The Ready, Set, Learn bus zipped through Fernie on May 28, delivering early learning packages to École Isabella Dicken Elementary School’s (EIDES) future kindergarteners. Parents, caregivers, and gleeful youngsters met the bus at predetermined locations to receive the packages from a socially responsible distance.
The packages contained a variety of educational resources including books, activities, stationary, crafting supplies, and information packs for caregivers. Funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Education, the Ready, Set, Learn program strives to assist children aged three to five transition into school while connecting early learners with their educators.
Typically, buses pick children and their caregivers up, transporting them to the school for an activity based educational event. Due to current regulations, EIDES staff created a “Reverse School Bus”, ensuring children still received learning resources alongside the highly anticipated school bus experience.
According to Andy Coe, Fernie Early Years coordinator, EIDES staff distributed 75 early learning packages throughout the community.
“There was a great turn out. Principal Nicole Neufeld and Mrs.Fraser were on the bus and said everyone was very excited to see them and the bus. Children had photos taken in front of the bus with their packages. There was lots of smiles and waving,” said Coe.
The bus drop offs were followed by a virtual Early Learning Fair later that evening, intended to foster greater connections between families, the school system, and local community agencies.
While the Early Learning Fair is typically carried out in the school’s gymnasium, offering parents the opportunity to chat with professionals in the early years field, pandemic restrictions required this year’s assembly to be held online. Representatives from community organizations educated caregivers about the services and programs available for local children aged seven and under via Zoom.
Speaking at the event were representatives from the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, StrongStart, youth care workers, a dental hygienist, an aboriginal early years outreach worker, a speech and language pathologist, a program consultant for the East Kootenay Child Care Resource and Referral, and more.