Early Learners (0-5 years)

Early Learning Initiatives in our school district

early_learning_colorThe school district would like to let parents know about some of the early learning opportunities available in our district including: StrongStart; Early Learning Fairs; Ready, Set, Learn; Full Day Kindergarten; Kindergarten Orientation; and Kindergarten Gradual Entry. A brief overview of each initiative can be found below. For more information about early learning programs please contact: Jennifer Findlay, Early Learning Coordinator School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) at 250-833-2095 or email: jfindlay@sd83.bc.ca.

Ready, Set, Learn Events

Ready Set Learn events take place in every elementary school in School District No. 83. These are free early learning events that are open to families and caregivers with children who are 3 and 4 years old. Families and their children who attend will engage in play-based early learning activities while finding out about the early learning programs and services offered by our school district and community organizations. Families will receive free books and a kit of materials and resources to help support their child’s early learning experiences.

Kindergarten orientation events

In the year before starting school, parents/caregivers and their children are invited to attend a Kindergarten Orientation at their neighbourhood school.  Families meet school principals, kindergarten teachers, and school resource personnel and participate in a number of learning activities. For more information please contact your neighbourhood school or contact Jennifer Findlay at 250-833-2095.


StrongStart is a free school-based program that provides play-based early learning opportunities for children (0 to 5 years old) and their parents or caregivers.

Our full-time StrongStart programs run five days a week for three hours a day at the following locations: District Education Support Centre (Salmon Arm), South Broadview Elementary (Salmon Arm), MV Beattie Elementary (Enderby), Highland Park Elementary (Armstrong), and Parkview Elementary (Sicamous). Families are welcome to drop in for all or just part of the program on any day the program is running.

There are also part-time programs at Carlin, Falkland and North Shuswap. “We are so fortunate to have such an awesome team of Early Childhood Educators!” comments Early Learning Co-ordinator Jennifer Findlay.

Early Learning Fairs

Early Years Fairs are held annually in Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Enderby, Armstrong and the South Shuswap area. In partnership with local Early Childhood Development Committees and community organizations, Early Years Fairs provide an opportunity for families with preschoolers to find out more about early learning programs and community services available to families. Free entertainment, snacks, and books are often provided and children have the chance to engage in fun play-based learning activities.

Full School Day Kindergarten & Gradual Entry

A high quality, play-based Kindergarten program has long-term benefits for children’s academic and social skills and helps them to succeed in school and in life. Full day kindergarten is another step towards building a strong foundation for lifelong learning, in a nurturing, play-based environment.  Starting in 2010, the Ministry of Education began phasing in universal access over two years. Full day kindergarten is now available for all five-year-olds in the province.

In SD83, Kindergarten children are welcomed into their new school at the beginning of September by their classroom teacher and other key staff members using the Gradual Entry model. Students will attend in small groups and/or for shorter periods of time based on the schedule sent home to parents. The gradual entry process helps support a smooth and successful transition into Kindergarten. Teachers will be introducing children to classroom routines and procedures and helping the students adjust to the new social and emotional realities of school.

 For more information about early learning programs, please contact  Jennifer Findlay, Early Learning Coordinator, North Okanagan-Shuswap School District #83 at 250-833-2095 or by email at jfindlay@sd83.bc.ca.