- Friedrich Froebel
The Early Childhood Programs at Bowen Children’s Centre nurture and engage children by providing learning opportunities that are developmentally appropriate in a stimulating, challenging, fun and truly creative environment.
Our Preschool and Daycare programs are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education (developed after World War 2 in the Emilia region in Italy), which is based on the belief that children benefit from a new, self-directed way of learning. An emergent and responsive curriculum gives children an opportunity to spearhead their own learning and co-construct the curriculum with their teachers. Guided by their sense of wonder, reflection on their own work, and meaningful questions that deepen learning, they proceed at their own pace. Education at BCC integrates child-inspired projects and adventures which spark children’s natural curiosity, interests, and enthusiasm. The atmosphere is warm, child-centric, and social. We share the children’s joy as they discover and learn.
We believe in learning through play. Play enables children to create an understanding of the world from their own experiences and have fun while doing it. Play influences all aspects of their growth and development—physical, social, emotional, creative and cognitive.
Our skilled and caring early childhood educators are dedicated to meeting the needs of all children in an atmosphere of respect, genuine interest and love. We follow children’s development individually, recognizing and respecting their differences and valuing them for the wonderful individuals that they are.
Our programs are a balance of group and individual activities. Teachers’ roles are fluid: guiding the children as they explore ideas and develop projects to support their learning and experiences. The programs include art activities, puzzles and manipulatives, science, dramatic play, as well as sensory play with substances such as sand, water and clay. We have group times (both small and large groups) which include sharing time, snack time, story time and physical exercise. We also offer music, language, games, experiments and projects. Projects at BCC are inspired, directed and produced by the child, and can last a few days or several months.
In an inclusive and diverse social setting, children develop inner discipline (self-regulation), independence and confidence (positive self esteem) and an understanding of the beauty of diversity. BCC strives for its childhood programs to have have a significant positive influence, guiding and enhancing children’s development in their important, formative years.
And, most of all, we believe that learning should be fun, full of laughter and joy!
Necessity being the mother of invention, a group of purposeful women launched Bowen Island Preschool in 1971 in Gail Taylor’s basement. Pat Weaver was the teacher, and the children’s parents took turns helping her. She was the first in a long line of dedicated, skilled and creative teachers, each of whom has given of herself to the program, leaving a memorable and valued imprint.
It wasn’t long before Bowen Island Preschool outgrew Gail’s house. The parents moved it to Collins Hall where it settled for many years under the guidance of teachers such as Gail Gallander and Lyn van Lidth de Jeude.
This island has seen many changes in the past four decades, and Bowen Island Preschool has grown, thrived, and kept pace. The program’s curriculum has always reflected the best of current knowledge about early childhood education.
In the mid-nineties a group of Preschool parents and the Preschool’s teacher, Ann Silberman, seeing the island’s dramatic population growth, envisioned a centre that would offer top quality early childhood education and childcare. The Preschool was outgrowing Collins Hall and clearly needed its own space, and Bowen Island’s young families needed quality, licensed childcare.
Envisioning a children’s centre was the easy part: making it happen demanded an extraordinary combination of initiative, good timing, determination, community generosity, and some very hard work.
In 1996, "the Three Cathy's" – parent volunteers Kathy Dunster, Cathy Robertson, and Catherine Shaw – pleaded their case to the Government of British Columbia’s Ministry of Women’s Equality, which was then actively supporting the creation and expansion of non-profit daycares, and helped to obtain a start-up grant. Together with land donated by Wolfgang Duntz, the ambitious project was launched. Many members of the community rallied, donating dollars, materials, expertise, services and muscle.
Further into the planning phase, the Preschool committee that was driving the project realized that although the Preschool and Daycare would require only a single level, the site offered the opportunity to build a two-storey building. In the spirit of community, the committee members asked the Teen Centre—a small group that was uncomfortably sharing Collins Hall with the Preschool and other users—if it would like to participate, with a view to creating a space on the lower level where some of the island’s youth might hang out, plan activities and be supported. The Teen Centre’s board accepted the invitation, and pitched in to help with the building.
This was a large undertaking for a little Society. At one point the project faltered badly and its completion was in jeopardy. Once again, Wolfgang Duntz stepped in: with his backing, and under the direction of the remarkable Morganne Keplar, a group of dedicated volunteers worked tirelessly to get the job done. Volunteers helped with roofing, and mothers moved and buried pipes for the water and septic.
When the dust settled around its new building in the fall of 1998, Bowen Island Preschool had become part of Bowen Children’s Centre, a busy non-profit society that now includes three other core programs for the island’s children: The After School Club, the Community Daycare and Family Place. Staffed by knowledgeable, skilled early childhood educators, the Centre is a resource hub for the community’s young families, and also offers seminars and workshops on a wide range of relevant topics relating to parenting issues and early childhood development.
The Bowen Island Youth Centre operates programs for teens in the lower level of the building, supported by Bowen Island Municipality. The Municipality also offers various recreation and fitness classes there for the greater community.
Bowen Children’s Centre, the big red building with the black roof and colourful, multi-level playground, is now a fixture on Carter Road and a hive of activity. All the planning, exhaustion, anxiety and hard work have faded to mostly fond memories. It has been almost 20 years since those Preschool parents envisioned a centre for Bowen Island’s children, and then refused to give up until it became a reality. The little Preschool that began in Gail Taylor’s basement has come a very long way.