Strengthening Collaborations in Early Childhood
For over 12 years Community Learning Centres (CLCs) across Quebec collaborate with local partners to provide resources to support families with children 0-5 years old. From parent-and-tot groups to evening workshops, community schools offer a welcoming place for families to play, share and learn. In an effort to bridge the various resources and offer additional support to schools and community organizations working on Early Childhood goals and outcomes, LEARN’s Provincial Resource Team (PRT) helped organize the first Early Childhood Symposium in February 2020.
The Symposium brought together 200 intersectoral partners from all levels of education, community and government agencies from across Quebec to deepen their knowledge and amplify their collaborative practices to better support children and families in the English-speaking community.
A highlight of the event, the Community Resource Carousel offered ample networking opportunities between service providers, institutions, consultants and educators to connect with community partners from various regions. The new relationships forged during this event will undoubtedly provide additional resources to families in the English-Speaking community of Quebec.
Along with the organizing committee (Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN), Leadership Committee for English Education in Quebec (LCEEQ), the Ministère de l'Éducation et de l'Enseignement supérieur (MEES), the Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers (SRESQ), Literacy Quebec, and LEARN), a number of Provincial institutions, government agencies and community organizations like English Language Arts Network (ELAN), Canadian Parents for French (CPF), Ometz, Child Development Institute (SNAP program), and several local organizations (NSCA, CASA, ARC, AGAPE) shared their services and resources with participants, forging new partnerships through a networking event held on the first day of the event and throughout the second day.
LEARN shared two projects developed with partners to support family engagement initiatives in early childhood and transition to school:
My Goodnight Bag is a bedtime routine kit for children aged 3 to 5 and their families, developed to complement ongoing initiatives that support families (parent workshops, family engagement initiatives and/or early literacy initiatives), guided by a partnership between CLC schools and local community organizations. Find out more: https://www.learnquebec.ca/goodnightbag
The Family Edition of the Linguistic Risk-Taking Passport is an initiative that encourages students to develop their second-language skills outside the classroom and to help build their confidence in their second language with the help of their family and community. Find out more: https://www.learnquebec.ca/family-passport
Click here (https://www.learnquebec.ca/early-childhood) to access more resources.
Family Literacy Nights
Community schools will often open their doors in the evening to host events for families and community members. One such event, Family Literacy Nights, has become a favourite way for families to share the joy of reading. The premise is simple: Invite families and community organizations to share their favourite stories - crafts and snacks are optional, but always a welcome addition.
One school in the Central Quebec School Board has become famous in their community for the intricate costumes and theatrical performances during their themed events, complete with a tea party and prizes for participating families, donated by the English Bookstore in Quebec City. The first in a series, the Alice in Wonderland literacy night in 2018 was the inaugural event that launched several more themed family nights in subsequent years. Community Development Agent (CDA) and Valcartier Elementary School secretary Jayne Doddridge says, "We have noticed in our school the difficulty some children have reading in English, so we wanted to create more spaces and opportunities for families to read in English." These family events complement the reading programs offered to students during the school day and give parents a chance to delight in the whimsy of the event and share the joy of storytime.
Literacy goals play a major role in most school success plans. Parkdale Elementary, a Community Learning Centre school in Montreal, hosted literacy events that invited families and community partners to participate. What started off as a goal on a strategic plan, turned into a true community effort. Staff members volunteered their time and shared their hobbies. Some led storytelling activities with arts and crafts, while the school secretary set up a “Teddy Bear Clinic” where children brought in their much-loved stuffed animals to be patched up. The Teddy Bear Doctor sewed on new eyes and buttons and gave the all-clear with a heart-themed bandage. Youths from the local YMCA ran a snack bar, while the principal helped students write cards to their favourite authors. The school librarian hosted a book-themed treasure hunt and the municipal library attended to loan out specially selected books and to make library cards for families on the spot. In the inaugural year, two “Little Lending Library” cases were built by a community member and Parkdale parents were able to fill it with book donations while the second one was donated to another school. Of course, all families left with a new or new-to-them book and a list of resources from local and provincial partners who participated in the event. Books, Bears and Blankets has been taking place since 2016 and is the highlight at the end of “I Love to Read” week.
Events like these emphasize the importance of literacy in family and community environments while creating a welcoming space for families to engage with school staff and community partners. Every year, family literacy events draw together more and more families and volunteers to the event, sharing cherished childhood stories from their culture and connecting with other parents in meaningful ways.
You can find out more about family engagement initiatives and access resources for families here (link to family engagement page) or contact LEARN’s Provincial Resource Team (PRT) by email.
Parent-Child Mother Goose
Eastern Townships School Board - Richmond and Region CLC, QC
Development of early literacy skills are essential for the successful integration of children into Kindergarten. CLCs have long promoted early childhood development and one of the most effective programs available is Parent Child Mother Goose. It is a program for parents and their babies and/or young children that focuses on the “pleasure and power of using rhymes, songs, and stories together” (National PCMG Program).
The Richmond Parent-Child Mother Goose Program was first implemented in 2014 as part of the eco-systemic approach to support pre-literacy taken by the local Table Concertation des Familles. In the second year of the program, partners recognized a need to train additional animators. This was an opportunity for the Richmond & Region CLC to organize a Certified Training opportunity for the community, thus eliminating the need to send people to Toronto for it. Through a grant from the Community Health and Social Services Network (CHSSN) obtained by Townshippers’ Association, the CLC made this training available to 17 teachers/ animators from 8 different communities and 9 different organizations. This resulted in at least 3 new Parent-Child Mother Goose programs being
created in the Estrie region.
This past Fall, the Richmond Parent-Child Mother Goose Program saw its registrations
double, from an average of 11 registrations per session to 24 families. In order to accommodate everyone, Townshippers’ Association supported the creation of a second group.
“This program is wonderful for parents from all walks of life and all ages and should
continue to exist!” Parent
The CLC collaborates with many partners to deliver this early literacy program to English-
speaking families in the Richmond area, including:
- Table de Concertation ValFamille
- Townshippers’ Association
- Literacy in Action
- Maison de la famille les Arbrisseaux
- National Parent-Child Mother Goose
- CIUSSS-Estrie RLS Richmond
- Richmond Pre-School
Over the 10-week program, parents are encouraged to share tips and advice with each other, thereby helping reduce isolation and facilitating the creation of peer-resource networks. The CLC Community Development Agent (CDA) also ensures that the animators have access to the Community Liaison Agent and health sector partners in order to share preventative health information as well as respond to potential needs.
The program supports both the acquisition of pre-literacy skills in the child as well as development of parenting skills. It helps “gives wings to parents”, to giving them the tools and confidence to take part in their child’s development and success. Workshops are structured to create and stimulate interaction between parent and child,
and animators teach parents how to communicate with their children through various play
strategies thus also stimulating language development.
“We use a lot of the material learned at the program at home. Rhymes like Tick-Tock helps
calm a grumpy baby!” Tammy Porter, Mom