I recently did an author visit at the Children’s Center at Taco Bell’s corporate building. The children’s center is run by Bright Horizons, a leading provider of early education and preschools. I was greeted by a warm group of teachers and a vibrant director, Kim Thorstenson-Root. I was instantly impressed by the the magical and inviting environment of the center. The charming decorations, learning centers, picture books and student artwork were just perfect. Imagine being greeted by a giraffe every morning as you come to school? Imagine knowing that your mommy or daddy are in the same building in case you need a hug.
As I waited to be introduced to the little ones who ranged from ages 3-5 years, I observed how engaged they were on the rug as the teacher read them a story. I counted four teachers and about 20 little ones. Every student had a nice size cubby with their name and picture on it. The space was large and open, immaculately clean and well organized. It reminded me of a the children’s bookstore, Shop Around the Corner from the movie, You’ve Got Mail! Everything was so cute and aesthetically pleasing.
When I got introduced to the little ones, I was welcomed with a loud, “Buenos días Ms. Gladys.” As I shared my picture books with them it was obvious to me that they are in the habit of being read to since they had lots of questions and insightful comments. After we read, they formed a line and patiently waited for me to pass out the pink fire hats and white paper so they could draw their own fire truck. I noted that these little ones understood class structures and routines. I walked around and asked them to tell me about their drawings. They had plenty to share and were not shy. It was amazing.
After my visit with the little ones I got a chance to talk to Kim. I mentioned to Kim that the children’s center reminded me of the bookstore, Shop Around The Corner. Turns out she used to own a children’s bookstore! She enthusiastically showed me children’s work samples proudly displayed on the walls. Handwriting Without Tears is one of the programs used at the children’s center. Again, I was impressed by the developmental growth that was demonstrated in their writing portfolios. As a teacher who loves teaching beginning reading and writing, it was amazing to see these little ones “write” and “read” their ideas put on paper. Bright Horizons also sends families a Growing Readers Review, a parenting resource with a list of featured picture books in different genres and reading levels. Every featured picture book is also purchased and housed at every children’s center, providing them a rich and growing library.
I am completely enamored with this children’s center. Kim’s passion for her job, the little ones and the community are palpable. Who wouldn’t love to work here with the amount of support, materials and engaging curriculum that nurtures all learning and social modalities? The little ones were wiggling, singing, dancing, reading, writing and learning. Makes me wonder why a safe haven of this caliber isn’t readily available for all children.
Please note I was not compensated by Bright Horizons, nor am I affiliated with this company. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.