New preschool planned for White City

Denise Evans retires from 33 years of teaching in June and in the fall she plans to open an at-home preschool. Photo by Robyn Tocker

Denise Evans has spent the majority of her life teaching, and with her upcoming retirement she’s looking to continue that career at home.

Evans plans to open an at-home preschool in White City in the fall. Stepping Stones Preschool will be open to three-year-olds Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and four-year-olds Wednesdays and Fridays 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

“I’m retiring at the end of June, but I still want to work with kids,” Evans said.

She has taught kindergarten, grade 1 and 2 at McLean School for 33 years.

Before and after school care will also be offered, as well as kindergarten children on their non-school days.

“I can still provide additional kindergarten programming for them, which would really help give them a boost for grade 1 because I know what they need to know,” she said.

“I still like doing a lot of fun things, but now that I don’t have to worry about the curriculum outcomes and report cards and answering to anybody, I can just do what I want,” she said.

Evans will teach in themes, just like she did at McLean.

“I want to tie in literacy and art and music and science into my monthly themes,” she explained. “I will also use Jolly Phonics with three and four-year-olds.”

Jolly Phonics is a program from the United Kingdom. It teaches literacy through synthetic phonics. The children learn letter sounds, letter formation, how to blend sounds together, how to identify letter sounds in words and how to read tricky words.

“It’s so important that they know their letters and their sounds in order to be able to read,” she said.

Evans recently got approved for her business licence, so she has not started advertising yet, but from the inquiries she made, it sounds like people would like another daycare in the area. She has not started formal registration yet, but she does have children on a wait list. An open house will be held Mar. 26 at 5 Emerald Vista from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

“I’m excited to work from home and do what I want and do lots of fun things with kids,” she said.

Evans has had requests for children to stay longer than the allotted time due to transportation conflictions and Evans said she is working out arrangements with the families.

Evans said it’s important to have her preschool open because she knows what young children need to know for school.

“The way the kindergarten curriculum is now, it’s so play-based, which is okay. But then because it’s so play-based, they’re not getting the pre-requisites that they need for grade 1. I’d like to provide them with those things,” she said. “I’m not blaming teachers. They’re doing their job and they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. But because the alphabet recognition isn’t a big emphasis anymore, when they come to grade 1 we have to start reading right away. If they don’t know their letters and sounds because they didn’t have to do so much of it in kindergarten, then I’m spending the first two months of school working on that.”

Evans believes her preschool will be slightly more academic than the daycares in the area.

“That’s what I’d like it to be,” she said. “It’s going to be a little more structured because I’ve got all those years of teaching. We will have more emphasis on curriculum things, but in a fun way. They’re not going to sit and do worksheets.”

The children will also have the opportunity to garden and go on nature hikes.