The Strawberry Vale Preschool Community

outside_with_kids_smallDo you want an opportunity to be actively involved with your preschooler’s education? Would you like to participate in the classroom environment where you can watch your preschooler’s confidence grow? Are you looking for relationships with families that have similar educational values? Do you want your preschooler to learn from qualified, passionate and highly experienced educators?

Strawberry Vale Preschool is a cooperative preschool operated by families. The families of our preschoolers come together to take part in their children’s first educational experience, and to run the “Little Red Schoolhouse”. Our educational program is directed by an outstanding Early Childhood Educator Teacher Gail who is not only a teacher of our preschoolers but also a mentor for parents and caregivers of preschool children.

At Strawberry Vale Preschool, we promise to foster the development of our preschoolers by encouraging independence, curiosity, and creativity through play.

We take pride in learning about parenting our preschoolers for the betterment of our children and our preschool community.

For preschoolers, Strawberry Vale Preschool is a place to learn basic values, a place to get messy, and a place to meet friends and neighbours. Preschoolers are always encouraged to explore their own interests and try new experiences.

Learning Through Play

Our education philosophy is centered around the belief that children learn the foundations of logic, reasoning, communication and problem solving from engaging in active play. This philosophy is commonly referred to as learning through play.

What is learning through play? Stacking giant coloured blocks in patterns, learning about the environment by bringing it into the classroom, learning about gravity and buoyancy with a water table, engaging with others in a positive and creative manner through pretend play and storytelling.

The most innovative learning environment one could ask for and one that is conducive to just about every life-long learning style.

For more information please read an article prepared in 2006 for the Canadian Council on Learning “Let the children play: Nature’s answer to early learning” 

“Play is the work of childhood” – Mr. Rogers, Mister Rogers Neighbourhood

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

Meet our Teacher


Teacher Gail is the Early Childhood Educator at Strawberry Vale Preschool. She has worked with preschoolers as a Licensed ECE since 1986.

Returning home to the Island after 20 years on the mainland I found my dream job right here at Strawberry Vale Preschool, the school I attended as a child myself! I remember coming to this school as a wide eyed, shy 3 year old and adoring my preschool teacher Mrs. Ethel Cummins.Now I am that lucky teacher that rings the school bell and opens the door to all of those lovely little faces, so full of excitement to start their day of fun and exploration. What other job welcomes you with smiles, hugs, exciting news to share and gifts of special treasures found on the way to school…perhaps a flower, a stick or a worm!

As parents, teachers and caregivers, it is my belief that our job is to foster the natural curiosity and excitement children have during these early learning years. By providing a safe and comfortable environment we allow the children to challenge themselves (and us) as they use playful learning to explore their world and marvel over each and every experience.

A Day at Strawberry Vale Preschool

Your preschooler will be welcomed into the school by small school bells rung by classmates. Coats, backpacks, and outside shoes come off, inside shoes go on, and hands are washed.

Once inside the bright and open single room classroom, there are always a variety of activities to explore each day; some new and some familiar.

The preschoolers can access an easel with paints, freestyle craft table, play dough, dress-up area, play kitchen, cars, puzzles, science/sensory tables, and the reading loft. Each day, a book can be borrowed from the reading loft to take home in their book bag.

Every class, the preschoolers have unstructured play, circle and story time, snack time, and the day always ends with outside play, rain or shine.

The Family Commitment

Each family at our school contributes to our community:

  • One family member is required to become trained to assist in the classroom once or twice a month. This is a great opportunity to play an active part in your child’s school experience. You will help the children with their activities, provide some supervision and tidy up in preparation for the next class. If you are unable to commit to helping, please read the information on partial participation on our programs page.
  • One family member is required to take on a job within the school. Job duties include hygiene, building and yard maintenance, washing and mending, shopping, floor cleaning, social convening and participating on various committees.  There are also executive roles, including enrollment, orientation, fundraising, marketing, parent education, treasurer, vice president, president. Each family has the opportunity to express what they are interested in doing and always have great support from the community when needed.
  • Attend monthly general meetings. Meetings are scheduled 6:45-9:15pm on the second Tuesday of every month and include both educational and business components. The parent education component provides an opportunity to have an open discussion on relevant topics pertaining to the preschool age group. You might not realize you share a common concern with parents in our school and parent education meetings give you the chance to share these concerns finding a resource within our preschool. The community expands with parent education but we bring it to you. Your input helps provide presentations on topics you want to hear. A simple survey after each meeting provides feedback on whether the topic and presenter warrant a return.
  • Take part in seasonal school cleans.  Shifts in the cleans run 2 hours long.
  • Provide fundraising support through taking part in our major fundraisers throughout the year or by opting out of fundraising for an extra fee.
  • You may also be asked to help collect household items for school crafts or to occasionally make playdough for the school.

Our preschool is a member of the Vancouver Island Cooperative Preschool Association (VICPA) which supports other cooperative preschools on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Please see the VICPA website for more information.

For more information about the school and our policies and bylaws, please download our Parents Handbook.

Special School Traditions

Meet Star the dog, our preschool mascot. In the classes that run three times a week, the preschoolers take turns taking Star home with them for the weekend.

Star comes with clothing, a leash and collar, a toy, a dog dish, and a special book that he loves to have read to him. The book bridges a theme that is being developed in the classroom by Teacher Gail.

Your preschooler will get to care for Star and take him out on adventures then add to Star’s journal by drawing a picture and telling a story about their weekend with Star.

Special crafts and food are made during the year. In the fall, the preschoolers make applesauce or apple crisp. Cookies are baked and decorated around several holidays. At Christmas, the preschoolers make and bring home a special centerpiece for your table and jar of cranberry sauce to compliment holiday meals.

There are also special theme days where your preschooler will get to wear something fun for preschool. They include Crazy Hat/Hair Day, Pancake Pajama Day, and Pirate Day.

Teacher Gail loves to engage the kids in mad science with colourful bubbling concoctions. Each year, the preschoolers observe the lifecycle of frogs as they transform from eggs to tadpoles and chickens as they hatch from eggs.

Outings from the preschool are common. We are very lucky to have a small patch of forest with plenty of trails and climbing opportunities right outside our fenced area where we go for our forest days. We also have an amazing learning pond right outside our schoolhouse fence where the class ventures for tadpole hunting and other learning opportunities. We also coordinate one field trip a month somewhere in the community (fire halls, nature sanctuaries, grocery stores, etc.).

Family and cultural traditions and talents are also commonly celebrated. Each year, our families are asked if they can share anything with our classes. We often have families that make special food that is traditional in their household or that share musical or other talents.

The Little Red Schoolhouse History

Photo © Saanich Archives - 1980-001-012c

Photo © Saanich Archives – 1980-001-012c

The Strawberry Vale Schoolhouse, originally sited on Hastings St., was built in 1894 for $800.00. The schoolhouse is a classic example of the western Canadian “little red schoolhouse with white trim.”

The first teacher, until 1902, was Mr. T. Monk, who was paid $50.00 a month. Later years saw Mrs. Ethel Cummins, Mrs. Joan Salmon, and Mrs. Juanita Olsen as teachers of the children’s preschool program.

This heritage building has survived numerous moves, renovations and threats of closure through the dedication and tenacity of many generations of parents and community members. In 1951 the building was moved by Copley Brothers free of charge so that the new elementary school could be built. The Colquitz Co-operative Playgroup renovated the building and has used it ever since. Strawberry Vale Preschool was incorporated in its current form in January 1994 as the schoolhouse celebrated its 100th birthday. It is currently situated just across the field from its original site.

More details can be found at Canada’s Historic Places (historicplaces.ca).