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North Vancouver school’s innovative program sets children up for lifelong success

Early education is critical for a child’s development and aptitude for lifelong learning, an abundance of literature suggests.

Early education is critical for a child’s development and aptitude for lifelong learning, an abundance of literature suggests.

“Children are sponges, especially in the early years, absorbing information from the world around them and making sense of it,” says Karen McCulla, Head of Brockton School, an independent school in North Vancouver. Brockton School is an independent, co-educational, non-denominational International Baccalaureate (IB) School that offers world renowned curriculum to their students from Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12.

Research has established that the human brain develops the majority of its neural pathways in the early years of life. Early childhood is a time of rapid development, however a young brain’s receptiveness to learning is not enough to ensure it actually happens. It’s why parents are encouraged to engage their children, as much as possible, in learning activities such as reading at home and it’s why early learning programs matter

To help foster this early growth and development, Brockton School introduced its thoughtfully conceived Junior Kindergarten program in 2016.

“The foundations of learning are absolutely critical,” McCulla says. “When we look at overall brain development we know there is rapid growth in those learning years. Early education supports the  opportunity to activate those neural pathways and set children up for success.”

Brockton Early Learning Art Class - excellent ratio of teachers: students & highly trained/qualified teachers, including specialists

Open to children who will turn four by December 31st, Brockton School’s Junior Kindergarten program works within the framework of the IB Early Years program.

“In addition to being in an IB setting, our Junior Kindergarten is an extremely unique program,” says Jane Richards, Director of Brockton’s Junior School and the Early Learning Years Coordinator. “Our  teachers are outstanding and really believe in co-creating the learning experience with the children. While there is a robust and intentional curriculum, the students lead the learning in directions that interest them the most. We follow what they’re passionate about so they can make authentic connections to their learning.”

“It’s very much a program that engages children in their own learning, inspiring them to wonder and want to learn,” McCulla says.

As McCulla and Richards concur, Junior Kindergarten is an opportunity for children to establish healthy relationships with their peers and the community at large, and it provides an opportunity for students to develop emotional self-awareness, strategies for reflection, and a growth mindset.

“Our Junior Kindergarten students experience the beginning of self-awareness and self-expression, and begin to take steps towards real empathy,” Richards says.

Junior Kindergarten at Brockton School begins to lay the foundation for a child’s capacity for lifelong learning through hands-on classroom exploration and an excellent ratio of students to highly trained and qualified teachers.

“There are long-lasting neural pathways that are being built with early education,” McCulla says. “We’re not just talking about cognition. It’s not just about how smart a child is. It’s the multiple aspects of growth that are at play.”

This wholistic growth mindset reflects Brockton School’s philosophy of embracing the genius of each child and their mission statement of “inspiring the growth of outstanding humans.”

Authentic and child-centered environment with hands-on exploration and inquiry-based learning

“It’s about helping children on the path to explore their gifts and challenges, and to be the best person they can be in pursuit of their own dreams and in contribution to a better world,” McCulla says.

Children aren’t the only ones supported by Brockton School’s Junior Kindergarten program.

“We help parents on their journey as well,” McCulla says. “It’s also an education for parents to learn how to parent a four-year-old. The support network is key.”

Brockton School prides itself on an Admissions Policy that is diverse, inclusive, and accessible. This includes generous financial aid packages for students who qualify. McCulla stresses that the tuition costs should not make anyone feel as though attending the school is out of reach and encourages families  to explore the school’s financial aid program.

“Sometimes people look at independent schools and think they’d never be able to go there,” McCulla says. “But if Brockton is a great fit for your child, the opportunity is available .”

To learn more about admission to Brockton School’s Junior Kindergarten program and find Open House dates, visit the school’s website at