Early childhood education is a vital step in any kid's life in shaping their immediate and distant future.
Portage Ukrainian Nursery School director Lori Carpenter agrees and explains that these preschool years are a formative time for kids.
"So much of their learning happens when they're just young before they get to go to big school," says Carpenter. "The children that come to see us learn so many skills. We have groups of 25 children between the ages of two and six, and our kids learn from each other. The little ones learn from the older ones, and the older ones like to lead the little ones. It's a really nice social community for them, and they get to know 24 other children from different families, cultures, ages and stages."
Carpenter says that she has been influencing the next generation at the nursery for 30 years and explains what she finds rewarding about her role.
"I've got kids of kids coming, and it's such a nice feeling to have that community around and to know that families are trusting us with their little ones, then coming back and trusting us with their little ones. So, it's a really warm feeling. I think we have a strong sense of community here. We take great pride in being here for our community and providing a quality program for everyone to access."
Carpenter notes that she has learned a lot from the kids that she gets that pleasure to be around in her time at the nursery.
"They come up with new things all the time and new ways of looking at a situation that I may have some sort of preconceived notion about. I love that they're in the moment. I love that sometimes they are upset, and then a few minutes later, they've moved on. I think that grown-ups need to take some lessons from little kids and be a little bit more in the moment with life, especially now when things are kind of different for everyone. At least we've got one place where our little ones can come and be together and see their friends."
She shares a story to illustrate the nursey's connection with the kids.
"In the big storm just before Easter, we had kids demanding to come to nursery school, and we had one mom who couldn't get her car out of the driveway. So, they got out the toboggan, and mom pulled her all the way to nursery school so that she could come for the afternoon. I think that speaks to the connection that children have here, and I think that's one of my favourite things is the connection that I have with the children and their families."
The Nursery School's director adds that there are many activities that kids take joy in, but having access to a gym space due to being located at the Trinity United Church is where she finds most kids enjoy themselves the most.
"It's nice to have a spot where you can just run until you're out of breath and chase your friends."
Carpenter points out that their work wouldn't be possible without the great people that work at the nursery, parents, and the community.
April 24-30 has been recognized as Early Childhood Educator Week in the province.