By Debbie Laure
There’s a bright, new, red and white sign reading “Little Bulldogs Learning Center” at 308 W. Prairie Street in Vicksburg.
In December, Christi Hill and Katie Richardson purchased the daycare and learning center formerly known as Child’s Play from Rebecca DeLaBarre and Sandy Idema who had opened it in May, 1995.
Hill, a Vicksburg native and mother of two, is pursuing her early education degree. She has been a nanny and worked two years with Lori Hardy in both the preschool and Sunday school programs at the United Methodist Church.
Hill has always wanted a big family and she thinks the children at Little Bulldogs have become just that.
Richardson, a mother of two who lives in Oshtemo, has always wanted to work with children and that desire has finally come true. She spent 20 years as a dental hygienist and office manager and is currently in the process of obtaining her CDA certification.
Other than the new owners, the center’s staff and programs have remained the same with Martha Sweet-Phelps as director.
For 17 years, Sweet-Phelps has loved the children, using her master’s in teaching to set curriculum, working closely with everyone involved to create the best programs possible with the “Creative Curriculum” as a basis. In this curriculum, the children move freely to stations which provide a sensory learning experience. All parts of the day are based on a theme right down to the fun snacks.
A typical day at the center starts 6:30 a.m. with children arriving until preschool starts at 8:30. Miss Elania, who is certified with an early education degree, begins with the literacy lesson. Then, there is a learn-through-play activity such as art, a yummy snack, fun with journals which is calendars and weather. Then, students move outside, weather permitting. Sometimes outside time is in the fenced play yard or an adventure in the local village.
At 11:30, preschool ends and then it’s lunch and rest time.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, the BenJamin team comes and there’s more fun with learning by music with lots of instruments to play. More activities are scheduled throughout the afternoon and then a wrap-up at 6:30 p.m. when the center closes.
Parents are encouraged to participate with the Little Bulldogs, but it is not expected as work schedules may not allow it.
Ages for the preschool are 33 months to 5 years and the daycare is 6 weeks to 12 years.
This summer there will be the usual preschool and day care but they are also offering Kids’ Club. This will be for kindergartners through 12 years of age, who will have fun theme days such as Bike Day, Science Day, Fishing Day and a favorite – Mud Day.
Hill and Richardson are excited about their new adventure, providing a safe and creative place for learning and fun. And parents will feel great that they are leaving their children in such a secure and loving environment.