It’s the time of the year when there’s lots to sign up for and lots to think about. There are all kinds of resources for kids’ activities. School District 46’s Early Years programming for (ages zero to five) includes lots of free offerings.

I spoke with Sue Lamb, family support navigator with SD46’s Early Years team. She was excited to tell me more about the fall SPARK! sessions for caregivers of newborns to age five.

Sue explains that the SPARK! program is one of the Early Years’ core programs. The focus of these particular free sessions includes learning how to set limits in firm and kind ways, literacy and numeracy, attachment and developmental stages and much more. “SPARK!” is called such because the sessions teach how to “spark” your child’s learning in all areas including social, emotional and physical.

The program is geared for the child’s particular age. For example, all parents of newborns to one-year-olds meet at the same time. And then two-year-olds. And so on and so forth. It’s a chance for people with children of similar ages to share their questions about what’s happening at that age, and it’s a chance to meet other caregivers you might even be able to relate to.


The hope is that the format of SPARK! is accessible enough for all parents and caregivers on the Coast to get a chance to participate in some or all of the three-times-per-year sessions, every school year, as a child grows. Morning sessions are offered on Zoom and in-person (in Gibsons and Sechelt), and the evening sessions are just on Zoom. Anyone in the child’s life can attend, it doesn’t have to be just the primary caregivers or parents. The in-person classes have child minding on a first come, first served advance registration basis.



“We love having grandparents or aunties, or anyone involved in the child’s life join us,” Sue told me over the phone. (And I could tell she was smiling when she said this.)

One of the bonuses of attending the SPARK! program is that parents leave the classes with free age-appropriate toys, printed handouts, as well as the ability to sign their kids up for a free monthly book subscription through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library just from attending. (You “renew” this subscription every time you attend the three-times yearly sessions, and if you do this, the books just keep coming every month until your child turns five!)

And a quick plug about other SD46 Early Years programming (it’s all free) happening now or down the road:



Attachment-based parenting classes are offered throughout the year. Some are hour-long commitments; others happen over a series of weeks. At the same online registration space as SPARK!, you can register now for one-hour “parenting solutions” sessions. These include things like “the sensitive child” or “tantrums and meltdowns.” As well, look out for these multi-session learning programs for caregivers of children of a variety of ages (not just little ones!) including: “circle of security,” “positive discipline,” and “being present parenting.”

In terms of day-to-day opportunities for connection and learning, the brand new Wonderwheels Bus (think a roving bus filled with books, where Ms. Sarah leads hikes and story times in locations around the Coast) launches again on Oct. 3. There should be a new calendar online as we speak. And of course, StrongStart Centres for parents and little ones to drop in and play and get a free snack – parents can get coffee and tea – open up and down the Coast on the same date. Note: Roberts Creek and Sechelt StrongStarts are also open Saturdays!

For questions about any of this or help with SPARK! and other program registration, contact the family navigators at earlyyears@sd46.bc.ca – 604-885-6787. To register for SPARK! Or “parenting solutions” online: www.early-learning.sd46.bc.ca/register-now/ and click “Fall SPARK! And parenting solutions.” For more on other Early Years programming visit early-learning.sd46.bc.ca/.



Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub. The Resource Centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Note: on some days, we can book clients after 2p.m. Contact us: help@resourcecentre.ca or 604-885-4088