to see the salmon run. At the end of the month, we always have celebrations focused on the season and on this day we will bake. For example, in the fall we will bake pumpkin muffins, and if we have visited the pumpkin patch we will use some of the pumpkins we brought back. For field trips, we also focus on connecting the child to their community and nature, such as a visit to the local fire hall or a local farm. Our themes will also reflect the children and families’ interests. The ECE welcomes ideas from families if there is something they value in their family, such as special holiday traditions not often observed in Canada. Overall, the ECE mostly watches what the children are interested in during their play explorations and materials are rotated to build onto the child’s learning and interests. For example, if children are very focused on water play, the ECE will rotate the materials in the water play to expand these explorations.

Are artwork, dramatic play and creativity encouraged? Definitely! The ECE recognizes that children are naturally creative in how they approach the world and their learning. We create many opportunities to build onto the child’s natural strengths and support their capacity for creative play. The ECE will focus on the child’s interests and integrate this into a variety of learning centres which the child is free to explore. Children are free to use materials from one area in the classroom within another area as long as it does not harm the materials in any way. For example, children often love to use the play doh in the kitchen as they pretend to bake.

Is there a garden and outdoor space available and utilized? We spend a lot of time outside as connecting children to nature is a large part of our program. As long as the children are comfortable and appropriately dressed, we will spend half of our program outside.

How much of the day is structured versus free play/learning through play? The classroom structure is focused on the children’s needs and what schedule works for the
group as a whole. Except for snack time and lunch time, the ECE will observe the natural
rhythms of the children and focus activities around this. Free play consists of choosing from a
variety of activities, such as sensory play, dramatic play, art explorations and music explorations. More focused time involves circle time where the children can chose between doing puzzles, or joining the group for songs and stories. How much time is spent doing these varies.

Are the children encouraged to try new toys or stations if they always do the same thing day after day? The ECE is always observing to see how to expand onto the children’s play and learning. If children tend to use the same materials, the ECE will explore with the child to see what it is they are drawn to about the play and add materials to further focus the child.

How does the school handle conflict/aggression between children? The ECE will immediately step in if aggression occurs and support the children to work through their problem. This involves, acknowledging both children’s perspectives and feelings and then problem solving together how to work together safely and respectful of one another. If children do have a disagreement, and no one’s sense of safety is affected, the ECE often will observe to see how the children resolve the issue. Part of our program also involves using fun activities to learn together how to resolve conflict and promote co-operation, such as through stories and music.

How do I learn more? E-mail our enrollment coordinator at info@countrysidepreschool.org and schedule an observation day.

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