GUYSBOROUGH – Forty-three locations across the province have been selected to offer pre-primary programming to four-year-olds this fall, including new programs for the St. Mary’s and Canso areas.
“For the first time, Nova Scotia families will have access to a free pre-primary program for four-year-olds,” said Zach Churchill, minister, Education and Early Childhood Development. “This investment will support the futures of our youngest Nova Scotians and save their families thousands of dollars in child care costs.”
The first year of the program will see 50 classrooms in 43 locations across Nova Scotia. Sites were selected based on greatest need, which included if there are few to no current regulated child care options, and if space is available within schools.
The province will continue to add pre-primary classes across the province over the next four years.
The new locations in the Strait Regional School Board include Fanning Education Centre/Canso Academy and St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy. Existing programs at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy (STEP) and East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy (Early Years Centre) will transition into a Pre-Primary Program.
On Friday, The Journal interviewed Zach Churchill, minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, about the expansion. Discussing the success of pilot programs like STEP in Guysborough, Churchill said the feedback from parents and staff has been very positive.
“It’s really linked to some positive outcomes throughout their academic years,” he said, added that pre-primary programs also assist with the social transition to elementary school.
Across the province eight early-learning programs were piloted in recent years. Churchill said the expansion is a major step towards offering pre-primary to 100 per cent of Nova Scotian families.
Christine McLean, assistant professor with Child and Youth Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University said the research is clear when it comes to the benefits of play-based learning.
“Young children benefit from developmentally appropriate, play-based early learning programs, and this is especially true for the year prior to school entry,” said Ms. McLean. “Through play-based learning, facilitated by qualified early childhood educators, young children have the opportunity to develop skills in early literacy, numeracy, socialization and self-regulation, all of which will support their later academic success.”
The Pre-Primary Program will support the early learning and development of young children, preparing them for success as they start school and throughout life.
Information about eligibility, where pre-primary will be available, and how to pre-register online, visit www.ednet.ns.ca/pre-primary Parents may also pre-register their child by phone, by calling toll-free 1-833-424-2084.