Sturgeon Public School Division launched a new Headstart program this fall at the Chateau Sturgeon Lodge in Legal. This innovative program brings preschool children and elderly people together under one roof, where they learn from each other in a way that benefits and brings joy to everyone involved.
The Legal Headstart program had an existing relationship with the residents of Chateau Sturgeon Lodge, including monthly intergenerational (IG) learning opportunities where the seniors helped with craft activities. When the preschool needed a new space for the 2017-18 school year, Sturgeon Public School Division contacted Homeland Housing.
“After discussion and viewing other intergenerational projects in the area, we determined it was a pilot worth pursuing in the 2017-18 school year,” said Beverly Sagert, the division’s Early Childhood Director.
Many studies document the benefits of IG shared-site programming for children and seniors. Children, for example, can help residents whose arthritic hands make fine motor skills difficult, and elders can help children with tasks such as spelling or elaborating on ideas (Heydon & Daly 2008). Research indicates that young children who are regularly exposed to older adults in their school perform better academically than their peers who do not get the same exposure.
Supports for the Legal Headstart program include a teacher, two educational assistants, a speech language therapist, an occupational therapist, a family support worker and an educational psychologist. The program runs Monday to Friday from 8:30 – 11:20 am. Most programming will occur in the main lodge area with opening circle and individual teaching times in two lodge rooms rented by the division.
Program goals include:
The Headstart program is designed for children between the ages of 2 1/2 and 6 years who require extra support. Children accepted into these programs must be qualified through a screening process and meet the Alberta Special Education requirements for funding. Interested parents can contact Beverly Sagert at 780-939-4341.