Ten N.S. pre-primary sites to offer before- and after-school programs

The new program is meant to address one of the biggest criticisms of pre-primary — that it only operates during school hours and many parents must find child care before or after school.

New program means working parents won't have to find child care before or after school

These two pre-primary students at William King Elementary School will be eligible to participant in a new before and after school program focused on physical activity and outdoor play. (Robert Short/CBC)

The Nova Scotia government is launching a new pilot program designed to address one of the biggest criticisms of its pre-primary program — that working parents find it hard because it only operates during school hours.

Pre-primary is a free program for four-year-olds intended to help prepare them for the school system. But the hours it runs has meant that in many cases parents are left to find child care before or after school.

Education Minister Zach Churchill and Early Childhood Development Minister Zach Churchill announced a new before and after school pilot program focused on physical activity and play for pre-primary students on Thursday in Halifax (Robert Short/CBC)

"We want to make sure that we are tackling all the barriers to accessing this program," Education Minister Zach Churchill told reporters Thursday.

There are over 3,000 children enrolled in pre-primary programs across the province. Churchill said he expects about 230 will participate in the after-school pilot program. It will be focused on physical activity and outdoor play for children, the province said.

Two pre-primary students at William King Elementary School in Herring Cove (Robert Short/CBC)

Families will be required to pay about $15 a day for the recreation program, which is separate from the free provincial pre-primary program. But a family with a combined income of under $70,000 can have up to 100 per cent of the costs subsidized by the province.

Genevieve Hart is the lead pre-primary teacher at William King Elementary School in Herring Cove.  That school is one of the 10 chosen sites for the pilot.

"I think it's excellent, our children love to run around and love to show their energy and it's not always possible within a classroom so we are always outside when possible or in the gymnasium," Hart said.

Hart's 13 students spend more than one hour a day outside for play.

Genevieve Hart is a pre-primary teacher at William King Elementary School in Herring Cove, N.S. (Robert Short/CBC)

The province will work with other established child care or municipal and non-profit recreation providers to deliver the pilot program.

"I think it's going to be a wonderful addition to daily activity for our four-year-olds and maybe that's where parents will become very involved with more activity with their children," said Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine.

The 10 pilot locations are:

  • Coldbrook and District School, Coldbrook​
  • Harbourside Elementary School, Sydney
  • Oxford Regional Education Centre, Oxford​
  • Conseil scolaire acadien provincial Bedford Highway pre-primary site, Bedford
  • William King Elementary School, Herring Cove​
  • Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, Guysborough
  • East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy, Monastery
  • West Northfield Elementary School, West Northfield
  • Yarmouth Central School, Yarmouth​
  • Weymouth Consolidated School, Weymouth

"The criteria we used to select the sites for the pilot was based on regional representation, we wanted to have this pilot available across the province in each of our school regions," Churchill said.

"We also needed to ensure there was community capacity, so enough providers with staff to provide these program onsite."

One of 13 pre-primary students at William King Elementary School in Herring Cove (Robert Short/CBC)

Three of the pilot sites will be at pre-primary locations where before- and after-school program already exist for pre-primary children.

The pilot will run from January until June.

About the Author

Sherri Borden Colley

Reporter

Sherri Borden Colley has been a reporter for more than 20 years. Many of the stories she writes are about social justice, race and culture, human rights and the courts. To get in touch with Sherri email sherri.borden.colley@cbc.ca