Nestled in the woods where the trees softly whisper, where the animals stop long enough to offer a watchful eye, and where the sounds and smells of nature envelop the senses, there is a place where children laugh, play, learn, and grow. This might sound like a fairy tale, but for families attending Sunshine Hill Parent Participation Preschool in Delta, this is a real place where children and families flourish.
SHPPP started more than fifty years ago, in 1965, by a group of moms who wanted a preschool for their three- and four-year-old children that centred on play-based learning and wanted more control over their children’s educational beginnings. From the first coffee meeting to today, Sunshine Hills is a safe, nurturing learning space for children and their parents.
“We are unique in that we are a parent participation school,” says Lauren Camara, outgoing president of the SHPPP executive. “We are a not-for-profit school that is run entirely by the parents. We look after enrolment, accounting, the facilities, and we have classroom duties. Parents, children, and teachers all participate in the learning environment. We value working together as a team.”
This parent team is all about building community, with lifelong friendships being made between families.
Lori Hodder, educator at SHPPP, says as much as they are an early learning program providing opportunities for children to grow and develop in a safe, supportive, and engaging environment, they are also about families as a whole.
“What makes us unique is that, in addition to providing a place for families to connect with each other and make long lasting relationships, we offer parent education evenings, family and parent social events and embark on a social justice initiative each year for those in our community who may not be as fortunate as we are,” says Lori. “We understand that parents are busy and our program does require extra parental engagement, but hope when they choose to send their child to our ‘little preschool in the woods’ that they will experience first hand how their child is building a foundation for a love of learning at the beginning of their educational journey and that they (the parents) have also made some new connections, felt supported in their parenting and learned some new skills that will help their child in their future learning.”
In addition to parent involvement inside and outside the classroom, there are long-tenured, qualified teachers at SHPPP.
“One of our current teachers has been with us for 26 years. Another one of our teachers just recently retired after 31 years,” says Lauren. That longevity with the school speaks to the essential and healthy partnership between the teachers and the parents.
“Our teachers are very special people. They are the heart of our school and are passionate about early childhood learning,” says Lauren. “They design and deliver an evolving curriculum to meet every child’s needs. This creative learning is an important element at SHPPP and is possible because of our teachers’ dedication and knowledge.”
SHPPP is a member of the Council of Parent Participation Preschools in BC (CPPPBC). The Council is an umbrella organization supporting member cooperative preschools throughout BC. Schools follow Provincial Licensing and Council regulations ensuring preschools meet or exceed government licensing and safety standards.
Parents or other family members become qualified to assist in Duty Days by completing a criminal record check and satisfying specific requirements such as information sessions and parent education seminars. In addition to Duty Days, Parents attend general meetings, participate in the annual school clean-up, and hold a volunteer committee position.
“The basis of our program is child-centred play,” says Lauren. “Through play, children use their creativity. They develop and strengthen their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional well-being.”
Child-directed play is not only fun, but it also allows children to interact and process the world around them. Children are given a safe environment to master new skills, learn to work in groups, negotiate, problem solve, share, and build confidence. The preschool becomes a community of support and shared growth.
There are multiple field trip opportunities, including visits to the pumpkin patch, riding the Christmas train, and horseback riding, to name a few. Over the years, there have been classroom visits from Indigenous Elders and dancers, firefighters, police officers, Mike’s Critters and others. Special events include Mother’s Day Tea and a Father’s Day evening. You can visit the website for more information on programming at https://www.shppp.org/programming
Sunshine Hills Parent Participation Preschool is currently accepting registration for its 2022-23 school year; please visit https://www.shppp.org/registration
For more information on SHPPP, visit https://www.shppp.org/
6750 Carncross Crescent,
Delta, BC V4E 2L5