Pre-primary coming to more local schools

Community Online First

NOEL: Hundreds of additional families across the province will have access to pre-primary when the program expands to 56 new schools this September.

Pre-primary will begin this fall at Cobequid Elementary School in Noel, Uniacke District School, and Oldfield Consolidated Elementary.

This will mark year three, of a four-year rollout, that will bring the total number of schools in Nova Scotia delivering the program to 201. The expansion will see 84 new classrooms and based on Grade Primary enrolment data, it is anticipated about 1,400 four-year-olds could access the program.

“Access to early learning opportunities the year before a child starts school supports lifelong success,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “This is a program that families want in their communities and we are one year away from being able to give every four-year-old in the province the opportunity to participate.”

Government will invest about $10.2 million this year to expand the program, bringing the total annual investment to $34.2 million.

This year, more than 3,000 children enrolled in the pre-primary program. Pre-primary implementation in the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial and Strait Regional Centre for Education has already been completed. The Tri-County and South Shore Regional Centres for Education will have fully implemented the program this fall.

Lisa Conway’s son, Hunter, was one of the first children to attend pre-primary when it was launched at Rockingstone Heights Elementary in Spryfield in 2017. Lisa said the program supported her child to enter school by helping him learn to socialize with other children his age.

“Since he completed pre-primary, what I’ve noticed is that his vocabulary has improved greatly,” said Ms. Conway. “I would recommend the program to other families because it helps children become more social and they learn to co-operate with each other at a younger age.”

The expansion of pre-primary will save families thousands of dollars in child care costs and create more opportunities for early childhood educators in Nova Scotia. About 224 more early childhood educators will be needed to support the new classrooms. More than 400 early childhood educators will be employed by the program next year.

Families who live near a school community that is offering pre-primary and wish to register their child, can contact the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial or their Regional Centre for Education.