New preschool channels power of Oak Bay’s coastal landscape

Willows Coastal Preschool opens doors on HighScope model of education

Coun. Hazel Braithwaite cuts the ribbon on Oak Bay’s newest preschool

Oak Bay’s newest preschool officially opened last week, offering experiential learning with a focus on the natural environment.

Owners Rebecca Phillips and husband Sam Sherrod opened both Willows Coastal Preschool in Oak Bay and Kiowa Farm Preschool at their farm in Saanich earlier this fall.

While the Oak Bay school takes advantage of the local natural environment and proximity to the beach, the Saanich school takes a more farm-oriented approach, Phillips explains.

The school offers both half-day and full-day options for eight children and once each week, the Oak Bay group will venture to Saanich to visit the farm.

The Willows location was a natural for Phillips. “This is where I raised my children; I love Oak Bay,” she says.

Heading the class is early childhood educator Annette Vivier, often joined by a practicum student and education assistant to work with students with support needs.

In addition the Victoria Conservatory of Music has sponsored sessions with music teacher Nicole Payle.

“With my background in psychology and child and youth care, it’s always been important to me to provide quality programming that addresses all the developmental (needs) in a way that’s inclusive,” Phillips says.

Programming his built upon the HighScope model, a curriculum based on 40-plus years of research.

“The premise is to have a curriculum that addresses all the developmental areas in a balanced way,” Phillips says.