A Solid Foundation
Monday, April 2, 2018
Written by Julie M. Bethlenfalvy
The Children’s Home of Cincinnati’s preschool lobby looks homey. There’s a comfortable couch, cozy chairs and a coffee table, and Preschool Director Jill Smith says they want to make the new space even more homelike for the students and parents.
“We want the parent and child to feel comfortable,” says Smith, who helped create the preschool program about 17 years ago. “In the mornings, we have the overhead lights off as the kids arrive to create a calmer environment.”
Decorative table lamps are lit and calming music plays as the 3 to 5-year-old preschoolers start their day at the new Children’s Home space at 4550 Red Bank Expressway in Madisonville, which is less than two miles from The Children Home’s main campus.
The preschool and autism services moved into the new space in August 2017. Formerly the Gorilla Glue Co. headquarters and distribution center, The Children’s Home renovated 17,000 square feet to meet the needs of both the preschool and autism programs, which previously were in cramped spaces on main campus. Now, the new location has more than enough room for growth with 50,000 square feet still available for future expansion.
With the expansion, The Children’s Home opened up its preschool to private paying families this fall. The preschool increased from one classroom to two, nearly doubling the size of its space, with room for 20 students in each room. Each classroom has activity centers for hands-on activities to learn science, art, music and movement, math and literacy development.
For outdoor activities, The Children’s Home has a nature playscape instead of a traditional playground. There are slides built into a hill, a sandbox and a path encircling the space on which the kids love riding their tricycles.
“It allows the kids to have a more creative output on the playground,” says Smith. “It’s been neat to watch them figure out how to use the environment and where their imagination takes them.”
If there’s inclement weather or if the day calls for it, the kids can play and learn in the muscle sensory room, where they can ride their tricycles, play blocks or do yoga.
The year-round preschool is a Five-Star Step Up to Quality program and is an approved Cincinnati Preschool Promise school, which provides funds for children to enroll in quality preschools. Already known for its excellence in helping children with behavioral and emotional issues, The Children’s Home preschool focuses on the whole child and not just their academic growth, says Smith.
“If you speak to a kindergarten teacher, they’ll want a child to have a strong social-emotional well-being,” says Melinda O’Connor, a lead teacher for The Children’s Home.
Along with class and individual student assessments, teachers also receive bi-monthly coaching through the Promoting Resilient Children (PRC) program, a collaboration of mental health and early care and education specialists who help early childhood centers to promote the social and emotional well-being of children to prepare them for kindergarten.
“Preschool can get them on a set foundation. If children love school in the beginning, then they’re going to love school for the rest of their life,” says O’Connor.
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