Most parents enrol their children in preschool around age 3 or 4, but at one Montreal daycare, academic instruction begins as young as 18 months.
At Smart Kids Preschool Academy, which opened last August, Director Galina Koulakova said the focus on academics is unique, and noted that even the youngest toddlers in the program play with toys chosen specifically for their educational value.
“Kids should play and they learn through play, but at the same time we are very careful in choosing the toys,” she said. For example, although 18-month-olds can’t yet read, Koulakova said they play with building blocks that signify phonetic sounds, which they can use to build simple words like “mama.” “They don’t know letters or the alphabet but we can teach them how to identify ma, mo and me,” she added.
Smart Kids, located in Cote des Neiges, also emphasizes pre-writing activities, counting, and exercises to illustrate basic math concepts like addition and subtraction. “We are working towards the transition to school at a very early age,” Koulakova said.
In addition to academic instruction and free play, the program includes yoga classes, dancing, arts & crafts and is offered to kids between 18 months and 5 years, either full- or part-time. Smart Kids also offers a day camp program during school breaks for children aged 5 to 12 that includes art and craft activities, cooking lessons, athletics and field trips, as well as an after school program for kids 6 to 12.
Occasionally, the preschool hosts weekend workshops for children on various themes, such as robotics, art, science, cooking, or seasonal themes. The facility is also available to rent for birthday parties, with an option to hire an animator to lead cooking or art activities during the party.
Parents can meet the educators and learn more about the program at an open house on Saturday, April 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The preschool is located at 5192 Pare St.
For more information, call 514-379-1550 or visit academiesmartkids.ca.