"Teachers are already seeing increased learning and decreasing levels of conflict in the classrooms," Suzie Soloman of Sea to Sky Community Services Society was quoted as saying in a document published by Communities That Care.
According to Christine Buttkus, Squamish project co-ordinator for CTC, benefits seen in children involved in High/Scope programs include positive gains in social skills; decreases in hyperactivity, shyness and aggression; and increased initiative, creative representation, language and logic. Longer term success has also been documented.
"In the long term we expect that children will be less at risk of developing problem behaviours once they reach the teenage years," Buttkus explained. "We really want to help children develop skills that will help them develop into healthy and successful teenagers and adults."
Twenty-two preschool teachers from Whistler, Squamish and Mount Currie recently graduated from an 18-month program designed to qualify them in the High/Scope approach to early childhood education. The High/Scope approach emphasizes active learning and child-centred, child-directed play and has been proven to foster creativity, independence and better social relations in children, as well as better quality of life for children when they become adults.
The idea to bring the High/Scope approach to Sea to Sky communities came about as a result of efforts by community partners in Squamish who wanted to find ways of preventing high-risk behaviour from developing in local youth. The High/Scope approach was chosen out of a number of programs under consideration because of the large body of evidence documenting its positive results.
To date more than $74,000 has been donated by numerous local and Lower Mainland organizations to support the teacher-training program.
The next step for the program is to obtain funding to provide continuing education opportunities for teachers and to bring a permanent trainer to the area to instruct other teachers in the High/Scope approach.
For now, however, organizers are happy with how far the program has come.
"I think were just really excited that weve reached this stage. It really has taken a huge commitment on behalf of all the communities and organizations and individuals," Buttkus commented.
The High/Scope approach is currently in use in a number of countries around the world including the United States, the Netherlands, England, Indonesia, Singapore and Mexico.
For more information on the High/Scope approach visit www.highscope.org.
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