When the new school years starts in September 2019, the Ashcroft Early Learning Program will be entering its 15th year of providing a happy, educational, nurturing, and safe environment for area children.
The fully-licensed Early Childhood Education program — now run by Shauna Laskey and Tanya Sabyan — was established by Sabyan and Caroline Paulos in 2005, and was originally located in the basement of the Lady Minto building in Ashcroft. Sabyan says that the program started when parents began asking for a preschool program in Ashcroft.
“We were employed at the Cache Creek preschool and our contracts were expiring, and we were not returning for the new school year. The request and encouragement to start a program in Ashcroft was overwhelming.
“At the time the only Early Learning Program existing in Ashcroft was Healthy Beginnings, which is a parent-child led program. The need for another Early Learning Program in the community, and the support from families and community members, was apparent, and the Village was happy to grant our request and give us the space.”
The program eventually moved to the former Ashcroft Elementary School site. In 2014 it was invited to be part of the amalgamation of the two Ashcroft schools, and since 2015 has been located at Desert Sands Community School.
Laskey says that the current site is self-contained, with its own bathroom, change room, kitchen facility, and outdoor courtyard with playground. However, she adds that the location gives many opportunities for partnership with the larger school community, and that older students are able to come in and interact with the younger children, partnering on a variety of projects.
The program follows the school year, so is closed during Christmas and Spring breaks, as well as on non-instructional days. Three services are offered: a toddler program for those aged 18 to 36 months (12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday); a preschool program for those aged three to five years (9 to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday); and before and after school care for those aged five to 12 (Monday through Friday, 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.).
Sabyan notes that the program not only provides a safe environment for children to play and learn, but also provides many resources for families that have concerns regarding their children’s growth and development. Daily activities include arts and crafts; active play; literacy experiences, such as a home library program; field trips; and cooking. Social interactions help children build relationships amongst their peers and with teachers, and prepare them for Kindergarten.
Sabyan and Laskey between them have many years of experience with childcare, daycare, and child-based activities. They also have a variety of certifications, including Child Mother Goose, Kids Have Stress Too, Sexual Abuse Prevention and Awareness, Family Literacy, Appetite to Play, Foodsafe, and First Aid.
Sabyan says that she chose a career in child-minding because she loves children, and that working with them to help them learn and grow is extremely rewarding and gratifying. “I’m honoured that parents and families allow me to be part of some of the most important and vital years of their lives.”
Laskey — who has been part of the Ashcroft Early Learning Program for eight years, and who in 2017 successfully completed a year-long Early Childhood Education course offered at Cache Creek Elementary School as a partnership between School District No. 74, Make Children First, and Vancouver Community College — says “Kids are my passion. I can’t see myself doing anything else. There’s not a day where I’m not excited to go to work. I love watching the children grow, and love teaching them.”
For more information about the Ashcroft Early Learning Program, contact Shauna Laskey at (250) 457-3813, or Tanya Sabyan at (250) 457-7408.