When parents and children walk into Think Play Grow Academy in Waco, they are greeted like family members who have come for a visit. Each room is decorated with soft, muted colors and includes many of the comforts of home.
Director Jill Parsons said this on purpose. She doesn’t want the childcare facility to feel like any other daycare or preschool.
“The kids are most comfortable at their own homes, so we try to have our classrooms as homey as we can allow them to be while still following state regulations,” Parsons said.
The academy, that opened just two years ago, has already seen marked growth. But the director said that she is committed to keeping classroom sizes small.
“When you keep the ratio of teacher to child low, you can have more one-on-one time,” she said.
Having smaller classrooms also allows Parsons and other staff members to really get to know the children and their parents.
“I’ve worked in childcare for 34 years, and I’ve worked at centers where I didn’t know 20 percent of the children and their parents,” she said. “Here I know every child’s name, and we inform our parents about everything that goes on during the day.”
Even a scraped knee warrants a text message at Think Play Grow. And along with electronic communication, parents are also encouraged to stop in and see their children during the day.
“We even have some parents who come in at lunch and breastfeed,” Parsons said. “I want them to feel very comfortable and very at home.”
Along with providing a comforting environment for both parent and child, the director also makes sure it is a safe and educational place to be.
“All of our teachers are certified in CPR and first aid, and have to complete 24 hours of pre-service training before they can work in a classroom,” she said.
The academy is also associated with the Texas School Ready program that gives each child a chance to learn and grow academically before they enter kindergarten.
“We’re very family-oriented,’ Parsons said. “I want every child to feel like they are at home here.”
For more information about Think Play Grow Academy, visit thinkplaygrow.com or call (254) 732-4881 to schedule a tour of the center.
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Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of two energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys running around with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects and home decor.