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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Buckets Full of Fun! ~ Photo Blog

Earlier this year, we were very honoured to be the recipient of the Brooks & District Chamber of Commerce - Community Spirit Award! This award recognizes businesses that have a high degree of community involvement, show support for seniors, youth and culture and act as community leaders by building on strengths within Brooks & area.

At BELA, we strive to give our students real world experiences that build on our Bucket Filling Philosophy!  Character Development is a building block of our program and we are always happy to make new friends, help other organizations and find fun ways for our students to bring smiles and happiness to others in our community.

We wanted to take the opportunity to share a post hi-lighting some of the community work we do with our students, that led to us being recognized as a leader in the area of Community Spirit!

Christmas ornaments & new books for our Kindergarten friends in Fort McMurray, the BELA Run for Reading,  food drives for the Brooks  Food Bank Foundation, helping plant flowers at our home in South Shore Centre, delivering cookies, flowers and notes for  RAK Day (Random Acts of Kindness), visits to Newbrook Lodge,  & spending time with our new friends from Eastbrook Elementary ; its all here in this photo blog of community minded projects past & present!

Thank you to Scotiabank & the Chamber of Commerce for this wonderful award! We were truly honoured to win in this category because character development is such a big part of our program. Thank you to our teaching staff for taking the 'bucket filler' philosophy and integrating it into our program every single day; for taking ideas and translating them into real world learning experiences for our students.  Thank you to our parents for helping with all these activities and for allowing us to share your children with our community.  And most importantly, thank you to our students for the opportunity to teach the value of community and for reminding us everyday to find the joy in the little things, help others , share and be kind!!


Friday, April 14, 2017

Stay To Play ~ A pilot Project

After 4 years of spreading the word about the importance of the early years and  implementing the only preschool program of it’s kind in the community for 3 & 4 year olds, the BELA team decided we needed to start even earlier! Why? Because “new research is shedding scientific light on what most of us always suspected from the start: playing with young kids isn’t just a fun way to pass the time. It actually changes their brains in ways that affect their health for a lifetime. And that has consequences for our families, our communities, and future generations. Positive interactions repeated through a young child’s life are the bricks that build a foundation for all future development. That means it’s important to get the early years right, because even as adults, our well-being has a lot to do with the way our brain architecture was shaped early in life!” ( 2017)  For many years, Jody our Director of Education has stressed the importance of the early years, especially ages 0-8 to staff,  parents, grandparents and pretty much anyone who will listen! We decided it was important to step into a role where we can teach,  model and help parents implement strategies with their children even before they are of preschool age, optimizing those early years even more.

Parents are a child’s earliest and most influential teacher, so we thought, why not start there? It was simple:  invite parents to bring their little ones and play! And they did!

We asked parents what they wanted to get out of these sessions and we heard a resounding...."Let’s get them ready for preschool; teach them to share, take turns and follow directions and a daily routine!" " And how about some colors, and numbers and shapes! Oh and don’t forget about fine motor skills and self-regulation!”

So, with the combination of a strong research based background and the valuable input from our parents, BELA staff designed the sessions to combine learning opportunities and playtime for parents with their child; while BELA staff model developmentally appropriate activities for parents, giving them the opportunity to participate, observe and engage in learning opportunities designed just for them.


This little afternoon pilot project has blossomed into a vibrant, fun, interactive program, rich in learning opportunities for the children, as well as their parents! With the unique opportunity of having the added comfort of their parent close by, these BELA littles had the opportunity to slowly dip their toes into pre-school life. As the weeks went by the staff noticed that the children's’ confidence grew and each and every child in their own way, adjusted to the daily routines, and began to adapt to the classroom environment and the expectations of their teachers. Our parents feel that they have increased their own learning regarding early childhood development; and feedback across the board indicates that the children's early learning skills have improved and that there has been significant progress in preschool preparedness. After observing the growth of these little people over the past few months, there’s no doubt in my mind that these future students will come back in September eager to listen and learn, and ready to fill buckets!

~Ashley Williams

** Catch one last session of Stay To Play before the school year is over! Details & Registration here: Stay To Play at BELA