Community

Preschool tour will highlight diversity of Vashon’s many programs

Vashon families will have a chance to learn about the many schools and programs that cater to the youngest Islanders when members of the Vashon Early Learning Coalition host a collective open house and tour Saturday, April 2.

The tour will feature most of Island’s preschools, a nursery school, daycares and other programs that serve kids between ages 2 and 10.

In all, 15 groups and schools are participating, according to Lori Means, the director of Family Education and Support Services at Vashon Youth & Family Services and a member of the Early Learning Coalition.

The offerings on the day of the tour will reflect the diversity of the programs on Vashon, Means noted. That diversity did not happen by accident, she said, but through the intentions and work of the members of the coalition who strive to create programs that fill a variety of niches. If one program does not seem a good fit, she noted, the teacher will often recommend other schools that might.

“There is a place for every child,” she said.

Several of the programs have held individual open houses in the past, but this year the members of the coalition decided to combine forces and create a fun day of play.

Each stop will offer a variety of activities geared for the preschool set, and families are welcome to attend as many as they wish. Kids, for instance, will get a chance to milk a goat or hold a rooster at Homestead Farm & Wilderness Learning Center, sing along with Nancy Stewart in “Read and Sing a Story Song” at the Vashon Library, enjoy crepes at La Petite Etoile and climb a tree and nibble in the garden at Starbreak Preschool. Parents are also welcome to attend the tour without their children.

For parents concerned about the cost of preschool, especially during these economically challenging times, Means noted that Island preschools are working to make their programs affordable to everybody, and if families have financial concerns, they should speak with the teachers directly.

Two other programs, while not on the tour, are also important for parents of preschoolers to know about, Means noted. One is the preschool at Chautauqua, which serves children with development delays along with their typically developing peers. The other is ChildFind, a program that assesses childrem in several areas of development; if a child is determined to have special learning needs, he or she may be able attend the Chautauqua Preschool program free of charge.

As for the tour day, Means is looking forward to it and hopes several families will attend. “The day will let families see how easily accessible these programs are,” she said.

Schools on the tour will be La Petite Etoile French School, Vashon-Maury Cooperative Preschool, A Child’s Garden Montessori, Homestead Farm & Learning Community, Love and Laughter Preschool, Creative Preschool, Starbreak Preschool and Summer Camp, Klahanie Nursery School, Kids Are People Too and Huckleberry Kids.

The Vashon Library will be open for a special program at 11 a.m., and the Vashon PlaySpace, which offers programs for kids and their parents, will also be open and will house information about three other programs: Swing Set Movement and Music Program, Vashon Wilderness Program and Core Parenting. The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2,  but some schools will have their own hours within that time frame.

Maps and the day’s schedule are online at www.VYFS.org and at Minglement, The PlaySpace, Café Luna, Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union, Books by the Way, Vashon Bookshop and the Vashon Library.

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