Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
December 3, 2001
Catholic playschool draws Leduc children
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
LEDUC — Some 15 children between the ages of 5 and 6 are learning about their faith, math and science and having a good time at St. Michael's Little Angels Catholic Playschool.
"Today we're going to play 'things that float and things that don't,'" teacher Lucy Nay invited the children.
"You should guess first if it is going to float or not, because that is what science is all about," said Nay.
The children were enthusiastic and excitedly took their turns in throwing some objects into a playcart that the parents and teacher at the playschool made.
Before October, no Catholic playschool was in operation either in Leduc or in Edmonton.
About a year ago, Connie Myshak enrolled her son in a Christian playschool. Talking to her friends, she asked why were there no Catholic playschools.
This inspired Myshak and her friends to look into how they could start one in their parish. They stirred interest among other parishioners and received support from the parish staff.
After going through re-painting, re-decorating and thorough inspections of a room in the church basement, they were given the green light to accommodate 15 children for this year, with a possibility of expansion next year.
"We have been given wonderful support from the community," Myshak said.
The parish offered the room for free while Catholic schools in Leduc allowed them to fundraise by inviting them to put up concessions at their big events.
For each child $270 is charged a year, an amount that covers supplies and the teacher's salary.
Michelle Lemar, said it was rewarding putting up the playschool.
"I met a lot of good people through it. . . . We had a lot of cooperation, commitment and enthusiasm from families and from our parish council."
Nay, an educational assistant in a storefront school in Leduc, was one of the parents who started the playschool. The board decided to hire her to teach the children.
For Nay, it is a privilege to be able to "help the children grow in their faith," by sharing her love for God with them through education.
"To be able to do that in an educational setting is just wonderful," Nay told the WCR.
"I really have a great love for learning and I want to share the joy of exploring the world," Nay said.
When Nay hears children say, "I can't," she wants to have that transformed into "I can." "I want to help them expand their horizon," said Nay.
She believes that, more than formal programs, what is important are the interactions between the child, the teacher and the environment.
Due to that conviction, Nay does not allow commercialized and brand name toys in the playschool. There is not a single toy with recognizable logos like Lego, Barbie, Barney and the likes.
Nay believes that exposure to commercialized and brand name toys is the beginning of consumerism being instilled in the minds of children.
"I don't want them to be influenced by that at this age," said Hay
What Nay looks for are simple toys that can be used for teaching concepts.
"We have a lovely math and science centre and they don't even know they're learning math and science."
Learning through the love of Jesus Christ is the philosophy behind the playschool. That's why whenever conflict arises among the children, the immediate question would be "What would Jesus do?"
"It's a wonderful way of introducing the children to our faith," Nay said.
On the other hand, Nay told the WCR that it has been a challenge to find Christian-based literature suitable for the age of the children in the playschool.
Parents are satisfied with what the playschool has to offer.
Laurie Sirois, a parent, thinks the playschool is great.
"My child is very comfortable coming here and we have a small class and I think the teacher has a vast amount of knowledge of what's best for our kids."
Madeline Oliver thinks the Catholic playschool is a wonderful way for her child to learn about the faith.
"I think it's fantastic and a great way for the children to be comfortable in the Church."
Myshak encourages other parent groups from other parishes to look into the possibilities of forming their own playschool.
For groups interested, St. Michael's Playschool is willing to share its experience. Call Connie Myshak at 986-2413 or Michelle Lemar at 986-2500.
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