Coffee with: Early learning centre opening in Tsawwassen
You won't find any slides, swing sets or Disney memorabilia at the new early learning centre being built in Tsawwassen.
At Renaissance Kids, children are encouraged to create their own play.
Offering kindergarten, junior kindergarten and toddler programs, the facility will follow an integrated curriculum of fine arts and academics for children aged 18 months to six years old.
The centre will be located in the former Southpointe Academy building at Century Square on 56th Street. Once renovations are complete in September, the 5,000-square-foot space will be able to accommodate 57 students.
"It's going to be totally transformed," says Linda Shirley, CEO of Renaissance Kids. "The upstairs space we're going to turn into a nice, big arts studio. It's a beautiful space, it's got lots of natural light and it actually lends itself very nicely to an arts studio."
Renaissance Kids, which already has one location in Steveston, is operated by The Arts Connection, a visual and performing arts facility that has been in Richmond more than two decades.
Shirley says the youngsters at Renaissance Kids are taught to appreciate "the finer things in life" such as music, dance, art and theatre.
"We believe that those things feed a child's soul and those things are really important in order to develop a well-rounded child that will grow up into a well-rounded adult," she says. "If you present children and put them in an environment of beautiful things, you'll get that beauty back out of them again."
Rather than taking field trips to the pumpkin patch, Renaissance Kids students might take in the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit at Science World or a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performance.
Shirley says the learning centre's low student-teacher ratio is another thing that sets it apart from other preschools.
"We have the ability to work with the children in much smaller groups, to really focus in on their particular needs, their particular talents," she says.
The Richmond location has a student waiting list, despite continued expansions. Shirley says she decided to open a second location in South Delta after hearing through the "childcare grapevine" there was a need in Tsawwassen for a good-quality children's program with an arts and academic focus.
She was also inspired by the success of Southpointe Academy, which outgrew its former location and last winter moved into a brand new campus on the east side of 56th Street.
"That led us to believe that possibly there was a need for that same level of programming for the younger set," she said.
She hopes Renaissance Kids will fill the gap left by Southpointe when it stopped offering its pre-kindergarten program after relocating.
Because the building is still in the early stages of renovations, Shirley invites interested parents to tour the Richmond location to get a sense of what's to come.
For more information, visit www.renaissancekids.ca.