• Five Things to Remember as the Kids Head Back to School

    If you’re like most parents with kids heading back to school, you are probably preoccupied with the necessary busywork of parenting. The lists of school supplies alone is daunting, and on top of that, you’ve got to go through your children’s wardrobes and see what they need in terms of school clothes. You’ve also got school registration to contend with and other paperwork that can sometimes seem endless. With all that’s going on, it’s not uncommon for a few things to slip through the cracks.

    Things to remember as the kids head back to school

    However, even in this busy time, there are some other things we hope you will remember.

    • Kids need a chance to ease back into school and other activities. It may all feel overwhelming to you, but remember, it can also be overwhelming for your kids. Try not to schedule too many extra activities for the first week of school, being mindful of the fact they may need a little bit of extra downtime right at the beginning of the year.
    • Your child may be anxious about things he or she hasn’t expressed to you. Try to set aside time for one on one interaction with each child, whether it’s during a walk while making supper, or over a friendly board game. Encourage your kids to talk about their hopes, fears, and expectations for the coming school year, and you may be surprised to learn some new information.
    • It may take some adjustment to get back into the swing of homework. Be patient in those first weeks, and encourage good organizational habits, like writing down assignments in an agenda, doing homework immediately after school, and checking the backpack every night to make sure nothing else needs to be done. Provide children with a well-lit, well-organized place to study, and a central location for notes, newsletters, and other important papers.
    • Some kids may need a listening ear after school. It’s easy to get busy in the afternoon and evening, but it’s important to remember that kids need a trusted adult in whom to confide. Make yourself available after school, letting your children know that you care what’s on their minds.
    • Healthy sleep and a good diet are crucial for back to school success. Starting a couple of weeks before school starts, get your kids back into the routine of regular bedtimes, regular waking times, and healthy meals and snacks. Remember, the average school-aged child needs 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night, teenagers need at least 8 to 10 hours, and preschoolers need anywhere from 9 to 16 hours, depending on age and the individual child. Planning your child’s schedule to accommodate this much sleep, and staying firm about bedtimes can prevent many health and behavioral issues.

    Another thing it’s important to remember as kids head back to schools is the importance of the right afterschool care for your kids. If you’re looking for a great after school program, you owe it to yourself to check out Creative Learning Academy. One of the most sought-after afterschool programs in New Jersey, Creative Learning Academy’s school-aged program serves kids from kindergarten through 13 years old, providing an integrated curriculum full of fun, engaging, safe activities. Tailored to suit each age, grade, and stage, our program gives children time to relax and interact while still ensuring that their homework is completed and their education supported. For more information, visit our website or call 973.541.8241 today.

  • Fun and Educational Ways to Ease out of Summer

    When it’s time to go back to school, you want your kids to be prepared. In addition to having the right school supplies, it’s important for their minds to be ready to jump back into the routine, easily getting back to completing schoolwork and homework. On the other hand, kids need time to relax during the summer months, not just physically but mentally. Fortunately, you don’t have to make your kids do heaving homework during the summer. In fact, there are some fun things you can do with them to promote learning and get them ready to go back to school.

    While educational games can be useful, games don’t have to be specifically educational to promote learning. Depending on your child’s age and stage of development, you can find fun games that promote various types of learning.

    • To teach strategy:
      • Clue
      • Mastermind
      • Monopoly
      • Mancala
      • Settlers of Catan
      • Chess
    • To promote literacy:
      • Boggle
      • Scrabble
      • Bananagrams
      • Hedbandz
      • Apples to Apples
    • To build math skills:
      • Yahtzee
      • Sequence
      • Rummikub
      • Qwirkle

    You can also promote your children’s intellectual development by engaging them in conversations and tasks that help them in everyday life. Talk about current events with older kids, encouraging them to express their opinions, draw conclusions, and problem-solve, thinking of creative solutions to the issues of the day. At any age, kids can help around the house and learn. Helping in the kitchen is particularly useful: measuring and counting, scooping, pouring, mixing and chopping help them develop math skills, reasoning skills, and manual dexterity. Another good way to productively interact with your kids is just to discuss the upcoming school year. In a low-pressure way, perhaps while engaged in a fun activity, talk about your child’s hopes, fears, and expectations.

    Making a habit of being active outdoors helps your children both mentally and physically. Being active together gives you and your kids an opportunity for quality one on one time, which strengthens your bond, builds memories, and allows you time to impart wisdom about the world. Being outside also helps kids connect with nature, and that is good for their brains. Unstructured time outdoors allows kids to explore the world around them, learning about the earth and receiving a kind of stimulation of their senses that they can’t get inside.

    As you’re preparing your kids to go back to school, don’t forget to enroll them in an afterschool program that’s challenging, interesting, and fun. Creative Learning Academy had one of the most sought-after afterschool programs in New Jersey, with a school-aged program that serves kids from kindergarten through eighth grade. Providing an integrated curriculum full of fun, engaging, safe activities, tailored to suit each age, grade, and stage, we give children time to relax and interact while still ensuring that their homework is completed and their education supported. For more information, visit our website or call 973.541.8241 today.

  • Getting Kids Back into the Groove in Time to go Back to School

    The summer is drawing to a close, and it’s time to go back to school- are you ready? You’re probably already in the middle of back to school shopping, looking for all the school supplies and new clothes necessary to make the transition a smooth one. Those things are important but even more important is taking the time to prepare kids’ bodies and minds to go back to school.

    Preparing your kids for school after summer

    • Preparing the body: This is probably the most obvious hurdle. All those lazy summer days make for late bedtimes, and day sleeping becomes more of a habit than it usually is. When it’s time to go back to school, it can be hard to get back on schedule. If you want to get a jump on things, it’s a good idea to reinstate bedtimes a week or two before school starts. After a couple of days of going to bed on time, start waking your kids up at the time they’ll need to be up for school, even if they don’t have anywhere to be just yet. They’ll grumble at the newly enforced schedule, but you’ll all be happier when school is back in session.
    • Preparing the mind: This is something not everyone considers, but the brain needs a minute to wake up after the summer, too. Hopefully, you and your kids have been reading- and reading together- all summer. If not, it’s not too late for a trip to the library, to get them interested in a book. Another fun way to get the brain working is by playing board games that promote literacy, math skills, or strategy. It probably goes without saying that you should follow up with your kids to make sure that they’ve finished their summer school work, but it’s a good idea to start preemptively limiting screen time as well.
    • Preparing the house: Your house is probably in full summer mode as well, but it won’t take long to whip it into shape! Before you hit the stores for school supplies and new clothes, clean out closets, cupboards, desks, and last year’s backpacks. This might end up saving you money, as you may find things from your list that you didn’t even realize you already had. Check out the school’s website, and transfer important dates to your home calendar. The end of summer is also a great time to designate the homework hub for the school year: a well-lit, well-organized space where kids can do homework, and important papers and notices can be sorted and filed.

    Being proactive about going back to school is a great way to make sure your kids get off to a good start this year. While you’re getting ready for the school year, make sure you find an afterschool program that supports their education and enriches their minds. At Creative Learning Academy, we have an afterschool program that uses an integrated curriculum for kids from kindergarten through 13 years old. Tailored to suit each age, grade, and stage, our program incorporates fun, engaging, and safe activities that give children time to relax and interact while still ensuring that their homework is completed and their education supported. For more information, visit our website or call 973.541.8241 today.

  • Healthy Kid-Friendly Snacks for Summer

    When the sun is beating down, and the air conditioner is running full-blast, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven. This creates a quandary for you as a mom, because you still have to feed your children, even when cooking seems out of the question. By supper time things may have cooled down enough for you to pull together dinner, but during the day, you can keep your kids energized with these simple, healthy snacks for summer.

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    • Fruit Necklaces are a snack and activity in one. Just sit kids down with a yarn needle threaded with elastic cord, and plates full of healthy fruit like strawberries, grapes, and blueberries, and set them to work making necklaces. This activity is so much fun it even works on a playdate, and if you want to make it a little bit tricky, challenge them to create patterns.
    • Apple Nachos are simple and delicious. Slice up some apples, drizzle on some melted peanut butter and dark chocolate, top with almonds and coconut, and voila! A tasty treat. Want to make it even healthier? Skip the chocolate, and kids will still gobble it up.
    • Peanut Butter Yogurt Popsicles are nutritional powerhouses. They require a little bit of work in advance of snack time, but by using just five ingredients, you reap a host of nutritional benefits. Fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein are all packed into these delicious, creamy, frozen treats.
    • Strawberry Blueberry Frozen Yogurt Bark is another nutritious, cool, and scrumptious treat. It’s so simple that even the littlest kids will love to help you make it, and you can change the fruit to suit your mood. All it takes is yogurt, something to make it sweeter, and fruit.
    • Whip up some juicy Watermelon Slush in your blender. It only takes three ingredients and is so delicious you’ll want to skip the summer’s snow cones and just stick with the slush.
    • Pizza Kebabs are healthy and savory. Kids can’t live on fruit alone, and when you’re ready to feed them something not quite as sweet, these kebabs are a great option. All you need is whole wheat pita pockets cut into one-inch squares, mozzarella cubes, pepperoni slices, veggies of your choice, and pizza sauce. Give the kids some toothpicks, and let them design their own kebabs to dip in pizza sauce and enjoy. Pizza kebabs are equally tasty whether served warm or cold.

    In addition to keeping your kids healthy and strong with these nutritious snacks, remember to stimulate their minds with an engaging summer program. At Creative Learning Academy, our summer camp program in Succasunna, New Jersey, offers children a rich and varied experience. From swimming and sports to arts, crafts, music, and drama, to S.T.E.A.M. and computer activities, to field trips, our three, four and five-day program provide interesting and exciting activities for children from kindergarten through 7th grade. To learn more, call us at (973) 541-8241 or contact us through the website.

  • Five STEAM Activities to Try with Your Kids This Summer

    Is your child an innovative thinker? It’s important to nurture that creativity by providing opportunities to explore aspects of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Think of the world’s most innovative creations: airplanes, refrigeration, the Internet, and smartphones- we would have none of them if it weren’t for cross-disciplinary learning. If you want your kids to expand their minds this summer, try incorporating some STEAM activities.

    Seam activities for kids this summer

    What is STEAM and Why Does it Matter? STEAM is the acronym for science, technology, engineering, art, and math. This integrated, interdisciplinary approach to learning encourages students to think broadly about real-world problems. Kids participating in STEAM activities learn how to ask questions, form connections, develop problem-solving skills, think creatively, and look for innovative solutions to problems. STEM is important because jobs in these fields are growing astronomically and the trend is expected to continue. So why is it STEAM? Because incorporating art helps kids hone their spatial awareness, shed their inhibitions and think creatively.

    Are you ready to make STEAM activities part of your child’s summer? Here are five great activities to get you started. Note: most of these projects do require a little bit of adult assistance.

    • Build Geodesic Structures. With just some straws and pipe cleaners, your budding architects can create domes and spheres in an exercise that involves geometry, building, and math. Tip: You’ll want two different colored straws to make this one simpler.
    • Make Chromatography Bags. This project is fun because each participating child ends up with a cool tote bag of their own design to keep. All you need to create these cool works of art is a canvas tote bag for each child, black water-based markers, rubbing alcohol, and an eyedropper, plate, and small cup.
    • Grow a Crystal Garden This classic science experiment requires little more than Epsom salt, food coloring, water, and clean glass jars. In order for the beautiful crystals to grow, the projects will have to spend the night in the refrigerator. In the morning, the kids can check out the results with a magnifying glass to really see the detail of each crystal.
    • Make and play with Flextangles. A little planning, a little folding, and kids will have made their own colorful fidget toys! The only supplies required are cardstock, a template, a pen, markers, scissors, glue, and maybe tape.
    • Watch some Tiny Dancers What’s more exciting than a DIY motor? This project incorporates a homopolar motor and wire sculpture for some creative fun that teaches kids about electricity and electromagnetism. Using just copper wire, magnets, AA batteries, crepe paper and hot glue, you and your little scientists will soon be watching your creations come to life and dance.

    At Creative Learning Academy, we recognize the importance of empowering kids to explore the world through creative projects. That’s why we offer STEAM activities as part of our Summer Explorers program in Succasunna, NJ. Contact us today to learn more or to enroll your child.

  • Tips for Making Summer Count

    When the school year is winding down, parents and kids alike daydream about the fun and freedom summer days will bring. However, it’s easy for summer boredom to hit just days after the kids get out of school. Is it possible for the summer to live up to your family’s expectations, and can your kids remain gainfully occupied when regular activities are on hold? Yes! You can keep your children engaged, happy and learning with these tips for making summer count.

    Learn the tips for making your summar count

    • Go swimming! A beach vacation may not be on your agenda, but hitting the local pool can be fun and rewarding. Besides being a skill that all children should learn, swimming is a proven stress reliever. Studies show that swimming produces relaxation responses and mental tranquility similar to those provided by yoga. Not only that but as any mom will tell you, it wears the kids out!
    • Visit a local science center. Science centers are great places to explore nature and learn new things. Check out the center’s calendar to learn which exhibits are going to be on display, and you might even find some cool events to interest your family. Near Succasunna, there are some great science centers to explore, including Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ, Trailside Nature & Science Center in Mountainside, NJ, and Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA.
    • Grow a garden. Even little kids love to dig in the dirt and plant things that they can watch grow. Planning, tending, and reaping the rewards of a garden can help kids build a variety of skills, and you can boost the learning aspect by encouraging kids to keep a gardening journal. In this journal, they can write down questions and observations, keeping a written record of the growth of your summer garden. Gardening is a wonderful way to teach kids about healthy foods, the circle of life, and how to care for nature.
    • Read and write stories. Reading together is a great way to bond with your children while keeping their minds active. Writing together takes learning to the next level. There are so many great ways to inspire your kids to write. You can write a story together, encourage your kids to create a magazine, or show them how to start blogging.
    • Try geocaching. Geocaching is a cool outdoor activity for families: part hike, part scavenger hunt. Search for hidden caches using handheld GPS tools or apps, or try earthcaching, where you look for interesting geologic features. You can learn all about geocaching and earthcaching, and find links to even more information by visiting Geocaching 101: Family Fun for All, in Every Season.
    • Sign up for a summer program. Summer programs come in many forms, and you’re sure to find one to interest your kids. Whether you choose a sports program, an academic program, one that allows kids to pursue their artistic passions or some combination of more than one of these, summer programs are a great way to keep kids occupied during the summer.

    Creative Learning Academy offers a nine-week summer program in Succasunna, NJ for students entering kindergarten through 7th grade. We’re excited for this opportunity to provide kids with varied experiences, from the artistic to the sporty to the academic. Contact us through our website, or call 973.541.8241 to learn more.

  • 7 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Summer Program for Your Child

    During the summer, you want your child to learn, grow and have fun. In addition to having time to play with friends and interact with family, it’s important for children to keep learning and developing new skills. One way to ensure this is by enrolling them in a summer program.

    Ask the program director the following questions, so you know what to expect before you enroll your child.

    • What is the goal of your program? Summer programs have different philosophy and aims. A sports-oriented camp, for instance, focuses on physical activity, teamwork, and ambition, while an academic program is more likely to work on honing educational skills and helping children learn to think critically. Choosing between these camps is subjective, and should be based on your child’s interests, strengths, and summer goals. Beyond the basic type of camp, however, is the consideration of the camp’s philosophy. It’s important to choose a camp that is aligned with your family’s value system and your child’s temperament.
    • How do you recruit, background check and train your staff? Look for a camp that thoroughly screens and trains employees before putting them to work in the summer program. Do the counselors undergo criminal background checks? What about first aid training? How many counselors return for subsequent years? For most camps, according to the ACA, that number is about 40 to 60 percent. If counselors are not returning, that could be a sign that the camp is not well run. Ask the age of the counselors, too: at least 80 percent of the staff should be 18 or older, and the minimum age should be at least 16, and a minimum of two years older than the campers under their supervision.
    • What is the ratio of staff members to children? The camp should follow ACA guidelines. For overnight camps, this means a 1:6 ratio for ages 7 and 8, 1:8 ratio for 9-14, and a 1:10 ratio for ages 15-18. For a day camp, the requirements are less stringent: 1:8 for ages 6-8, 1:10 for 9-14, and 1:12 for children aged 15-18.
    • What is your approach to discipline? Know the camp’s rules, how conflict between campers is managed, and what infractions would be enough to send a camper home. Ask how negative behavior is handled, and make sure that you’re comfortable with the way the camp’s practices and rules line up with your parenting philosophy.
    • What is your daily schedule? Once you know the daily schedule, you can better gauge how the camp will line up with your child’s interests and preferred activity level.
    • How does field trip transportation work? Ask what vehicles are used to transport children, and how often they’re inspected. You should also find out who drives the vehicles and what training the drivers undergo.
    • Do you have references I can contact? It’s important to talk to parents with children who have attended the camp so that you can get a better overall view of the camp experience. If possible, allow the children to speak to each other as well. Ask both the parent and child to share anything they didn’t like about the camp, as well as the positive aspects.

    Creative Learning Academy is very proud of our Summer Explorers program in Succasunna, NJ. Through activities as diverse as swimming, sports, arts and crafts, music, drama, S.T.E.A.M. and computer activities, and field trips, we provide children with a rich and varied experience that helps them learn and grow. We offer three, four, and five-day programs for children from kindergarten through 7th grade. To learn more, call us at (973) 541-8241 or contact us through the website.

  • 6 Reasons to Enroll Your Child in Summer Camp

    Summer can be a good time to kick back and relax, but it’s also a time when your child’s skills can decline if you’re not careful. While it’s important to have some downtime during the summer months, it’s also vital to keep your children thinking and moving, so that when the school year starts back up, you’ll all be ready. Don’t let the dog days of summer drag on – enroll your child in a program that will invigorate her body and mind before a new school year begins in the fall.

    Here are the top six reasons to sign up your child for summer camp with Creative Learning Academy.

  • Camp helps teach your child the life skills necessary to succeed as adults. Many of the skills needed to be successful in the 21st century can’t be adequately taught in schools. Communication, collaboration, creativity, leadership, socialization, and problem-solving are all skills that can be greatly increased as children explore the world around them in a camp environment.
  • The right camp can strengthen your child mentally and physically. Learning is about more than grades and test scores. Children can try new activities at camp, and when they succeed at these activities, they grow in confidence and self-esteem. The kind of whole child education provided by time spent at camp provides challenges that help children grow, developing social and problem-solving skills in a supportive community.
  • Spending time at camp lets your child unplug from technology. The time that children spend in front of screens is a concern for parents and educators alike because it often takes the place of important activities and socialization. At summer camp, kids take a break from TV, smartphones, tablets, and computer screens, and learn to interact with the world around them.
  • Camp life introduces children to new friends and helps them grow socially. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends unstructured play as essential for promoting a child’s healthy social, emotional, and cognitive growth. At camp, children have plenty of time to play and interact, both in structured activities and unstructured free time. Campers learn to communicate with each other, navigate social situations on their own, and solve problems by themselves. What’s more, because the people they meet at camp are new to them, children have the opportunity to shed stereotypes they may have felt “stuck with” at school, and explore new sides of themselves.
  • Camp provides children with the opportunity to discover new interests. The activities offered at camp are different than those encountered by kids in their daily life, and your child may find an activity that peaks his or her interest. The skills learned at camp can be carried into everyday life, and may lead to a new hobby or extracurricular activity.
  • Children gain independence through the experience of camp. When children are on their own, away from parents and familiar surroundings, they are given an important opportunity to become more independent. They have to think on their own and rely on themselves, the other campers, and the adults at camp, and this builds their independent thinking ability and helps promote healthy self-esteem.

At Creative Learning Academy, our summer camp program in Succasunna, New Jersey, offers children a rich and varied experience. From swimming and sports to arts, crafts, music, and drama, to S.T.E.A.M. and computer activities, to field trips, our three, four and five-day program provide interesting and exciting activities for children from kindergarten through 7th grade. To learn more, call us at (973) 541-8241 or contact us through the website.

  • 7 Benefits of Early Childhood Education

    When should a child’s education begin? School officially starts with kindergarten at age 5, but some say your child’s formal education should begin long before this. Are you considering preschool? There are many benefits to providing your child with a well-rounded early education, particularly a full-day pre-primary program.

    Benefits Of early childhood education

    Here are the top seven benefits of enrolling your child in preschool.

    • Healthy Socialization: It’s important for children to socialize with people outside of their family, in a safe environment. This helps them gain self-confidence and promotes healthy social development.
    • Cooperation & Sharing: Learning to take turns and share with others is important, especially for children who may not have to share with siblings at home. In a learning environment, guided by caring professionals, children learn to play together constructively and cooperatively.
    • Respect for Others: Learning to respect other people and their belongings can help a child develop a healthy respect for the world around them, too. In a preschool environment, children learn civility and manners, not just through lessons, but through experience.
    • Teamwork: Knowing how to work in a group is beneficial not just in school, but throughout a person’s life. Participating in activities that teach respect for the opinions of others, listening, cooperation, and equality helps preschoolers learn the valuable teamwork skills that will help them get along with others and, eventually, gain employment.
    • Focus & Attention: When children are given the opportunity to explore the world around them in an environment that helps them learn to listen, follow directions, and participate in group activities, it helps them develop their concentration. During the preschool years, when their brains are developing, and they respond to the world around them with eager interest and a lively imagination, educators have a valuable opportunity to help them learn to focus and pay attention.
    • Self-Confidence: Interacting positively with teachers and other children can build a child’s optimism, self-esteem, and self-confidence. This, in turn, will encourage them to explore their interests, talents, and skills, and developing new skills will lead to further confidence
    • Exposure to Diversity: When children begin to interact with others at an early age, they learn that each person is special and unique in their own Exposure to other children from different cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and ethnicity can help a child learn to appreciate and accept those differences.

    At Creative Learning Academy, we strive to create a safe, fun, reliable space where children can interact, have fun, learn, and get ready for school. Our staff is composed of engaged, responsible, loving adults dedicated to promoting healthy child development. We offer child care programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and Pre-K students. To learn more about our programs, please contact us today.

  • Is There A Correlation Between Early Learning and Academic Achievement?

    Benefits of preschool on academic success
    As a parent, you want to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your little ones, especially when it comes to their education and setting them up to have a great future. Preschool is usually a good step in that direction, but if you’re wondering if it actually does benefit your childreb—and how—then you’ve come to the right place. The Creative Learning Academy has done some research into this matter, and we share some of the results with you here.

    Benefits of preschool on academic success

    Perhaps the biggest concern many parents have beyond their child’s health and happiness is their academic success. You want to do everything possible to help them through school with flying colors, but does preschool really help with that?

    One study we found involved the TOP project, or The Opportunity Project, which gave kids high-quality, early education opportunities , and measured their successes from infancy through fourth grade, comparing the results to a control sample of similar kids who hadn’t had the early education the TOP participants did. The study found that, by fourth grade, the TOP group scored significantly higher on math and reading tests, had much better attendance, and those with special needs were identified earlier and moved back into mainstream classes sooner.

    Another article addressed several similar studies, including the Carolina Abecedarian Project and the Chicago Child-Parent Centers study. In the Abecedarian study, children in the program received high-quality, full-time care from infancy to the age of five, and the study checked on their academic and social standings periodically up to age 21. It was found that those who had taken part in the program were less likely to repeat a grade, less likely to require special needs classes, more likely to graduate high school by the age of 19, and more likely to attend college than those in the control group who hadn’t received the program. The Chicago CPC study found similar results: Through age 21, the treatment group was more likely to graduate high school on time and less likely to have been involved in special education.

    Other benefits

    Academic benefits aren’t the only benefits preschool and early education can give your child. In the TOP study, they found that the participants in the study had fewer discipline referrals, used significantly more appropriate behavior, were much better at social interactions, and were significantly more emotionally mature than their classmates who hadn’t participated in the project. In the CPC study, it was found that those that participated in the program were also less likely to have been involved in juvenile crimes than those who hadn’t.

    Tangible difference

    The bottom line here is that there is definitely a direct correlation between early education and academic achievement, and while correlation does not always equal causation, the sheer number of studies available that have found the same results suggest that academic achievement is directly affected by early education. Not only that, but preschool and other high-quality forms of early education can cause other developmental benefits, like better social, behavioral, and emotional skills, including a lessened risk of crime involvement. Places like the Creative Learning Center truly benefit your children, and the earlier you get them started, the better their chances of success. Preschool isn’t just a nonchalant step to let you get some hours in at work while your child has supervised playtime; preschools help your child in numerous ways across all fields of development, and they have lasting effects on your child’s success.

    Start your child’s preschool journey by calling us today.