It was a tough decision to move our 4-year old son to a new school, but after a challenging junior kindergarten year at the local public school, we knew we had to find a different environment to help him find the enthusiasm for learning he had lost. From day one Kingsley delivered on the promise to "belong, discover, thrive". Our son was made to feel important, listened to and respected. And I felt listened to, respected and involved. The boy who didn't say a word in class in JK and who hated going to school was bringing found objects to place in the classroom discovery table by the end of the week. Daily, I hear about his trips to the park for recess, about the "obstacle course" he helped design. Outdoor time - of which there is plenty - is his favourite thing. He recently said "Mom, I didn't used to talk but now I do. I talk to Ms. Dominguez" (his teacher). Quiet time, with a mat and a blanket, is a surprisingly positive part of his day. He tells us how he "relaxed, with my shoes off." His only disappointment is that he walks to school now instead of riding the school bus :)
We are very happy parents! Communication is frequent and meaningful. We love receiving daily photos via the SeeSaw app. We are welcomed into the classroom at drop-off and pick-up to help our son settle in and feel good before saying good-bye. No more drop-off trauma, and no feeling like a nuisance or that the teacher doesn't have time to chat with us. It's a very relaxed and peaceful morning for all of us. Administratively, everything is seamless, professional and friendly. Can't ask for more.
We feel like our son won the teacher lottery! Ms. Dominguez is patient, gentle, enthusiastic, engaged and seems to genuinely enjoy her job and kids. She often shares an anecdote from the day during pick-up. Our son arrived at Kingsley with an incomplete comprehension of the alphabet, no phonics, unable to spell his name and certainly not reading. Five weeks into the term he is beginning to sight read and sound out words and can spell his name. His confidence has soared.
Kingsley's strength is its small size. Our son receives the attention he needs to keep him engaged and learning, but respecting his young age and need to play and be outside. Learning opportunities are all around; the teaching moves outside and to the park. He is learning French and having music instruction. He has a gym teacher. Initially, I was worried that the school's small size would be a negative but it has turned out to be the opposite. I have no doubt that our son is ahead of the game, so to speak. I believe the lessons he is learning in respect, collaboration and self-regulation will serve him well in his academic life.
What a pleasant surprise! Our son participated in a Terry Fox run with another local independent school. He is taking kindergarten typing lessons from Hatch once a week and he has the opportunity for private music lessons after school.
What stands out for me is what a group of polite, friendly and confident kids Kingsley has. The older kids know the kindergarten kids well - they play together - and our son is greeted by a chorus of "hellos" and "good-byes" daily. It's lovely.
Our son is happy. We're happy. We are no longer asked "Where am I going today? Is it a school day" followed by tears and flopping on the ground in despair. The teacher will warm up his lunch for him. He is cared for, we can see that. It's evident in his attitude and demeanor. It means everything to us. It's our sincere hope that Kingsley grows (but not too big!) so that the program can continue to grade 8. Our earlier concerns that the school was located in a church rather than a purpose-built building have evaporated. The sense of belonging, the individualized learning and the environment of respect and inclusivity displaces any of our concerns about location.
It's a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
Kingsley is in a great spot: it backs on to quiet, leafy streets. A large park down the street is used daily for extended recess. The school participated in a food drive to benefit the church where Kingsley is located. The school participated in a Terry Fox run with a neighbouring school.
Admissions was very straightforward. We, the parents, interviewed the school, not vice-versa.