by Xanthe Leblanc
On June 8, 2019, I had the good fortune to attend the Grand Opening of Alpha’s Discovery Kids — Oakville. There were a lot of people who came out to celebrate with owner Susie Beghin and her family—dignitaries, like Oakville MPP Stephen Crawford, staff, friends, local families interested in the prospect of a new daycare and preschool in the area, and many business colleagues who have supported her along the way to achieving this milestone.
When you enter the foyer of the centre, framed on the wall is a quote from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and noted educator Mark Van Doren: “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” This is very much representative of the approach Alpha’s Discovery Kids has been taking to preschool education in their Mississauga location since 2012. Susie started fulfilling her dreams as an ECE (Early Childhood Educator) in 2004 when she opened an indoor playground, Alpha’s Discovery Club, offering a new and unique play environment with children’s programs and other activities. This was the first step in a long-term goal of offering top-quality daycare and preschool education to children in Mississauga and the surrounding areas, and, although she has since shifted her focus to expanding the preschool aspect of her business, the idea of play and learning is still very much a part of their core curriculum.
The new Oakville location of Alpha’s Discovery Kids is freshly renovated and equipped, and has a capacity of 48 children. There are three rooms, divided by age group:
● A Toddler Room (12m–2-1/2yr), with capacity for 15 children
● A Junior Preschool Room (2-1/2–3-1/2yr), with capacity for 15 children
● A Senior Preschool Room (3-1/2–-5yr), with capacity for 18 children
There is also a large, outdoor play area with a rubberized, soft surface for safety, lots of equipment and toys, and both sun and shaded areas. The children enjoy two hour-long outdoor play sessions as part of their curriculum. There is also a 2-hour nap every day for the full-time students who still need that rest time, while those who no longer nap participate in quiet activities.
Curriculum-wise, Susie and her team have developed what they call the 4 Pillars of Learning, and they use this approach at both Alpha’s locations. The 4 Pillars are:
1. Language and Literacy: Reading and writing is taught for every age group, to some extent. Theses are considered Foundation skills. In order to learn, you have to be able to read and write.
2. STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math—These days we are hearing a lot about encouraging STEM careers for high school students, particularly girls because of the lack of women in these fields. STEM activities are taught to all children at Alpha’s, but they also include the category “Art” in their curriculum to foster creativity in growing minds. Creativity is essential, because without it there are no advancements
3. Physical Activity and Nutrition: Taking care of your body is important and it is never too early to start teaching children how to do this. The children at Alpha’s participate in both indoor and outdoor physical activities at least twice a day. They are taught about how eating well helps them take care of themselves, and they have a fully catered menu, approved by a Registered Dietician, that follows the New Canada Food Guide.
4. Being Mindful: The children at Alpha’s learn about mindfulness as part of the core curriculum. They are taught the importance of kindness, problem solving skills, self-regulation and self-calming techniques, and mindful stretching.
Aside from this ground-breaking approach to preschool curriculum, why else should a parent consider Alpha’s Discovery Kids?
● They offer flexibility. Alpha’s has a variety of part-time options, to suit almost any family’s schedule. If your family has special scheduling needs, they will do their best to accommodate you.
● Alpha’s not only teaches Technology to your children they use it to keep parents in touch with their children’s day-to-day activities using an app called Hi Mama. While this type of technology is available to other daycare providers, Alpha’s is second-to-none at exploiting everything the app has to offer the parents—pictures in real time, schedules of the day’s activities, menus and food consumption on a daily basis, sleep patterns, and real time progress reports of the children’s learning. A lot of this information is also available on their website.
● Quality teachers and ECEs. The Mississauga location has low turnover, with many employees there for over 5 years. They are committed to the centre and to the kids, and this commitment gives the kids a sense of continuity and safety.
● Alpha’s follows an “emergent curriculum”. What does this mean? It means they are flexible in their lesson plans and they are always listening and paying attention to what the children are showing a sustained interest in on any given day. If the questions about one topic keep coming, the staff does their research and in the next day or so they come armed with a lesson plan or experiment that will engage the kids on the topic and help them learn more about it. They believe that, when kids are interested and engaged, the learning comes naturally.
It has been a long time since my kids were young enough to require daycare and preschool options, but after learning a few years back about the dedication and commitment Alpha’s has to their charges, and the groundbreaking approach they take to preschool education, I almost wish they did. Instead, I recommend Alpha’s every chance I get, to anyone I know with small children. The Oakville community, especially their children, are very lucky to have the new Alpha’s Discovery Kids in their midst.
Alpha’s Discovery Kids in Oakville, located at 609 Ford Drive, Unit 3–4, Oakville, ON, L6J 7Z6, is now accepting applications for their waiting list. Please contact Susie Beghin at 905-337-7225. Click here to contact us by email.