Many parents struggle with the decision of whether or not they should send their child to daycare or stay at home. A daycare in Verdun is trying to offer a unique solution to this long-debated question. At Little Learners, parents are encouraged to drop off their children – and stay.
The English-language program is operated by the Collective Community Services (CCS), a non-profit group that offers a variety of services to Montreal’s anglophone community. According to Craig Sweeney, director of childhood services at CCS, Little Learners helps strengthen the bond between moms, dads and their kids.
« We feel this is the most effective way for children to learn. They work together. Children have always learned from their parents so having them in the room is fantastic for that, » says Sweeney.
Little Learners has been operating for close to a decade out of the Marcel-Giroux Centre on Bannantyne Avenue. It is open four days a week, Monday to Thursday from 9:00am to 12:30pm. Each year, about 50 children and their parents use the program.
« Parents pick up a lot by just observing. Here they get to see kids of all ages, » says educator Sylvia Mignacca. « They learn about children’s behaviours and how to handle certain situations. »
The cooperative program has been especially beneficial to new immigrant families according to Mignacca.
« They immediately develop a social network. Right away, they can meet about 10 other groups of parents. They can then help each other, » she says.
There are programs like Little Learners across Montreal, but only a handful are in English. It’s open to all Montreal residents. Program fees are scaled according to family income.
« If a parent is currently unemployed, we may not charge fees at all, » Craig Sweeney says.
There is currently a waiting list for parents to enter the program.