The name KinderCare is known nationally for its excellent child care and early education programs. As it recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, KinderCare has now added a location at 4900 Getwell Road in Southaven, a center that started on June 24.
“This area really needed this educational-quality program,” said Trina Byars, the Southaven Center Director. “We think our kids will really be able to succeed in kindergarten.”
Southaven becomes the fifth center in the Memphis metropolitan area, which includes a site in Germantown, Tennessee, where Byars worked before coming to DeSoto County.
“I’ve been with KinderCare for about 12 years,” Byars explained. “I had been in child care before that, starting in a child care classroom as a teacher. I was with KinderCare as a teacher and then worked my way up the ladder.”
Byars has a total of 23 years in child care and brings that experience to her new position. It’s the early educational focus she feels sets KinderCare apart from other child care centers.
“It’s not just day care,” Byars said. “It’s actually education and teaching this early on, even in the infant classroom, that they work with. We do assessments with them and teacher conferences with them. We just try to really partner with the parents to make sure their child is on the right track.”
Byars pointed out that programs like KinderCare have provided a jump start for youngsters when they start school.
“They’ve done different studies in different parts of the country and they’ve discovered that children that attended our programs the longest, once they got to kindergarten were testing more toward a first-grade level, because they had the background of our curriculum,” Byars said.
While statistics indicate that 10 percent of daycare centers are certified, nearly 100 percent of KinderCare learning centers have passed certification. Teachers are helped by KinderCare to be certified and ready to instruct.
“KinderCare supplies what’s called Child Development Associates, which they pay for 100 percent,” Byars noted. “The teachers take classes online, and at the end they get an increase in their pay for getting their qualifications and their certifications. KinderCare also with a national accreditation that helps with the curriculum and Spanish is written into the curriculum.”
As far as the programs are concerned, it’s all about fun while learning. Each program is geared to the particular age group of the child.
“The curriculum is written as play-based learning,” Byars said. “Everything is open and accessible all day. They’ll have their morning breakfast and group time where they talk about what’s going to happen during the day. There’ll be a free time and a small group time where they’ll talk with a couple of kids at a time in a small group activity. They go outside, get ready for lunch, then have a rest period. The teachers are there engaged with them.”
Parents’ participation in the program is also encouraged.
“They can come in and read to the class, for instance, or take part in an activity in the classroom,” said Byars. “You can have lunch with your child if you want to. We have grandparents that come in and do that sometimes or come in and read stories.”
Information about enrollment, which is available all year long, is found online at kindercare.com and Byars also encourages that parents call 833-905-3276 and ask about setting up a time for a tour.
“We’re at about 50 kids right now,” Byars said. “We’re licensed for about 140. We’ll have quite a few coming in August, once school starts back. We had quite a few that wanted to enroll when they came in during our Open House.”
The Southaven KinderCare center is open from 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.