The success of Little Moccasins Learning Centre has resulted in an exciting new project that increases the positive impact of parents on Kindergarten classrooms in a growing number of schools.
A partnership between Little Moccasins and Communities That Care has resulted in the launch of Parents as Learning Leaders, a new program that delights teachers and parents alike and has everybody excited for school to start.
Having parents and elders involved with the children’s schooling is an important part of Little Moccasins, director Sheena Rogers said.
“All of our parents are on our parent advisory committee, and every month our board of directors asks them for suggestions — they have a lot of say,” she explained.
The goal of the new program is to carry positive, strong parental involvement over from Little Moccasins to Marie Sharpe and Nesika elementary schools, where most of Little Moccasins kids attend Kindergarten.
“We have created a focus group where parents voice what they see as important at Little Moccasins: why they feel so connected and involved, and they share with the teachers what is needed to carry that on at these other schools,” she said.
“It’s so exciting to see the parents have such a voice. It’s amazing.”
Little Moccasins will provide parent volunteers at the outdoor Kindergarten at Scout Island, Marie Sharpe and Nesika.
“They will connect with every parent of a Kindergarten student, staying in touch with the parents on whatever kind of communication they respond to best.”
Rogers added that there are lots of great ideas on the table and excellent feedback from the teachers and the parents, all of whom are excited about the project.
Little Moccasins Learning Centre, an Aboriginal Headstart, program, has been open for 13 years; the very first Little Moccasin class will graduate high school next year.
They welcome children from bands in the Chilcotin, Shuswap and Carrier Nations, as well as other Nations and ensure that the cultures of all families are represented.
They offer two classes a day for kids three to five years old, who are of Aboriginal ancestry.
“We have 40 kids all the time with 65 more on a waiting list. People call almost every day to add their kids to that list,” Rogers said.
She added that the program is funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada, and is free for families, and operates full time with transportation and meals provided.
“We’re open for two weeks in both July and August with cultural field trips every day, like berry and sage picking and fish camp visits,” she continued.
“The kids absolutely love it: they’re intrigued and focused and love to participate.”
Rogers has worked with the Cariboo Friendship Centre for 23 years.
Her work has included running a Children Who Witness Abuse program, working in an emergency shelter, running a youth program and working as a social program supervisor.
“When it comes to the success of Little Moccasins, the bottom line is a strong focus on six areas: culture and language, education and school readiness, health promotion, nutrition, parent and family involvement and social support,” she said.
“We base everything we do on this and I think that’s why this works and why parents are so glad to have their kids here.”