What does Parent Participation mean?
Parent participation at the school is a requirement of enrolling at Happy Corner and it has tremendous benefits. What makes Happy Corner so special are the relationships that are built here between the children, the parents and the teachers. Being involved in a Parent Participation Preschool means that you not only have the opportunity to become part of a caring and intentional community of parents, but also to have a direct impact on your children’s learning environment. An added bonus of the the PPP model are the Parent Education opportunities that are regularly scheduled throughout the school year, where we showcase Early Childhood Educators and/or leaders in child development, all of whom offer information and a different perspective to help nurture your own growth and development as a parent.
For more information of what level of participation is expected, see our Prospective Families page.
For more information about what a Parent Participation Preschool is, see the website for the Council of Parent Participation Preschools in BC, which is our accrediting body.
Is there a gradual entry process?
Yes. Young children need to be able to anticipate routines of the school and need time to understand that separating is followed by reuniting. They need to do this few times before they feel that the school is a safe and secure place, and are comfortable saying goodbye to you. At HCP, the year begins in the following way depending on the class:
Teddy Bear Children: For the first two weeks, your child will only attend one class a week for a shortened class and will come along with a parent/primary caregiver who will also stay for the whole class.
Caterpillar Children: The entire class is divided into two small groups, and for the first class children will have the option of having a parent stay with them for the entirety of the class.
This gradual entry process gives the children a chance to adjust to the new environment with a smaller group and a chance for both children and parents to orient to the school. If your child needs your presence beyond the first two classes, we encourage parents to take a little longer time, if needed, to support children during what can be a rather intense time for some of them. Our school has an “Open Door Policy” that encourages you to stay as long as you feel necessary before you and your child are ready to take the next step. This can be discussed and planned with the Head Teacher.
Can I visit the school before I register?
Yes! We strongly encourage attending a class observation before registration. The best way to see if Happy Corner is a good fit for your child and family is to come for a class observation. Please arrange to leave your little one(s) at home so you can fully observe the class. You can take notes if you wish and follow up with our Enrollment Officer or Head Teacher, Hisae, after the class.
Observations are typically booked during the Caterpillar class, as the younger Teddy Bear’s are more easily distracted by changes in the environment. While you may not be observing at the level that you will be registering for, you are able to get a good sense of the environment, the teaching style and the daily routine.
Observations are typically booked on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays from 9:40 – 10:40 AM.
If you find it hard to arrange childcare for an observation day, you and your child can come at 11:30 AM to view the room and talk to the teachers. However, this will also require a booking through our Enrollment Officer so that all parties are clear as to date of the appointment.
Is attendance at the general meetings and Parent Education talks mandatory?
Yes. Each meeting covers business that affects your child and your family. Regular meetings are the most effective way of coordinating activities and ideas, and ensuring that all opinions are heard and considered. The business portion of the meeting also ensures that the school operates efficiently. The Parent Education program ensures that our parents are truly assistants to the teachers by keeping the parents informed of new developments in matters relating to the children and by broadening their knowledge on unfamiliar topics.
Despite these meetings being mandatory, we know that sometimes life gets hectic and situations arise and that there may be extenuating circumstances that prevent you from attending a meeting. In this case, you will work with the Vice President for your class to find another parent education experience you can complete in order to satisfy the requirements laid out by the PPP licensing body.
What is a typical time commitment of Parent Participation?
The time commitment you offer the school differs from family to family depending on circumstance and availability. However, you can expect a monthly meeting (there are 6-7 meetings in the year) on the second Tuesday of the month from 7 – 10PM.
If you decide to take on a role as a part of our parent run Board of Directors, you will also be asked to attend another monthly meeting on the first Tuesday of the month from 7-10PM. All other family jobs (not on the Board) do not require another set meetings and the time commitment depends on the nature of the job. For example: it may require weekly laundry, monthly garden care, or it may require cleaning of the space. It really depends on you & your unique abilities. We do our best to try to match families up with jobs that interest them and also match their skill set and availability.
Additionally, each family is required to have one parent/guardian help in the classroom during their duty days once every 6 weeks or so. We also have toy washes and furniture moves that happen 3 times a year, and your family will be scheduled to help at 1-2 of these events.
Overall, being part of a parent participation school definitely requires a level of commitment to the school, beyond what you may find elsewhere. It’s important to assess whether this is a good fit for your family. The benefits of joining a school with this model is that you really get to know the other families – the kids and parents, you are an active part of your child’s preschool experience and you get to learn a lot about parenting from the parent education opportunities and from being in the classroom and learning from our experienced teachers.
What is the ratio of children to adults in the class?
Where the predominant age of the children in the group is 3 years, the ratio of adults to children must not be less than 1:5. Our Teddy Bear class has a maximum of 15 children, with 3 supervising adults on duty: the Headteacher, the Assistant Teacher and one duty parent.
Where the predominant age of the children in the group is 4 years, the ratio of adults to children must not be less than 1:6. Our Caterpillar class has a maximum of 18 children, with 3 supervising adults on duty: the Headteacher, the Assistant Teacher and one duty parent.
Does my child need to be potty trained to attend Happy Corner?
We recommend that children entering Happy Corner Preschool are fully toilet trained or close to being fully toilet trained. Part of the responsibility of the duty parent is to help the children in this regard. All families have a cubby where they can keep a change of clothing at school in case of accidents.
What do children gain from engaging in a play-based preschool curriculum?
Happy Corner Preschool (HCP) is a play-based preschool. Our teachers encourage children to be creative, curious and independent through open-ended activities and a child-centered curriculum. A growing body of research on early childhood development suggests that a combination of self-directed play and guided play is the best way to support children in reaching their full potential emotionally, socially, physically and cognitively. Play provides children with spontaneous opportunities to problem solve creatively, to resolve conflict, and, in short, to get along with others – skills they will use for the rest of their lives. At Happy Corner, we believe learning can be and should be fun.
For articles and more information on the benefits of the play-based model, see the “For Parents” section of the Council of Parent Participation Preschools in BC website.
What are the program goals at Happy Corner?
There can be a misconception that play-based means that there aren’t established program goals; however, nothing could be further from the truth. Happy Corner has well established and developmentally appropriate goals set out for emotional, social, intellectual and physical development and well-being. These goals have been summarized below.
For emotional development: The program is built to encourage successful separation from parents, provide a sense of security through structure, maintain predictability and consistency in the environment, encourage children to develop meaningful relationships with others, to understand and verbalize their feelings, and promote positive self-esteem.
Goals for social development: The program encourages children to respect individual differences and rights, and helps children develop the social skills and the knowledge necessary to interact with others in harmony.
Goals for intellectual development: The program encourages children to explore their environment and to be engaged in problem solving, divergent thinking, and decision making, provides optimum opportunity for language development, and promotes concept development.
Goals for physical well being and development: The program ensures the health and safety of children is of primary concern and children’s physical needs for nutrition, exercise and rest are met. It encourages children to develop self-help skills, gross motor skills such as balance, rhythm and coordination and the development of fine motor skills such as hand-eye coordination.
How is discipline handled at Happy Corner?
At Happy Corner Preschool, our most important goal is to promote each child’s positive self-concept, therefore, positive guidance and discipline techniques that respect children as autonomous human beings are used. These include using positive reinforcement, redirection, natural consequences, and stating limits in a positive manner (e.g. “We walk inside the school.” rather than, “Don’t run.”). When dealing with difficult behaviour, all communication is focused on the behaviour rather than the child, and acknowledges and validates the child’s feelings (e.g. “(I can see that) you are really angry”).
We take a proactive approach in thoughtfully creating an environment that lessens the likelihood of challenging behaviours. For example, the space contains a variety of stimulating activities that are consciously arranged and there is a reliable and organized flow to the school day. As well, clear and consistent boundaries and expectations are communicated and regularly reinforced through caring and respectful supervision.
How can I support my child through separation anxiety?
As the Happy Corner experience may be the very first time for your child to be away from home and you, he or she may have a difficult time with you leaving. Separation anxiety occurs to some degree in most children. Some recommendations to make the separation easier are:
- Let your child know he/she can ask the teachers for help. You can role-play with your child at home.
- Before coming to the school, talk about the preschool’s daily routine – We have a photo book called “ When we come to Happy Corner”. You can read it with your child during free play.
- Although it may seem easier to slip out when your child is busy to avoid a tearful good-bye, this is counter-productive in the long run. Tell your child in a very positive manner that you are going now and you know that he/she will have a good time. If your child is having a really hard time to let you go, you may even want to say: “ I know you may feel a bit sad and cry a bit”.
- Let your child know when you will be back in reference to the daily routine, e.g. “ I will be back after the circle time”.
- Give your child a warning before it is time to leave. “In five minutes, it will be time for me to go.” You can use our timer so the five minutes does not prolong.
- Once you announce that you are going, follow through with it (unless the teacher suggests otherwise). Have a teacher to help with the transition if you see that it is not going to go smoothly, as this will assure your child that he/she will be cared for after you leave.
If separation is especially difficult for your child, you can discuss a plan with our teachers in advance to support you in this transition.
Not only did my daughter have such a wonderful experience, I too took so much from the school. Happy Corner is a parent participation preschool. They have speakers that come throughout the year to give you tips on being a better parent. I believe I am a better parent because of Happy Corner.
– Laura L.
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Banner photos and more courtesy of Amber Hughes Photography.