Orléans preschool celebrates milestone anniversary

Kelly Snider
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MILESTONE. This year, The Orléans Preschool (TOPS) is celebrating their 35th year in the east end community.  Faith Dearlove, director, said it feels fantastic to be up and running for this long and the school has definitely seen changes over the past three-plus decades.

Faith Dearlove, director, said it feels fantastic that the preschool has been up and running for 35 years.

"We've worked hard to upgrade the building through fundraising and through families who were and are currently registered, and through capital funding," said Dearlove, who explained that they received $30,000 through capital funding this year.

"Each family is asked to give $100 a year towards renovations and we usually have about 50 to 60 children, so that's how much we get per year and what we do is distributeit….so all new cupboards and small renovations like the flooring."

However, renovations aren't the only changes the preschool has seen.

"35 years ago there were parent duty days, but those are no more anymore. Parents are usually both working and what they want is care, which we are providing through our program from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m."

Dearlove said the toddler program filled faster without the parental responsibilities of having to come in for parent duty.

As well, the parents used to have snack duty day. The Ministry of Education asked the preschool to discontinue the program and now they offer a catered lunch program through Farm Boy.

One of the biggest changes that has been seen in the preschool is the way of teaching.

Those who teach at the preschool are Registered Early Childhood Educators. Dearlove said they program what they teach to whatever is happening out in the real world.

"Right now it's all about me, so we're making an apple tree and asking to bring in pictures. Also a lot of families are going apple picking and harvesting."

She added that they will not tell the children what to do from point A to point B, but rather let them explore.

"We put everything out for them and they get to see what they can do with it, it's learning through play," said Dearlove. "Developing independence, self-help skills, and preparing for kindergarten."

She said they're teaching the children how to pour their own water, put on and take off their own shoes, and self-dress for the winter and fall.

"The way of teaching has changed. When I first started 12 years ago, you had to take the piece that was cut out and the children would put it where you tell them. Now it's all free and exploration."

Dearlove added that through independence and free play, the children develop cooperative play. "I find if it's more structured and more teacher hands on, you don’t get to see that cooperative component as much."

The preschool, located off Youville Dr., offers a toddler program as well as a preschool program for children two-years-old to four-years-old.

Organizations: Orléans preschool, Ministry of Education

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