Pre-school is about energy, creativity, colour, engagement â where learning is fun, where children begin to build friendships and parents become an extension of the institution.
All of these elements are clearly in evidence at the Faith Temple Pre-school, where a vigilant, warm team of four teachers oversees some 35 young children in their care.
There is accommodation for 60, explains supervisor Janice Samuel, who has been in the field of Early Childhood Education for 33 years, 12 of them at the Faith Temple Pre-school. However, intake is kept to a maximum of 40, in line with the national teacher/student ratio set for pre-schools.
The walls of the spacious ground floor area of the Faith Temple Church, from which the pre-school operates, are artistically decorated to stimulate the children and fire their imagination.
âWe have different corners set up in the classroom that help to bring out the particular areas of development,â Samuel adds for further clarity.
So, there are corners for science and math, creative play and art; and on Friday mornings, when activities are a bit more relaxed, children may be taken for a walk in the community, where they also learn through observation.
At the Faith Temple pre-school, learning is done using the SPICE model. The acronym encompasses the social, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional spheres of development.
And at Faith Temple, the spiritual development is also emphasized, as each dayâs structured activity begins with devotions.
Teachers are on spot to begin receiving children from as early as 7.45 a.m. Youngsters meet, greet and socialize with their friends during this time before structured activities begin at 9 a.m. through to 2:30 in the afternoon when they begin to leave for home.
Over a period of almost three years, the pre-school, located at Chapmanâs Street, New Montrose, gets the children ready to enter the formal school system.
âNo formal writing is done â¦our activities are geared at preparing the children for primary school,â Samuel underscores, in light of the expectations of some parents.
While there are no pre-requisites for admission of children to the pre-school, teachers are required to complete the Early Childhood Education programme offered by VINSAVE â the current staff are all secondary school graduates as well.
Generations have passed through the doors of the Faith Temple Pre-school, which was founded 50 years ago this year.
Carlita Dennie, who served as supervisor of the pre-school from 1983-2015, recollects that it was Canadian missionaries, Jack and Daisy Keys, who started it at their Lodge Village home.
The Keys had come to St Vincent in late 1966 to plant the Faith Temple Church. Mrs Keys had young children of different ages and decided to home school them, since there was an absence of pre-schools in the neighborhood. She offered to include other children in the community, thus giving birth to what is now the Faith Temple Pre-school.
The church regards the pre-school as part of its community outreach programme, dispensing with rent, and absorbing the cost of electricity and water. This allows the school to charge a fee of $100 per month, inclusive of a hot, daily lunch.
The public voted the Faith Temple Pre-school as best in the Best of SVG 2017 Awards, a decision that Samuel says made them quite happy.
âIt is a good feeling to know that people appreciate that we would have done goodâ¦ our programme develops the whole child, so people are satisfied with the care that we extend to their children,â some of whom are the grandchildren of persons who attended the pre-school in its earlier years.