How do pre-schoolers and their families get to know what to expect when they start school? In Creston, they just hop aboard the Magic School Bus.
The tradition began 12 years ago at a meeting with school principals and early years program facilitator Vicki Koenig,” retired principal Nancy DeVuono said last week.
“Vicki said that Kimberley had a program that took pre-schoolers to various agencies and schools,” DeVuono said. “That was our first collaboration.”
Today, DeVuono maintains her passion for early education as a board member and volunteer with Valley Community Services. Koenig still oversees a variety of early childhood programs for VCS at Family Place, in the Creston Education Centre.
“Magic School Bus is a true collaboration between early years programs and school,” DeVuono said. “It has grown to include the Community Complex, Interior Health, the Creston library, Family Place, Strong Start and, for the last three years, Yaqan Nukiy School. And this year Creston Kids Outside provided our first outdoor activities.”
Last Wednesday 112 kids—“our biggest group yet”—rode school buses to participate in a variety of activities. At Family Place, their parents got a presentation about Ages and Stages, which is designed to support their children’s development.
Ages and Stages helps identify a pre-school child’s needs, and then support and services can be accessed when issues are noted.
“People look forward to the Magic School Bus every year—we get an amazing turnout of volunteers,” DeVuono said. “For 2018 we moved the event a month ahead so that there is more time to work with families and give them the necessary support before the summer vacation begins.”
The Magic School Bus is funded by the Ministry of Education’s Ready, Set, Learn program and supported by Family Place and volunteers. And it all arose from studies that showed that Creston kids lagged behind in benchmarks for school readiness. With that knowledge in hand, Family Place and a variety of programs grew, in concert with the introduction of HomeLinks, which was designed to keep home-school students and their families connected with the public school system.
As the song says, the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round, ‘round and round…