JK/SK Frequently Asked Questions



Why does Building Blocks offer a Junior/Senior Kindergarten Program as well as a Preschool Program?

Our program has always been open to all children ages 2-5. When JK was first introduced to the school system we had families who wanted to continue with us because of our smaller numbers. One of the first questions people ask when enquiring about preschool is our child/ teacher ratio. Under the Day Nurseries Act, which we follow as a licensed school, the ratio is 8-1 for preschoolers and 10-1 for JK/SK classes. Many parents who stay with us question the much higher numbers present in JK/SK classes being offered in the public and separate boards. We do not count teaching assistants or helpers into our ratios so in actual fact in some classes there are 4 adults for up to 20 children registered.

We know from experience children who are JK age do much better with smaller numbers. Early childhood education is first and foremost about ratios. Many of our parents are teachers themselves.

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Why do parents choose to stay with Building Blocks for the JK/SK years?

All parents like the small child teacher ratios we offer. They like the staff and interactions between parents, children and teachers. Many feel their child is safe at Building Blocks because of the smaller class size. No child feels lost at Building Blocks. There is much individual attention given to everyone. We have children attend our JK/SK program who did not even attend our preschool. We are highly recommended by many professionals in the community. In January 05 we had a Sheridan College Instructor visit our school to observe her student. After sitting in on the JK class she wanted to know if we had space for her SK child. She observed that our JK class did more than her son’s SK class. In November 04 we had a Doctor in from Sick Kids Hospital observing in one of our JK classes. She said she had never seen so much active learning in a 2 ½ hour program ever.

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Who are the teachers and how are they qualified?

Mrs. Joanne Freer ECE C (ECE- Early Childhood Education, Certified) and Mrs. Karen Sanger ECE started the school in 1986 because there was nothing available in Brampton at the time. They wanted to offer a half-day quality program that focused on families and offered both structure and valued free play. When we expanded our program in 2001, Mrs. Lorraine Quibell was hired. She had worked previously with special needs children in the Out Reach Program for Erin Oak. She had already been at Building Blocks one to one with a child with special needs, and we felt that she had the right fit for our school. Ms. Julie Kuehni was hired as an assistant teacher in 2007, previously working with children with special needs through an outside agency. Ms. Kuehni had her own children attend Building Blocks before working for us. Mrs. Jennifer Lam joined us in 2012. She is a certified Elementary school teacher and has worked for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic DSB. We take workshops that interest us in the evenings, do much research in Child Development and are current in First Aid.

We all comment on how we love what we do for a living.

Please see About Our Staff for more information on our teaching staff.

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Will my child be bored if he/she comes back to Building Blocks after 2 Years?

We hear this question often. Quite truthfully most parents who keep their child with us for 3 or 4 years tell us their child enjoyed the program the most in their last year with us. Except for Seasonal themes we change our program yearly. We have so many resources we change them frequently as well. Every year we think of more to add to our classes.

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Will my child be bored at SK Public School because he/she stayed at Building Blocks?

Children attending Building Blocks are taught how to learn and pay attention. They are open to learning once they leave us because we have given them the necessary strategies to do well in school. We had a parent tell us the SK teacher commented on how well and interested her child was doing in class, in fact she was excelling. The parent went on to say “She learned it all at Building Blocks!” This child is attending both SK in mornings at public school and SK 5 afternoons a week at Building Blocks. When she first started at the age of 2 she was like any other child. She needed reminders to sit still, and cried when her mom left.

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Doesn’t my child need to be with his peers so he fits in at “Big School”?

The children who have stayed at Building Blocks have not been hindered by not starting with “their class”. They have the same choice of making friends at Building Blocks as they would if they went to any school. Again because we are teaching them strategies for life they will make friends when they start big school because of the skills they gained at Building Blocks. Small numbers do make a difference! Many children in your neighbourhood will go to different schools.

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What do you teach in the JK/SK program compared to the Preschool Program?

ECEs are trained in child development from prenatal to age 6. Our JK/SK program is an expansion of our excellent preschool program. We teach an age appropriate curriculum to our students.

We teach a total of 40 sounds, utilizing sound bins, a phonics sound story, and a sound song with matching actions. We have puzzles specific to each letter as well as “puzzle letters.” Children in their JK year do a daily Phonics Worksheet. We find the vast majority of children in September cannot even hold a pencil. Children attending 3 or 5 times a week work on math worksheets as part of their curriculum. We have different activities for this age group as well. We teach children how to print their names, numbers, pre-reading and reading skills. If children already have these skills we challenge them with extra activities. We have an extensive lending library, which complements our Phonics Program. The books and sound bags are very helpful in reinforcing the work being done at school and extending it to the home environment where you can have an active role in your child’s learning.

In JK we teach a total of 40 sounds. In 2004/2005 our program expanded to include the 2nd year of the Phonics Program in SK. Children must have completed our JK Phonics program to be in this class. Children have a weekly spelling quiz and learn additional phonetic sounds. Grammar is also taught: nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and sentence structure. The children have a daily work sheet and do regular journaling using the above phonetic and grammatical techniques with Mrs. Sanger. All children who return for the second year do well and continue to love their time at Building Blocks.

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What is the difference between Building Blocks JK/SK and the Public/Separate School System?

While no two programs are alike, we can only comment on what our parents tell us. We know our numbers are much smaller. JK and SK classes have one main teacher: Mrs. Joanne Freer and Mrs. Karen Sanger, respectively. With just that number alone we are able to spend more time with each child. Each class has children who are shy, bold, busy and curious. We get to know your child and teach to their strengths. We have found with the changes we made in 2003 all the children are able to learn to read in our expanded program. Parents tell us how much fun their children are having at Building Blocks. Parents who are teachers tell us their children are at Grade 1, 2 or 3 levels. They are absolutely thrilled with their child’s progress. We feel if you can catch the child’s spark of interest and expand on it the sky is the limit. Children at this age love to learn. We are capitalizing on that love to learn.

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What about using Building Blocks JK/SK as a supplemental program? i.e. have my child go to half-day kindergarten in the morning and Building Blocks in the afternoon?

We have had quite a few families do both programs over the years. You know your child well enough to know if they can cope. Most families who choose this option do so for the academic aspect that Building Blocks offers, nurturing teachers, and the very small class size. We have had children attend our school for their SK year only after hearing about us from someone who has used us. These children do the JK curriculum and absolutely love our school. They are thrilled to be reading and printing and they tell us they enjoy all the different centres our school has. Families differ in what they choose, from 5, 3 to 2 half days a week with us. (The children tell us they prefer Building Blocks.)

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Are parents happy who have children in the JK/SK classes?

Yes!! Parents are telling us already in October that they are so thrilled with the decision they had made the previous spring. We have former parents who call us in September, October and November asking for spots when they aren’t happy with their child’s new school experience.

So many parents tell us they are so glad we recommended their child stay at Building Blocks. We have run into parents who did not return to Building Blocks also tell us that they regret the decision they made by not continuing. They tell us to tell the parents to stay with us!

Every year we have had students return to us in the fall because their parents were so disappointed with the JK/SK class their child was experiencing.

Parents tell us over and over again what a great experience Building Blocks is. Many times we have heard the question, why don’t you do a school to Grade 8? They are happy with what their child is learning.

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Why do you offer 2, 3 or 5 half days, and not full days?

We offer part time programs because we want to be available to all families. There are many families in our community who value a school-like atmosphere for their young child. We think children benefit greatly by a nurturing program. We don’t compete with day cares because we are providing a different service. This approach affords us to stay fresh and never burned out.

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Comments from Therapists, Resource Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Ministry of Education staff, Parents of JK and SK Students, and Former Students:

  • You should be teaching other centres on how to do circles.
  • You are one of the only centres who follow through.
  • You should be teaching teachers.
  • When are you starting Grade One?
  • I have never in all my years of teaching seen such young children perform so well. If I were younger I’d hire you all for my program.
  • Can my child sign up?
  • Building Blocks is the best school I ever went to!! – OAC student
  • Building Blocks was absolutely the most wonderful school and holds so many memories. -Parent of high school student.
  • In the five years my children have attended your school, it has only gotten better. We did not think it was possible to getter better and better, we were so happy from the first year. We feel blessed to have found Building Blocks.

To view other comments about our school, please see the Testimonials page.

We invite you to consider continuing your child’s education with us. If you have any further questions we are happy to answer them for you. Please feel free to contact us.

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