Program starts learning early

Up to 20 local young learners could be a part of unique education experience, getting them ready for Grade 1.

Up to 20 local young learners could be a part of unique education experience, getting them ready for Grade 1.

With parents starting to register their young ones, Lynne Harris, owner of First Steps and Beyond Inc., said now was a great time to announce the start of their program. Scheduled to begin in September of this year, her business will offer an enhanced kindergarten program.

Harris has been running a pre-school program for four years and has learned a lot from the parents of her young learners.

“We’re finding that kindergarten programs aren’t offering enough of a challenge for five-year-olds,” said Harris. “We think they’re capable of learning more than what they are and so we developed the enhanced kindergarten to develop that curiosity of learning.”

The program will offer math, language arts, reading, science, social studies, health, printing and arts — including music, creative movement, drama, sculpture and painting.

First Steps and Beyond Inc. moved into a new location, at the bottom of Red Deer north hill at 4910 59th St., during the holidays.

Harris said the goal is to have the students reading by the time they start Grade 1.

“The optimum learning age for children is between the ages of two and five,” said Harris. “That’s when your child learns a lot of what they are going to learn and we want our kindergarten program to meet that yearning and curiosity kids have to learn.”

With requests from parents, and personal observations, Harris thought developing the program would offer some students a leg up.

Two classes will be in place the first year with up to 10 students per class. The current schedule has one class on Mondays and Wednesday and the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Both classes will have alternating Friday sessions.

On the alternate Fridays, an instructor will teach other skills such as dance, yoga, music and taekwondo.

Harris’s present licence, obtained through the Alberta Child Care Licensing Act, allows her to teach up to kindergarten.

“Underneath them I can offer a program from five-year-olds,” she said.

“We’re teaching our pre-K kids how to read and they are getting it, so there is no way a four- and a five-year-old cannot learn how to read.”

Harris said the program will likely cost less than $500 and because of her licence, parents can apply for the stay-at-home subsidy, if they are a stay-at-home parent. She also said the cost may vary depending on how many days a child attends the kindergarten.

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