The Children’s Workshop, a local family owned company that provides quality care and early learning programs for children, is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year. They are celebrating with the families that have been with them over the years and searching to answer the question, what does 25 years in early education mean? The company is reconnecting with families that have been with them for many years to paint a picture of what 25 years of early education really looks like.
This month, they turned to one family in Warren, RI, who has been with them for two generations, to help us answer that question.
When it comes to education, family comes first. A child’s first teacher is his parents. The Children’s Workshop looks to support not only the child sitting in circle time, but the family that is raising him at home. Jasmine Miller is a hardworking Mother who sends her fourteen month old son to The Children’s Workshop in Warren. It is the same school that Jasmine, her brother and her cousin attended when they were children. As Jasmine walks the hallways where she played as a child, she says, “It’s weird coming in here and seeing some of the same stuff I used to do like snack time and field trips. It’s pretty interesting to see this at this point in my life and to go back. I can’t wait until Elijah understands that his mommy went here and his uncle went here.”
Miller’s time at The Children’s Workshop when she was younger inspired her careers choices today. “I am at Looking Upwards, working with people with disabilities, mostly young adults, and I’m a 1-on-1 support staff. It’s a wonderful experience.” She enjoys bringing her son to school every day before work. “I think it’s just amazing for little kids, like you get to see how they interact. It was weird because that used to be us, and they are learning from people and teachers and they make us want to grow up to be teachers or encourage us to do what we want to do,” says Miller. She also mentioned that one of Elijah's teachers, Miss Arline is the Mother of Miller's teacher many years ago, Mr. Jim.
Miller’s fiancÃ©, Chris Rodgers, and their son, Elijah, quickly became a vital part of The Children’s Workshop culture at the school. Miller shares, “My fiancÃ© dresses up for all of the holiday programs here. He was the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus so far. He plans on being whatever else you guys need.” The Director of the Warren location, Abbie-Jo Francis, quickly chimed in, “Good, I hope you plan on staying until Elijah is in school age!”
Life in the infant room is a lot of fun for baby Elijah. The Children’s Workshop focuses on the importance of learning through playtime and they have a developed curriculum for each stage, including infancy. “It really makes a difference at school because he sees all of the other kids, and he is really smart. He learns a lot of lessons from here like blowing kisses and talking. I think it’s good to send kids to daycare or nursery school programs,” says Miller.
The infant classroom works around a rhythm of the day which uses a child’s natural tendencies for play and learning, eating and sleeping to ensure that they have a well rounded day of activities while they are in the class room. Elijah’s teacher, Miss Shelbie, says, “Elijah loves art, it is so cute. He really likes to play with the stamps.” Playing with stamps isn’t as simple as it sounds. Elijah is also developing fine motor skills, learning colors, practicing cooperative play and most importantly, having fun!
So how far has The Children’s Workshop come in the last 25 years? According to Miller, “It’s definitely improved! The curriculum and the food have improved a lot and they really focus on nutrition now. Back then we used to have McDonald’s or Burger King once a week for a treat but now it’s all healthy stuff. The technology has also really changed.”
The Children’s Workshop continues to develop their curriculum and the activities provided for the children. With twenty five years of practice it is no doubt that their lessons are kid tested and parent approved! Elijah’s school in Warren achieved a NAEYC Accreditation this year. They voluntarily applied for accreditation to improve early childhood education and provide the best learning experience for young children and their educators by meeting and exceeding the national standards for quality.