At Stepping Stones, we believe that learning should be fun, exciting and challenging. A relaxed, child-centered environment invites children to creatively explore their surroundings. This, with the gentle guidance of experienced teachers, helps children grow to their fullest potential.
To help children develop into well-rounded individuals, Stepping Stones provides opportunities to facilitate the social, emotional, physical, intellectual and creative growth of each child. A child must feel loved and valued as a person. Through our expressions of acceptance, love and praise, we are confident each child will develop a positive self-image that will allow him or her to succeed and acquire the joy of learning.
We care for 123 children at the center. Because of the ages of the children, each classroom has unique characteristics and curriculum developed to meet individual needs.
Infants: ages 2 weeks to 15 months
Toddlers: ages 15 months to 2 ½ years
Preschool 1: ages 2 ½ to 4 years
Preschool 2: ages 4 to 5 years
Part-time Preschool: ages 3 to 5 years
After School: ages 5 to 11 years
Summer Camp: ages 5 to 11 years
Stepping Stones is one of very few center settings in Lawrence that provide care for infants. We have experienced, specially trained teachers who provide a warm, loving and stimulating environment so babies can grow and flourish and parents can rest assured that their child is safe, secure and nurtured.
The Infant classroom is divided into two units with nine infants on Side 1 and eight infants on Side 2. Side 1 is for younger babies who do not crawl or are beginning to crawl. Side 2 is for babies who are experienced crawlers and walkers. A ratio of 1 staff member per 3 children is maintained on Side 1 and a minimum of 1 staff member per 4 children is maintained on Side 2. Feeding and nap schedules are individualized based on the baby, and open communication between parents and the teachers is emphasized to ensure that each child’s needs are met.
Whenever the infants are not eating, sleeping or being changed, they will be in the play area. This is an exciting place to be. Babies learn new skills so quickly. Different small motor, large motor, social, language, and individual developmental activities are conducted each half hour throughout the day. A wide variety of toys are available and our staff are constantly devising new and stimulating play experiences for your child, including age-appropriate art and sensory experiences.
Throughout the day, the infants receive many hugs, kisses, cuddles and smiles. We understand their need for love and affection and take pride in our role in helping shape their desire to discover, learn and grow.
The Toddler classroom at Stepping Stones is divided into two units of ten children. Placement in the toddler room depends on your child’s readiness and space availability in the classroom. Toddlers must be walking well, only taking one nap a day, no longer drinking from a bottle and feeding themselves. This is generally around the age of 13-17 months. A ratio of 1 staff member per 5 children is maintained at all times.
Toddlers are engaged throughout the day in stimulating small motor, large motor, dramatic play, social, language and self-help activities. These activities are conducted in small group, large group and free play situations presenting a well-rounded, play-centered curriculum that is enriching as well as fun. Interesting art and science activities—all customized for short attention spans—are also part of the daily routine.
At this age, many children are seeking a little independence. Although most activities are conducted with the teacher’s gentle guidance, there is enough room for independence so that a child can experience a sense of accomplishment. Self-help skills are also worked on throughout all daily activities to encourage children to do simple tasks by themselves. Learning to use the potty is one of the many important things toddlers do. We have regular potty training procedures and our teachers work with the children in a gentle and positive way and collaborate with parents to make the process successful.
Preschool I is a time of transition to a more structured environment as the children advance from the toddler stage. Our emphasis, however, remains on developmentally appropriate play-based early childhood education that is engaging, creative and inspires a love of learning.
There are 20 children in our Preschool 1 room. A child should be potty trained and about 2 1/2 years old when they start Preschool 1. A minimum ratio of 1 staff member per 10 children is maintained at all times. We also have additional staff from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. daily to allow more individualized care for the children.
Our preschool programs are developed around a theme for each week. These themes include topics such as seasons, holidays, numbers, animals, health and safety, etc. Throughout each day of the week, activities will be planned using emotional, physical, social and cognitive skills. The use of a theme will aid the children in tying the activities of the week together.
Although we have pre-academic activities throughout the day, academic achievement is not pushed in our classrooms. We want learning to occur naturally as the children explore and experience the environment around them. There will be many spontaneous learning situations that will arouse the children’s many interests. During the day, many skills that are prerequisites to academics are worked on including communication, attending, social, problem-solving, self-help and motor skills.
Preschool 2 builds on the foundations established in Preschool 1. As the children are older and approaching kindergarten age, additional emphasis on pre-academics is woven into the curriculum. Our primary focus, however, remains on developmentally appropriate play-based early childhood education that is engaging, creative and inspires a love of learning.
The Preschool 2 room has a maximum of 24 children who start when they are about 4 years old. A minimum ratio of 1 staff member per 12 children is maintained at all times. We also have additional staff from 9:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m. and 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. daily to allow more individualized care for the children.
Our preschool programs are developed around a theme for each week. These themes include topics such as seasons, holidays, numbers, animals, health and safety, etc. Throughout each day of the week, activities will be planned using emotional, physical, social and cognitive skills. The use of a theme will aid the children in tying the activities of the week together. Preschool 2 differs from Preschool 1 in that the curriculum is customized for older children who have longer attention spans and who are developing the ability to make more complex choices.
We work on pre-academic activities throughout the day, especially at center time when pre-reading/language, math, pre-writing/fine-motor, visual perception, science and art activities are planned. Academics are presented in a developmentally appropriate manner in our classrooms. We want learning to occur naturally as the children explore and experience the environment around them. There will be teacher-directed activities and spontaneous learning situations that will arouse the children's many interests. During the day, many other skills that are prerequisites to academics are also worked on.
The children will be able to learn and work at their own individual pace. They will be given activities that are at their level of development. We want each child to be academically and behaviorally prepared for kindergarten. We want them to be challenged and to experience success. When they leave Stepping Stones, they will have a positive self-image, secure foundation for learning and a motivation to increase their knowledge.
This program is a great opportunity for children to work on their social skills and get experience learning in a group setting. The curriculum and the skills they work on are similar to those listed above in the full-time preschool programs.
This program operates on the public school calendar, so it is not in session in the summer, as well as the times the public schools are not in session throughout the school year.
Our philosophy for the after school programs is that the children have been at school all day and now need a chance to unwind, relax and have FUN! They have a snack, play organized games, go outside, do arts and crafts, play board games, build with manipulatives, read stories and listen to music. Although the teacher plans specific activities and games, each is offered in a somewhat unstructured environment and the children are able to choose what they do. Homework can also be worked on with the help of our staff during free play time before children go home.
The children will be divided into two after school classrooms. During the school year, the younger classroom has a maximum of 14 children who attend kindergarten and first grade in public and private schools. A 1:14 ratio is maintained at all times. The older after school classroom is for 2nd through 5th graders. A maximum 1:16 ratio is maintained in this classroom. Transportation is provided from several public schools as well as Corpus Christi Catholic School. Each year we will reassess the needs of our current families to see which schools our bus routes can include. We will re-enroll children in the after school and summer camp programs each year. Priority is given to those children currently enrolled who have been at Stepping Stones the longest.
Full day care is offered for children in our after school programs on days when the public schools are closed. A sign-up sheet will be posted in advance for this extra care so that we know how many children will be present and are sure to have enough staff. You will be charged an additional fee per day for this time. The older and younger after school classrooms may be combined on these days if there are fewer than 14 children present. Two snacks are provided by the center on these days and the children must bring their own sack lunches (we will provide beverages). Fun-filled field trips will take place throughout spring break as well as a few other days when school is not in session.
During the summer, our after school classrooms become EXCITING full day summer camp programs. These are very popular programs that our “big kids” look forward to each year. A wide variety of fun and educational activities are planned around a summer-long theme (ex: Around the World in 54 Days, Super Science, the Eco System, Careers etc.). The children learn about these topics through hands-on learning and creative group projects. Some of the activities planned will include arts and crafts, outside games, experiments, games, research, building with manipulatives, reading, music, as well as daily field trip to parks, the zoo, museums, the swimming pool, putt-putt golf, the movie theater, the library, etc. We also help each child complete the public library’s summer reading program. The center provides a morning and afternoon snack. A nutritious sack lunch is brought from home daily due to field trips away from the center and to allow for our flexible camp schedules. Additional fees are charged for swimming lessons, which we go to at the beginning of each summer and sometimes a big, end-of-the-summer field trip. Everything else is included in the monthly fee.
Each classroom has a maximum of 16 children. Kindergarten and first grade students are in the summer camp 1 classroom upstairs and first through fifth graders are in the summer camp 2 classroom downstairs. Both rooms have two teachers whose schedules overlap from 10-3 when filed trips are taken. The classrooms go on similar field trips and will plan a couple of events to do together each week. This is an exciting program with one adventure after another all summer long!