Teachers  Rhonda Sylven (centre right) and  Daunine Burbank (centre left) hand out scrapbooks to students on the last day of classes for the year at the Lambrick Park Preschool.

Teachers Rhonda Sylven (centre right) and Daunine Burbank (centre left) hand out scrapbooks to students on the last day of classes for the year at the Lambrick Park Preschool.

Preschool celebrates 40 years

Volunteers help Saanich-based co-op preschool thrive

What started off as a playgroup led by a group of moms in a church basement, has evolved into a-four-decades-long early child care education institution in Gordon Head.

Lambrick Park Preschool and Childcare was honoured with a Child Care Legacy Award from the province after being founded in Gordon Head United Church in May of 1970, where it remains today after several moves along the way.

The first preschool group, held when the church was located on Torquay Drive, had less than 15 children but grew to 30 kids by 1971. In 1972, the school moved to the St. Dunstan’s Anglican Church at San Juan and Tyndall avenues and by the end of that year, the group had grown to 60.

In September 1983 the preschool packed up and followed the Gordon Head United Church to its current location at 4205 Tyndall Ave. This time the school was given its own space on the main floor.

Keitha Walsh remembers her search for a preschool for her two children in the 1970s. For her, the co-op model stood out.

“There were volunteer parents, you committed to support and activity, but it was directed by the teacher – the atmosphere was very different,” Walsh said.

Her daughter, Andrea, has stayed in contact with three of the girls she went to preschool with.

Current teacher Rhonda Sylven took hold of the opportunity to teach at the school when it came up in the mid 1980s and has loved the role ever since.

“It’s a pretty exciting time of development and the range of things that (kids) learn in that two-to-five range is massive,” Sylven said.

“They’re magical thinkers, not rigid in the way they think. They’re very open to discoveries and trying new things.”

The non-profit preschool has wrapped up another 10-month, play-based preschool program with 43 students in June. It also offers child care, but it’s not a daycare.

The difference between daycare and preschool, Sylven said, is the focus on physical and emotional and social development found at the preschool.

The difference between co-op preschool and any other preschool, remains family involvement. Parents – or grandparents, nannies, or any other care giver – take part in duties and workshops at the school alongside its two employees.

nnorth@saanichnews.com