The Junior Kindergarten program at Beaverlodge Elementary School is growing. Currently, the school has a program for three-year-olds that need extra supports in school and a two day a week program for four-year-old children.

“Our program focuses on play-based learning for kids,” explains principal Paul Cincurak, “so that they can develop fine motor skills and introduce them to the alphabet and numbers. It might be a little more detailed than just a regular pre-school.”

The three-year-old program will be expanded to include children of all levels of need, and the four-year-old program will move to three days a week. To qualify, children must be potty-trained and be turning three by the end of 2018.

The school will be holding a drop-in event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on February 23rd for families to meet the instructors and get a tour. Cincurak says it’s an opportunity for them to learn more about the benefits of sending their children to school younger.

“I think familiarity with the school and reduction in anxiety, not only for kids but also for parents, is really important here. If those kids can come into the school and spend a year or two with us before they actually hit kindergarten, we’ve noticed a big difference.”

Since Junior Kindergarten was brought in three years ago at the request of the Beaverlodge Playschool Society, enrolment has averaged around 30 students. However, Cincurak says the four-year-old program last year had 62 children, and they’re seeing more demand from the community.

If parents don’t make it to the opening of registration on February 23, they can do so during regular school hours.