Ready Set Learn Fails to Deliver

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the write mama, vancouver mom bloggerThis spring, I attended the Ready Set Learn program at our catchment school in SD43. I didn’t really know what the program was for except that it was supposed to be a program for parents with 3 and 4-year-olds. When I arrived, I walked into an almost empty gym ; the only people there were principals and a few school age kids who seemed to be there with games for preschool age kids. Unfortunately there were few children or parents to be found.

I learned that Ready Set Learn seems to be aimed at promoting the Strong Start program for the 3 year old crowd. I went to Strong Start with my son when he was younger and I am not saying this would happen with every child, but my son seemed to outgrow it along the way… Most of the other moms I know already know about Strong Start which I do think is a great program.

The main benefit of attending the Ready Set Learn program for me was the chance to meet the principals at the local schools, most of whom were in attendance. I was disappointed that the local kindergarten teachers weren’t there and that there was no introduction to kindergarten material.

As a parent with a child starting kindergarten this September, I have had a hard time finding information about the schools in our neighbourhood and I was hoping this would help. People have told me that the school district doesn’t want you to shop around for schools. They don’t want you relying on the Fraser Institute rankings for elementary schools. Parents are expected to sign up for their catchment school and to be happy about it. But here’s the thing. I wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on, so why on earth would I sign my child up for school at a place I know nothing about?

In our neighbourhood, we have two catchment schools – one for French Immersion and one for English. There are also information sessions for kindergarten registration in the district for French Immersion and for other programs like Montessori – these take place in January – but nothing about the regular kindergarten program. All the choices are great but also overwhelming. Parents need more information.

I feel Ready Set Learn should be retooled for the parents of 3 and 4 year olds  with the following changes:

  • hold Ready Set Learn programs prior to kindergarten registration not after (I would suggest November or at the latest in January as kindergarten registration for September takes place at the beginning of February)
  • parents should be able to meet kindergarten teachers from area schools and check out some sample activities so they can really get an idea of the learning atmosphere their child will be experiencing
  • parents should continue to be able to meet area principals so they can get a sense of the different programs and curriculum that are offered in their area
  • promote this program more – for heaven’s sake, tell people specifically what it is for. ¬†Nobody should show up for something in search of information not knowing what they are there for (yes, I was confused!) The government has very competent communications professionals – use them!

I think that there would be a much higher turnout for Ready Set Learn with the changes I have suggested. Here’s hoping!

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3 thoughts on “Ready Set Learn Fails to Deliver

  1. I’m not convinced though that Ready Set Learn is anything more than a readiness program for families, getting their three-year-olds along the right path to being ready for school. Through my experience with ECE in the area, there is a real need to ensure that parents know the basics they should be covering with their preschoolers. Familiarization with specific schools and gaining extra information are additional benefits for families attending. I can’t remember if school-specific info sessions were available before we registered for Kindergarten.

    From what I can find on the web, the programs already take place before kindergarten registration because they are advertised for parents with three-year-olds as a prep for kindergarten. Indeed, this is what I thought the programs were for when my son was in this age group, and since he was doing OK felt no need to attend. I got much more valuable IRL advice about specific school choices from families in my area, through chatting and comparing notes in the park. As an immigrant, I was specifically looking for advice on the French Immersion program and also what Canadian school culture was all about. Luckily, parents I met locally were a great source.

    Having gone through Kindergarten to Grade 4 with my son, I’m not surprised there were no kindergarten teachers at the Ready Set Learn session – all but one (in the most affluent area, with a majority two-income households) in SD43 took place during school hours and this might be similar in other jurisdictions. Kindergarten teachers can also rotate between schools in our area – they’re not always at the same school.

    1. I know what you are saying but to be honest, I didn’t see a huge value in what was being offered the way the program is being run. If they are wanting to focus on readiness, then they should be promoting more than just strong start. When my son was three, this session would have been a complete waste of time for me. At least as the parent of a 4 year old, I was interested to talk to the principals about the schools in the area.

      1. Again from my experience, the programs on offer are more about catching the most at-risk families than providing a comprehensive pre-school learning environment for all. Socially-aware and educated families will always get to the information by other means – disadvantaged and in-need families require the safety net of referral to programs such as Strong Start and Ready Set Learn.

        There is definitely a need for a good informational pre-K session before registration starts though. Maybe something like a mini schools fair run over a weekend would be enough to showcase what each school has on site. To be honest though, I’m not really sure how much this would help prospective students and their parents – things change from one school year to the next.

        BTW, I think you are in my neighbourhood, so if I can help you with any questions about my own school catchment area just give send me your Qs.

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