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Sooke School District sees steady numbers for kindergarten registration

Lack of qualified teachers limiting French immersion curriculum
Nature kindergarten students Rebekah Doucet and Rhy LaRose, both 5, collect seashells at Billings Spit beach on Friday. Sassenos elementary school is the only school in Sooke, which offers nature kindergarten. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)

It’s kindergarten registration season for the Sooke School District and the district is pleased with the interest it has seen so far.

Registration for French immersion and nature kindergarten closed on Jan. 14 while registration for regular kindergarten in the 2022-2023 school year runs from Jan. 24 to 28.

Associate superintendent Stephanie Smith said the district continues to see strong registration numbers in all of its kindergarten programs.

”We are really happy, we had a great response,” said Smith. “There is great support for (nature and French immersion kindergarten) in Sooke … and district-wide we did really well too.”

Smith said both programs are full, and there are some children currently on waitlists to get in. She said in previous years they have typically been able to find room for most children who were initially on a waitlist, as other families can change their minds or end up moving throughout the summer before classes start.

French curriculum, in particular, has such high demand that the district would like to add more spaces, but Smith said they are unable to find new teachers qualified to teach French immersion. She said this is an issue that is being experienced throughout the province and the country as a whole.

“Until we have a pool of French immersion teachers to bring into our system, we are really limited.”

READ MORE: Principals named for new Langford schools set to open in 2022

While nature kindergarten – which sees students spend their mornings learning outside before returning indoors for the afternoon and is only offered by the district at Sangster Elementary and Saseenos Elementary – has been consistently popular since it was first offered in 2012, Smith said demand for it this year was similar as in previous years.

Its popularity – and the pandemic – has led to changes in other curriculums, however, with many teachers deciding to include outdoor instruction as part of their classes throughout the district, Smith said.

“I think most parents want their local school, that seems to be the most important thing for them,” she said. “But you don’t need to be in nature (kindergarten) to have a teacher that is willing to take the class outside.”

As they gear up for another week of registrations, Smith said the district is expecting regular kindergarten registration numbers to be similar to previous years. And thanks to a new elementary school being built in west Langford, the district does not expect to have any kindergarten capacity issues for the coming school year.

Parents planning on registering their children for kindergarten next school year should visit for information on the required documents, and for the link to the registration site once it goes live.

READ MORE: Major growth continues in Sooke School District


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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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