Our preschool serves the families of Calgary's inner-city northwest communities and is run under the auspices of the West Hillhurst Community Association (WHCA). Our bright and inviting classroom is located on the second floor of the West Hillhurst Community Centre at 1940 6th Ave NW.
We run preschool classes for three and four year old children. All classes are taught by exceptional teachers using a play-based curriculum. Students receive weekly professional music instruction, a set of professional skating lessons and other special events throughout the year. The preschool also has access to other WHCA amenities including the ice rink, gym and soccer field.
Above all, we endeavour to make our classroom a warm and caring environment where children can learn through play while meeting the physical, social, intellectual, creative and emotional needs of each individual child. We believe that play-based learning is the best way to facilitate the development of creative thinkers, problem solvers, and independent, self-confident beings who will grow up to be caring, happy and productive adults. It is also the way children learn to make friends.
At the core of our program is free play. The children are free to choose what they will play with and with whom they will play, but the toys, centres and materials are set up by the teachers to facilitate learning. We believe that children naturally learn about themselves, others and the world around them when they are free to explore, take risks, ask questions, pursue interests and interact with other children and adults in a safe, stimulating and creative environment.
Structured or teacher-directed activities are also valued in our program. These times provide additional opportunities for appropriate social, intellectual and physical development. Story, circle and snack times along with group music and movement classes all work together to help children develop early literacy, numeracy, gross motor and music skills.
We strongly believe that social development is the greatest need of the preschooler. That entails learning to be comfortable and independent apart from parents, making friends, learning interpersonal skills and manners, and learning to speak for one self.
We value community, believing that our programs are enhanced by parent involvement in and outside the classroom.
Our preschool requires involvement in the classroom throughout the year. The volunteer commitment varies based on enrollment, but is estimated at once every two months for a 2-day/week class and once every six weeks for a 3-day/week class. Volunteers (parents, relatives, family friends, nannies) are not able to bring additional children to class and they are responsible for supplying a healthy snack for all kids. This volunteer commitment helps to keep our tuition costs down and is an excellent chance to see your child in action as the class "Special Helper".
As a parent run organization, there are also many other volunteer opportunities that help our school run smoothly and allow parents to engage with the classroom. These include roles on the Executive Committee, the Special Events teams, to making playdough. Open volunteer positions are filled annually at the Annual General Meeting of the Parent Advisory Council (PAC) held in June for the upcoming school year.
Free play is an important part of each day. The children are free to choose what and with whom they will play, but the toys, centres and materials are set up by the teachers to facilitate learning. We believe that children naturally learn about themselves, others and the world around them when they are free to explore, take risks, ask questions, pursue interests and interact with other children and adults in a safe, stimulating and creative environment.
Themes are developed to tap into children’s interests and their natural curiosity in the world around them. These themes are often teacher initiated but they take their lead from the children. Children teach each other and influence the curriculum through their passions, interests and knowledge. Examples of previous themes include: dinosaurs, the seasons, holidays around the world, insects, reptiles, bears, butterflies, authors and artists, community helpers and space.
We believe that children are artists and we value the art process more than the finished product. Learning opportunities abound for children as they express themselves through their art, work cooperatively with other, communicate freely, and develop their fine motor skills. Art materials are always available and frequently rotated. Art projects reflect class themes and personal interests.
Language & Numeracy
Our program is rich in opportunities to develop early literacy and numeracy skills. We believe that literacy within the context of preschool should emphasize speaking, create a love for books and story and introduce letters and sounds in ways that are meaningful and age-appropriate. Numeracy at this level emphasizes counting things (one-to-one correspondence), shape recognition, sorting, patterning, classifying and problem solving. Literacy and numeracy are integrated into every part of our day.
Spanish Language Programming
The Preschool's Spanish programming is a first approach to the language. Our native Spanish speaking teacher, Ms Giulliana introduces the kids to a new language through playful activities and music with passion and discipline.
Music & Movement
All classes receive weekly professional music classes where they are exposed to songs, dance, movement, rhythm & instruments. Music is also incorporated into our routines, transitions and other group times.
Gym & Playground Time
Movement education, simple games and gross motor development are part of our weekly routine. All classes have use of “Studio A” which we call our gym, and it is conveniently located next door to our classroom. In warmer weather we have use of the West Hillhurst Community Centre outdoor field when we choose to use it.
All classes receive a set of skating lessons held on-site at the West Hillhurst Community Centre Arena.
Special Events & Sessional Instruction
Periodically, special guests and instructors visit our classroom. Past guests have included parents sharing special talents, knowledge or activities, the Calgary Police Service, including Hawk the compassion dog, and Pedal Heads, to name a few. Previous sessional instruction has included: soccer, dance, martial arts, and yoga.
Sandy brings a love of literacy, learning and young children to the preschool classroom. A strong advocate of a play-based curriculum, Sandy combines her experience as a primary teacher with her knowledge of the developmental needs of preschoolers to create a program that facilitates individual social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.
As the mom of Ian, Jeff and Graeme, all now in their twenties, she remembers well the challenges of parenting preschoolers and believes she has gained some wisdom along the way that she will gladly share.
Sandy holds a B.Ed. from Queen’s University and a B.A in English from the University of Waterloo. She taught Kindergarten through Grade Three in Ontario for many years before moving to Alberta. In Calgary, Sandy taught Kindergarten and Grade One before choosing to stay home to raise her boys until the opportunity to teach preschool came along.
Nancy is an energetic, positive and nurturing teacher who delights in the loving and creative nature of preschool children. She believes strongly that an innovative play based program with
solid routines not only allows children to safely test boundaries in their quest for independence, but creates boundless opportunities to learn and practice problem solving techniques.
Diversity abounds in Nancy’s life. With two very different grown children, Libby (a photographer) and Ian (a tax lawyer), a mischievous cat, an energetic Border collie and Martin her engineering (and very Peter-Pan-like) husband, she is no stranger to nurturing unique talents
and learning styles.
While her first love – rocks! – resulted in a B.Sc. in Geology from Queen’s, her children’s learning struggles prompted a return to school for a B.Ed. in Early childhood studies from the University of Calgary. Nancy has taught Grade One, Kindergarten and Preschool – but loves
Preschool the best!
Giulliana’s smile, laugh and warmth are infectious. Giulliana is a positive, energetic teacher who has a passion for teaching young children and a passion for teaching Spanish. As an educator, Giulliana accomodates different learning styles, abilities and interests. She values free play and creatively combines music, movement, and visual aids to engage children as they learn a second language.
Originally from Peru, Giulliana completed a B.A. in physical education before becoming a teacher. She has many years of experience teaching both elementary and preschool children, first in Peru, then in Canada. She also teaches Spanish classes to children and adults outside of our community.
Lisa has a passion for early learning, especially enriching young minds through play and mindful experiences. She always wanted to be a teacher! At the age of three she told her Mum and Dad “I’m going to be a teacher” and never changed her mind! She loves outdoor learning and the opportunities and experiences this gives to the children.
Having recently moved to Calgary from England, Lisa lives in the local community, enjoying all it has to offer with her daughter Niamh and husband Paul. You will often see her on the park, ice skating or in the pool! Lisa studied at Manchester University and qualified with a BA Hons in Primary Education. She spent the first 8 years of her career, teaching Kindergarten to Grade 6 in Liverpool and before her move to Canada she was a Vice Principle and Kindergarten teacher. She has enjoyed spending the last 18 months, settling into Canadian life and being a Kindergarten Mom and is excited to get back to teaching!
Full bio coming!
Ms. Grisela assists in our MWF afternoon Spanish bilingual class.
Ms. Anthea was born in Durban, South Africa, and moved to Calgary in 1993. She has completed a Child Care Staff Qualification Certificate, and a degree in Fine Art from Alberta College of Art and Design. She has worked as a Teacher Assistant at the Winter Club Preschool. She has three children who all attended West Hillhurst Preschool. Ms. Anthea believes children develop their creativity and learn best through open ended play.