A new child care center that offers preschool should be ready to open within the next several weeks.
Kandy Rushing, owner and administrator, said Grow at Eden LLC will begin teaching and caring for children near the end of June or first of July.
Rushing began a renovation project several months ago at an empty building at 1503 22000 Road, about a quarter of a mile south of Labette Health at the intersection of 22000 Road and U.S. 59. Rushing is remodeling the building and adding about 2,000 square feet to double the space. The work has had some setbacks such as the extreme cold temperatures in February and the recent wet weather, along with the rising cost of lumber.
“We’ve had our share of challenges, but it’s been nothing we couldn’t overcome,” Rushing said.
Now that the work is nearing completion, Rushing and her staff are looking forward to soon hearing the building full of laughter and kids running around. Families who already have enrolled their children also are getting excited, Rushing said.
“It’s exciting. It’s been a lot of work, but I have learned so much in the process,” Rushing said.
Rushing said she has worked with wonderful crews on the project and received a lot of community support. The Labette County High School building trades program has done some projects and a couple of church groups plan to help with landscaping and building a fence next week.
Rushing’s husband has been a huge help in designing the building, and he and Rushing together came up with the concept for the center.
“We have coordinated all the pieces. It’s just a matter of getting to the finish line now,” Rushing said.
The center will be licensed for 60 children but will start with 52 at the most. In the beginning, Grow at Eden will take only children from 1 to preschool age, but Rushing said the center may take infants eventually. A lot of people have been asking about that. Children will be divided into two 1-year-old classes, two 2-year-old classes and one preschool. Learning time will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the center will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and probably will offer extended care until 10 p.m. on an as-needed basis. There will be a staff of about 10 people.
Rushing said the child care center will be unique to the area, and she thinks it is needed. When she moved to back to her old hometown of Parsons several years ago from Kansas City with her husband, Kyler, the couple noticed the need for more child care options in town.
“Child care was a huge need in our community, and we’ve been hearing about this need for six years,” Rushing said.
They decided to do something about it by opening their own day care center.
Rushing has a background in kinesiology and health and wellness as well as in retail management. She said her staff will be highly qualified with backgrounds in education or experience working with young children.
Grow at Eden will be a Montessori-inspired school. The Montessori system is based on the belief in the creative potential of children, their drive to learn and the right of each child to be treated as an individual.
Bailey Carrasco, program director, said the preschool basically will be child-led, with the teacher observing and helping the children learn on their own. A limited amount of age-appropriate toys and items will be placed for the children to allow them to focus without the distraction of a multitude of toys. The program will focus on five domains: cultural, mathematics, language, sensory and practical life skills.
For example, Carrasco said, children will be taught life skills such as washing their own hands, preparing snacks and cleaning up messes.
Much of the sensory domain will be covered with an outdoor playground. Instead of playground equipment, however, Rushing said it will have a large sand pit and plants and flowers that the kids will be able to touch and feel. There will be a garden as well, and children will help work in it, learning about fruits and vegetables. Eventually, the garden will add fresh ingredients to the meals.
Avery Adkins, nutritionist and cook, said in meal planning she wants to make the kids excited to eat healthy. Rushing said there will be a lot of variety in foods, and the children will be able to experience meals they probably wouldn’t at home. Examples include squash quesadillas with avocados for lunch and almond butter yogurt with grated apple for breakfast.
“It’s pretty simple, but I’m excited for it,” Adkins said.
Rushing and Carrasco have discussed possibly adding classes for parents to be taught on weekends or after hours. Topics may include how to cook healthy food at home and childhood development.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Rushing said she plans to make Grow at Eden a safe, loving and nurturing place where children can be instilled with positive values.