News & Events

StrongStart: expanding how we support our youngest learners

From birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more rapidly than at any other age of their lives. And in a typical year, that learning has included socialization with other kids and adults – from pre-school or day care options, to playdates and family visits. But after the last two years of this pandemic, many families have understandably chosen to pull back from those more traditional interactions, and instead have kept kids closer to home.

“Certainly many education and counselling experts are addressing how that’s impacting the development and emotional well-being of kids,” said District Vice-Principal Tanis Anderson. “And we can also see the same thing as parents: kids who are a little more shy, a little less inclined to make friends on the playground and a little more inclined to want to stick close to home.”

As this latest wave of COVID is currently on a downturn, what we’re seeing is increased interest in parents and kids when it comes to getting out, getting connected and getting more active in the community.

That’s why we’re so excited to be sharing our newly expanded spaces and program options for our StrongStart programs!

For those who don’t know: StrongStart Early Learning Centres are free drop-in centres for pre-school children age 0 to 5, and for their parents or caregivers. Qualified early childhood educators facilitate learning activities such as story time, music and art – an introduction to learning through play.

Here what’s new in our at our StrongStart Centres:

  • We’ve now increased the hours for each program.
  • We have moved from having 6 to 12 families at a time.
  • We have recently added a new “We are Going to Kindergarten” program – targeting kids entering kindergarten in September of 2022. The program is already a hit at Queensborough and, following Spring Break, will be starting up at both our Skwo:wech and Connaught sites as well!
  • And starting March 31st we will be adding another new program – Explore Outdoors. This program will be held rain or shine at the outdoor play space at Hume Park (not at the Hume Park Learning Centre); and because it’s outside, there’s no need to book in advance and no limits on participation numbers. Click here to learn about our new StrongStart: Explore Outdoors program.

While we have expanded programs, we are still operating under COVID related safety measures. Spots must be booked in advance (spaces can be booked up to 14 days in advance), only one adult per family may attend, and all adults must wear masks inside.

To learn more about the options, and book a spot a space in advance (where required):

We’re excited to be announcing these expanded offerings, and we really looking forward to engaging with more families in New Westminster!


StrongStart is a great way to help get your kids ready for kindergarten: it offers socialization, structured learning through play, a chance to get used to school-like spaces, and lots of other great learning opportunities. But if it’s not for you, that’s okay too. Here’s a helpful article that outlines what does and does not need to happen to help your child be kindergarten ready:

While we have worked hard to expand options, we know there is not always room, or the times and locations may not work for you. If you’re looking for other ways to help get your child engaged in play based learning, here are a few New Westminster options you may also want to consider:

Check out this great calendar showing a variety of community events and activities available to support young families in New Westminster, with free options of things to do, most days of the week:

Or see what New West Family Place has going on at the many locations they work across: