Long before Ms. Kay opened her Little Learners Preschool in the southeast Calgary community of Douglasdale 16 years ago, she was quietly developing her own philosophy on shaping young minds.
“I love to see children succeed,” she said.
“We’re here to give them the opportunity to learn through play.”
Originally from Vancouver, Ms. Kay began her career in early childhood education with a humble, licensed dayhome where she could also care for her own small children.
Later, her husband was transferred to Calgary for work and they settled in Douglasdale. Her children were then in Grades 1 and 3, so Ms. Kay went back to school at Mount Royal University and secured her Early Childhood Education diploma.
“It was the perfect time for me to go back to school and get the credentials behind what I had been doing for years previous,” said Ms. Kay.
Immediately employed after graduation, Ms. Kay continued working with children, fine tuning her desire to help children feel good about education.
“We want their first school experience to be a positive one!”
“We want them to think, ‘I can do this.’ If they feel they can’t, we want them to ask for help, so they can learn how to overcome these obstacles.”
After her mom’s passing, she was encouraged by her dad to use an inheritance to chase the dream of creating her own program. From scratch, Ms. Kay built Little Learners Preschool, where every experience is designed to foster success – academically, socially and in play.
Even the bathrooms are built with success in mind.
“Whether it’s spelling their name, cutting a circle with scissors or building with blocks, our whole classroom has opportunities for children to succeed,” she said.
Little Learners provides tiered programs starting with children as young as 2.5 years where they will acquire the basic skills and practice in a play environment. Those skills are nurtured through their program and developed making sure the child is well prepared for entering Kindergarten.
Little Learners is partnered with I’m for Kids, a government-funded agency where pre-screening is done early to identify any learning challenges and provide in-class support to once again create opportunities for the children’s success.
Class ratios are kept low, with one teacher and one teacher’s aide per class to create more hands-on attention for the children. Ms. Kay also considers the parents part of the team in the approach to learning and play and encourages ongoing and open communication.
Ms. Kay wants Little Learners’ children to learn through their own creativity and exploration.
“Let’s combine their love of learning and natural curiosity into something that will serve as the building blocks for social and academic success. The earlier the children start, the more opportunity they have to develop these skills,” she said.
It’s a philosophy developed with a love of seeing children learn – and succeed.
“I don’t even call it a job because I love it so much,” said Ms. Kay.
“It’s my happy place to be here.”
Find out more about the Little Learners program by visiting www.littlelearners.ca
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