My name is Laura Brennan, and I have two daughters who attend the Chesterton facility full time. Please feel free to copy Sarah so she can pass on anything she feels appropriate to anyone else.
Last summer, we moved our girls to Growing Kids from another daycare in Chesterton after very serious considerations– I did not want to upset the girls by moving them, as we were pleased where we were. My husband and I agree that it was absolutely the right decision, and we have not regretted it for a minute. The girls transitioned fairly quickly, and now even though we would all rather be at home with each other–they love going to their ‘big’ school. Although my heart breaks every morning dropping them off, knowing how loved and cared for they are there makes that much easier to handle.
Everyone at the Chesterton school has been phenomenal- Sarah Scott and the other office staff (we’re just getting to know Teddy, but she’s been great too!), the kitchen staff, and all of the teachers have been so welcoming and respectful– I don’t even know where to start, and apologize for what is probably going to be a long read!
First of all, all of the little things that the school does are so very appreciated, and really show that Growing Kids cares and wants to make families feel welcome–and isn’t afraid to put a little time, effort and money into it. To mention a few–soccer camp, bringing in the ‘Kola ice?’ truck, bringing in art teachers, having Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and so many other parties–where the kids and parents never go home empty handed. The creativity and thoughtfulness that the teachers and staff put into these parties is exceptional. Last winter the children put on an amazing Holiday show at Chesterton High School-I hope that will happen again this year, I’ve been looking forward to it since the last one! One day, the center had a huge ‘Welcome Home’ banner–and there were American flags and crafts all over the place–I cried when Sarah told me that one of the parents was coming home from the service and surprised their child that day.
Sarah has been so easy to communicate with, and shows true concern and care for her families. The few times I had minor issues, or need to change a schedule due to my lack of work, she handled everything professionally, quickly, and very sincerely. I feel very welcome to talk with her if I ever have a concern.
Our 4 year old daughters last teacher–Ms. Maria– is by far our most beloved teacher –and we have had plenty of amazing ones in 4 years of daycare! Katie just transitioned out of her room, and it makes her day to run into her in the hallway. Maria’s classroom is full of energetic 3-4 year olds, quite often with a few friends who take a little extra care and attention. She handles every child with such care, compassion, love, and light-heartedness–and ensures that all the children in her class are sharing that same respect and kindness with each other. Such an important lesson to be learned at such an early age. Her patience and kindness towards everyone reflects so positively in her children, and in the way my four year old treats her little sister at home. Ms. Maria has also taught her children Spanish–these four year olds can count to 50 in Spanish, learn new words daily, and love it! I hope that Growing Kids continues to hire staff who can provide a second language–it is such a great opportunity for the kids! Ms. Maria’s room was always so creatively decorated with the kids arts and crafts on display- she excelled in making the room feel like their home. (Is it too early to request that Kira is put into Ms. Maria’s room when she is old enough?!)
Katie’s other teacher- Ms. Shelly has been exceptionally kind as well, and we are happy to get to know her better as she’s moved up with Katie to Ms. Jenn’s room–who also in the short time we’ve known her seems to be great!
We’ve been out of school for a three day weekend just now, and our two year old was excited to go back to school today. Her teachers- Ms. Krystal and Ms. Irisha (and for a while Ms. Sarah) have all been amazing, and have treated Kira with such love and respect as a tiny little human. They have taught her so much- letters, numbers, yoga, crafts, activities–and she loves it! She has been a challenging child, and outside of myself and a grandparent or two, she hasn’t come to trust many other adults (not even my husband/her dad unfortunately–he would tell you that himself!)–but she is so welcomed in her room by these amazing teachers that she easily and gladly runs to their arms every morning. While we have never had Ms. Kim who is in her room every morning as a regular teacher, she has been a huge positive influence on both girls, and we appreciate her care so much. It takes a special sort of person to still be wearing a smile (and clean clothes) after being in a room full of potty-training two year olds, and they always are. Kira’s previous teachers, Ms. Lindsay and Ms. Sam were amazing as well- very welcoming, caring, and so patient with these little people!
One of the things that stood out when we were considering moving to Growing Kids was that the existing teachers felt appreciated by the managers. I don’t know what is being done to make this happen, but from my perspective this appears to be the case- I have never heard any complaints about ‘management’, which is wildly different from where we were before. Being treated well by your company makes a huge difference, and I’m glad to support one who seems to be doing just that.
We have been very happy with the facility itself- it is always clean and maintained, and decorated very cheerfully and welcoming. The girls like the food so much I have a hard time getting them to eat the food at home! I like the variety of foods, and that there is always something outside of the standard ‘kid food’s’ offered. I can only imaging the challenges of feeding so many people so many times of the day…but I often wonder if there is a way of becoming less dependent on Styrofoam and plastic. If there would be potential to consider bringing in plates/cups/utensils-even enough for the day, and bringing them home to clean, I would be happy to try something out (but don’t want to add to an already complicated system).
I’ve enjoyed checking in on the kids days via Life Cubby, and appreciate all the notes the teachers put into them–I know it takes extra time that they have very little of. I am pleased that there are different spaces the children can move to throughout the day– the playground, Main Street, the garden, Minds in Motion, and even just having hallways wide enough to get the small kids out of their room on a walk for a few minutes. I was a little disappointing to hear that Minds in Motion was changed to a classroom- hopefully that time and those activities can continue in a different space. As someone who likes to move around a lot, and has a hard time sitting in one space for too long, I greatly value allowing the kids the opportunity to get outside of their main 4 walls throughout the day.
I am glad the kids get outside once or twice a day- especially when it takes so much extra effort to dress everyone up in snow gear! It makes a huge difference on their day, even if the elements only allow them to be out for a few minutes. They have been loving water day as well. They have had a lot of fun getting to know their outdoor space- the playground, the wetland, the grass, trees, observing the world outside the center, and all the great music activities and little bikes they can ride; we love the variety and the space they get to enjoy!
So, even though this is a little late for a Happy first birthday to the Chesterton school, we would like to thank all of the hard working staff there for a wildly successful first year (from our perspective at least)! We appreciate all that you do, and trust you with the most important people in our entire world.