After much discussion and some changes within our business, I decided to bypass daycare and work from home while my husband joined the company and worked from the office. I count myself lucky that I had both the choice and the opportunity to stay home with my kids and still earn an income for awhile.
When my next son was 3, I had enough mom experience to know that he would be okay in a good pre-school program and that in fact, he would be better prepared for Kindergarten if he had pre-schoool under his belt. Again, I was very lucky to find a great woman who did pre-school from her home and Little Man thrived under her care for 2 hours a day.
Now I am faced, like many mothers, with the prospect of re-entering the work-force. Only this time my boys are both in school and child care isn't an issue for me. But it is a huge issue for many of my friends and neighbors with younger children. Let's be honest...we've all heard horror stories about bad experiences and it can be scary and difficult to find a safe environment where we feel comfortable leaving our kids.
So with that in mind, I happily accepted an invitation to attend a Mom Mixer at the Primrose School in Peoria to get a better idea of what kind of child-care situations exist in the Greater Phoenix area. Maria Bailey, creator of MomSelect and BSM Media, coordinated the event and was on hand to help answer questions and introduce the great folks at Primrose.
If you've read my blog at all, you know that if I have an opinion, I share it. Well, after spending a few hours at Primrose, I definitely have an opinion. My first impressions as I drove up to the school were very positive based on 3 things:
1)It was very close to a grocery store...convenient for moms who are running behind to quickly run in and grab last minute dinner items. I know...that has nothing to do with how good the school is, but after talking to the owners of 3 different locations and mentioning the stores, they all told me they purposely chose a location near conveniences, which tells me that they make decisions about their business with both their adult and young clients in mind.
2) The parking lot and playground areas were very clean and well maintained and the school was pretty secure. I wasn't all icked out (my high school journalism teacher would lose her mind if she read that phrase!) when I pulled up to the school, wondering what kind of disrepair I would find inside. It was apparent to me that the owners of the schools are committed to the ENTIRE school and pay attention to details.
3) When I opened the front door, the halls were filled with bright, creative and colorful bulletin boards. It was very upbeat. It felt fun. It made me want to find out more about their program. My 7 year old went with me. His curiosity was immediately piqued by the fun designs and he was very interested in what other kinds of things he might do there at the school.
As we toured the school, we talked about the Primrose School curriculum. Their Balanced Learning® program emphasizes learning, play, self-esteem and character development by combining child-initiated and teacher-directed activities. Primrose is the first educational child care company to achieve accredidation with CITA and both the SACS and NCA CASI's based on that curriculum, along with being able to meet their stringent standards for safety and teacher training.
I found many aspects of the curriculum interesting, including the fact that they incorporate the use of computers into their teaching as early as age 3 (on a very limited basis) and that they really promote and get the children involved in worthy community service projects. The whole program seems very well thought out and well-rounded.
There were other little details that Primrose addressed, like the fact that the schools provide the bedding for each infant in the infant room and launder it daily. Each infant also has his/her own little drawer, where moms can leave changes of clothing so that they aren't constantly having to pack a huge bag.
The little folks all get a cute little back pack of their own when they start school at Primrose, which I think is a great way to help them feel like "big" kids as they pack their backpack for the day and wear it to school. The pack is used to send items home daily.
The playgrounds are separated by age, so that the bigger kids aren't mowing over the little kids during a more rambunctious moment of play.
Aside from all of the great educational and child-care benefits at Primrose, I was really amazed to hear that Primrose offers franchises, which is a unique concept in child-care. I met 3 different Primrose franchise owners from Mesa, Peoria and Goodyear. I spoke with each one of them regarding their decision to enter the world of child care and found each one of them to be very dedicated not only to the success of their own schools, but with the success and happiness of each child under their care. I think the thing that stuck out in my mind the most is that they are there, at their schools, every single day to eversee and direct their staff. They know every child at the school. Why? Because it is their business, not just their job. They all have children of their own and understand what moms go through in our search for a safe and stimulating environment for our children. Kathy, Heather and Karen are committed to creating a wonderful environment in each of their respective schools, where both children and families can grow and learn.
I'm glad Primrose took the opportunity to get to know us and introduce us to their great schools as well as their unique business model. Now more than ever, quality child care is important and Primrose is leading the pack in providing it, along with opportunities for entreprenurial minded people who are passionate about providing a nurturing atmosphere where youngsters can thrive.
Wanna see for yourself? Call the Primrose School near you and set up a tour. Many offer summer programs as well, even for children as old as 10 or 12. The summer programs sound really fun and include field trips. Check out the website for more details and to find a Primrose School near you!