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Kids love to “Learn & Play”

Fri, Feb 22nd, 2013
Posted in Chatfield Features

Gavin P., Ivar S., and Ethen B. enjoying time together at Learn & Play Daycare in Chatfield, Minn. Photo by Barb Jeffers

Two things children love are to learn and to play. Two things parents want are for their children to be safe and well-cared for. At Learn & Play Daycare in Chatfield, Minn. parents and children get what they need.

Learn & Play Daycare was opened in 2006 and is owned by Everett Wright and Molly Bernard. Everett thought it was a good idea to open a daycare as there is always a demand and he also thought it would be a good business venture. But once inside the daycare it does not feel like a business it feels like a family. Yes, a very large family, but a family none the less. Doug Wright, Director of Learn & Play Daycare, says that “it’s not just daycare” and explains that the entire staff gets to know not only the children but also their families. Most of the teachers at Learn & Play are from the area, and so are the families, so they see each other at places other than the daycare. A relationship builds not only with the daycare children but their family and extended family as well.

Teacher Jenny Dahley has worked at Learn & Play Daycare for six years and enjoys her time with the children. Ms. Jenny states that she likes how “families keep coming” to the daycare as they grow with the addition of more children. Ms. Jenny spends her time with the children keeping busy with activities such as art, books, singing, and group time. Ms. Jenny said that she used to babysit years ago and has now seen those “children” bring their own children to the daycare which she really enjoys.

Jeanette Kappers, who is a fill-in teacher, has worked at Learn & Play Daycare for four years and works in all daycare rooms as needed. Ms. Jeanette says that “it’s just a fun job” at Learn & Play Daycare. Ms. Jeanette lives on a farm and says that the children “enjoy hearing about the farm” stating that “right now we have baby chicks with baby lambs coming soon” which the children will no doubt have many questions about. Ms. Jeanette enjoys being able to work in every classroom and being able to spend time with all of the children.

Sherri Briggman has been a teacher at Learn & Play since they opened the doors in 2006. Ms. Sherri says what she loves the most about her work is “the fact that preschool children are so eager to learn, they have such enthusiasm for the activities we do” and adds that “it’s important to me to plan and implement a learning environment that encourages their growth.” Ms. Sherri states that “another key part of my work is to create a trusting relationship with the families” stating that “we are fortunate to have some wonderful families at Learn and Play” some of which “have been with us since we opened.” The most difficult part of her job according to Ms. Sherri, is “when my children move or leave to go on to school and are no longer part of my day to day life.”

Doug Wright states that his favorite part of his work is “the interaction with the kids” and feels the daycare is “bettering the kids futures” adding that he also enjoys the “friendships that are made” between staff and families. The children’s safety is a priority for Doug, which is why there is a key pad on the front door and a person must know the key code to open the door, or ring a doorbell to have an employee come to the door to greet them. Doug’s office is also right inside the door and he watches who is coming and going throughout the day. There are locks on all doors in case of any type of emergency were to occur and the staff has been educated as to what steps should be taken in different types of emergencies.

Learn & Play Daycare provides a vast assortment of fun and educational activities for the children, varying by age groups and each classroom has its own schedule. Some of the activities the children participate in are crafts, calendar, and finger plays, with older preschoolers also doing pre-math, science, and reading activities. Doug Wright explained that Learn & Play coordinates as much as they can with the preschool program at the school to give the children the educational tools they need. An additional fun activity that occurs at Learn & Play is “Tippi Toes” dance class which is on Mondays.

Doug Wright provides transportation to the preschool at the Elementary school as well, which is a convenience to many families. Doug also enjoys this because he sometimes sees children at the preschool that he used to have at daycare. He said some of them “still give me hugs” which means a lot to him. Ms. Sherri echoed the same sentiment when she said “it’s always special if I happen to run into the children out in public” and stated “I usually get a smile out of them and if I’m really lucky, a hug, too.”

The children love to have books read to them, especially by Marlene Hisey, who volunteers her time to come to Learn & Play to read books to the kids. According to the teachers at Learn & Play when Ms. Hisey is reading the children’s attention is on her alone.

It is obvious how much the staff cares for the children who attend Learn & Play Daycare and the old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” has never been more true than it is today. The City of Chatfield and the “village” of Learn & Play Daycare have got it covered.

There are currently 54 children enrolled at Learn & Play Daycare according to Doug Wright, and he states that the capacity at any one time is 72. Learn and Play employs six lead teachers, three aides, and one full-time cook. The business hours for Learn & Play Daycare are Monday - Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The address of Learn & Play Daycare is 236 Mill Creek Road, Chatfield, Minn. Rates vary depending on number of hours and children’s ages. For more information call (507) 867-0070. Additional information can be found on Learn & Play Daycare’s website page at www.learnplaydaycare.net.

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