New day care to open in LeRaysville
LERAYSVILLE - What would make the day happy for a toddler?
Maybe a morning filled with Teddy bears and little green tables, an afternoon of learning your A-B-C's and playing with blue and yellow and purple letter magnets. Or running in a big, green yard. Snacks, too?
And friends - yes, lots of new friends!
Mindy Knapp hopes these things add up to happy days for all "her" kids.
Next month, Mindy's opening the Happy Days for Kids day care in LeRaysville. She'll hold an open house from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.
"I'm excited!" she says of the day care's beginning. "Excited and nervous ... and happy!" She adds with a laugh.
Happy Days is at 796 Main St., the former home of the late Prudence Morgan. Mindy's father, Jerry Johnson, recently bought the property from the Morgan family, and Mindy now owns it. The large home reminds you of a warm, cozy childhood place from years past, with its flowered wallpaper, old woodwork, lacy curtains, and staircase with wooden banister and landings.
"It was perfect!" Mindy says.
"It's so homey! .... Such a great learning environment."
Downstairs, the day care includes toddler and infant rooms, kitchen and pick up/drop off area. The pick up/drop off section has a large set of cubby-style shelves and colorful little coat hooks - shaped like doggy tails. Staff will use a computerized pick up/drop off system.
Go upstairs and you find a pre-K room, staff room, office and what may become another infant area. Already, the rooms are well stocked with colorful toys - little tables and colored chairs, bears, a doll in a high chair, a toy race car on a toy truck, a teeny CAT excavator, a wee little shopping cart, books and much, much more. Mindy bought some toys; others are donated.
Two brand-new, white outdoor stairways connect the second floor to the ground, serving as fire escapes. Mindy's also had the backyard enclosed with a crisp white fence.
"We've been working really hard," she says of preparations. But the house didn't need too many alterations.
"It's really a great house," she notes.
The day care's licensed to hold 44 children, but Mindy doesn't expect to go over 41.
A mom of two herself - Daphnie, 7, and Joey, 4 - Mindy's also studying for a degree in early childhood education. "I want to be able to help the people who work here," she says.
She has two employees: Barb Clink of LeRaysville, who's cared for children a long time in her own home, and Twyla Bullock of North Orwell, who will serve as director. Both are also moms. (Twyla's husband has helped with what renovations were needed on the house.)
Years ago Twyla befriended a new family in the area and took the children books to read. That led into jobs in the child-care field, and soon she'll receive a child and society bachelor's degree.
"I'm excited to be a part of it!" Twyla said of Happy Days.
It's not just baby sitting. The day care will focus heavily on education - colors, letters, numbers, social skills. The staff will use lesson plans aligned with Pennsylvania standards and do assessments.
"We're trying to prepare them for school ... give them a family environment," Mindy says.
Right now Twyla's doing observations for her major at Northeast Elementary, which lets her see how pre-schoolers need to be prepared for the school.
Mindy's planning on a 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday schedule, but this could change with time. "I'm learning as I go. This is the first time!" Mindy says. She also may offer before- and after-school care and will aim to have flexible hours. Her husband, Travis, works swing shift, so she understands those types of schedules.
"We're going to accommodate that as much as we can," she says.
Happy Days can provide children breakfast, lunch and possibly even supper plus two snacks. "We're going to focus a lot on healthy food," she notes. Keck's Food Service will provide supplies.
Day care subsidies are available if needed, Mindy notes.
The day care will open Jan. 2. Then ... Mindy, Twyla and Barb will start working to make lots of happy days for kids.