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 3-5 year old children. All classes are taught by exceptional teachers using a play-based curriculum. The preschool also has access to other WHCA amenities including the ice rink, outdoor space and baseball/soccer fields. We have:
- small class sizes (1:9 maximum)
- a play-based curriculum
- outdoor time
- individual school supplies
- sessional programming like skating and soccer
- a community focus: many families live in the neighbourhood
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.
COVID-19 UPDATE: We have been advised by AHS to no longer use Parent Volunteers in our classroom for the time being. While we are sad to lose this special component to our program, the health and safety of the children and staff are our priority. We look forward to returning to having volunteers as soon as we are able.
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 - ON HOLD DUE TO COVID-19
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.
Movement education & outdoor time
Movement education, simple games and gross motor development are part of our weekly routine. In warmer weather we have use of the West Hillhurst Community Centre outdoor field.
All classes receive a set of skating lessons held on-site at the West Hillhurst Community Centre Arena.
Special Events & Sessional Instruction - Some elements ON HOLD DUE TO COVID-19
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.
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!
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 accommodates 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.
Cicely is not a stranger to the West Hillhurst Preschool as both of her girls graduated from here. She is very excited about being back in the classroom as a teacher instead of a parent volunteer.
Cicely has been working with children since her days as a day camp counsellor in high school. She then went on to get a degree in Physical Education and then Education and became a junior high teacher for a few years. She then moved to Chile, South America for seven years where both her girls were born. After her children were grown she went right back into working with children as it was her passion that she missed. In the past few years she has been working with elementary school and preschool children and has found that this age is her favourite.
She is a very active person who enjoys many sports and the outdoors especially if they include her dog Lily. Having fun and being active is very important to her and she incorporates this into her type of teaching. She believes that making the classroom a place where learning is fun can resonate with children for the rest of their lives.
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!
Payton has dreamed of being a teacher since she was in junior high. As she tutored her friends, she found a passion for education and problem solving. She has worked with children since she was eight and continues to be passionate about seeing children grow, develop and learn new skills. Although Payton has taken time to figure out what is her perfect age range to teach, she has settled into preschool like it is her second home.
As a graduate of the University of Calgary with a concurrent degree in Sociology and Early Childhood Education, she uses her degrees to implement new teaching strategies in the classroom. Throughout her teaching career she has shown a great interest in the development of gross and fine motor skills in young children with putting importance on free play, creativity and exploration in learning. Payton is looking forward to this coming year and the new growth and experiences that come with being a new teacher at the West Hillhurst Community Preschool.