With Winter Garden constantly being named one of the top places to live, it makes the city a popular option for families moving to the area to settle in.
Along with this demographic and population growth is the need for more preschools, day cares and early childhood development and education centers.
West Orange-area families now have two new options for their children, with the recent opening of The Goddard School and Kiddie Academy under construction in Hamlin.
For those who live in or close to Hamlin, Kiddie Academy will be opening its doors to children from ages 6 weeks through 12 years old by June 2020.
Located at 15806 Shaddock Drive, the new children’s academy is now under construction following a Nov. 6 groundbreaking ceremony. Winter Garden residents Bill and Linda Collins are the owners of Kiddie Academy’s newest location, and their daughter, Ashley Collins, will serve as the director.
“Kiddie Academy is an early childhood development (program) based on learning skills they’ll use in everyday life structure,” Ashley Collins said. “It really focuses on not just their learning, it’s about the ‘why’ and what’s the purpose of what they learn. It’s really imperative that they know why they’re learning these skills and what they will be used for.”
Having grown up in Winter Garden as one of five children, Ashley Collins knows that the growing community is more family-friendly than ever before. It’s part of the reason why her parents wanted to become business owners and help shape young minds.
“The housing-to-children ratio is incredible, and they really wanted to get their hands into helping the future minds of tomorrow develop in this amazing community,” Ashley Collins said. “Winter Garden is so home based, and although it’s growing and booming, it really centers on such a family community.”
She added that this project has been in the works for about three years now, and it likely will not be the only Kiddie Academy location her parents open. The capacity for this location is set at 225 children.
Kiddie Academy uses its Life Essentials philosophy, which focuses on elements fundamental to a child’s growth – character education, STEM-infused technology, and health and fitness experiences. With seven different learning programs categorized by age group, Kiddie Academy focuses on empowering at each age level.
“Our academy is based off life essential skills and really focuses on their development,” Ashley Collins said. “You can give children workbooks and tell them to memorize and do this, but we have found children want to know why they’re doing something, and to be able to teach this and have them understand why they’re doing, it can really build success for them later on.”
Although the school will not open until summertime, Ashley Collins said early enrollment is now open. Updates on enrollment and the school’s construction will be posted on its Facebook page.
“Seeing the structure itself is amazing, but for me personally, watching my parents’ dream become a reality and watching them (become) business owners and get involved with children and their future (is exciting),” Ashley Collins said.
THE GODDARD SCHOOL
Located off Avalon Road near its intersection with Tilden Road, The Goddard School officially opened Monday, Nov. 4, and is now enrolling.
Another national brand, The Goddard School was founded in 1988 by Anthony A. Martino in order to deliver a high-quality, play-based learning program to families. Today, The Goddard School has more than 65,000 students in more than 500 locations across 37 states.
The school uses what it callesthe F.L.EX. Learning Program to provide a well-rounded learning experience to children while in a safe, nurturing environment. The idea is for children to learn through play, with customized lesson plans developed based on children’s interests and developmental needs.
The F.L.EX. Learning Program is designed with core values in mind such as play and exploration, student empowerment, 21st-century skills, STEAM and literacy, individualization, outdoor time, research and diverse programming.
Pam King, onsite owner of the newest location in Winter Garden, previously owned a franchise of The Goddard School in Alpharetta, Georgia, and has owned and operated several of them over the last two decades.
After her family moved to Winter Garden six years ago, she and her husband, Shawn, saw there was a need in Winter Garden for a high-quality early childhood education program that provides a play-based learning experience.
“When many of our friends and coworkers in the area described their preschool experiences, we realized the impact we could make in our new community,” Pam King said. “Overall, we look forward to raising the level of preschools available in the area. As we implement the Goddard philosophies and practices, we will bring the same value we have been providing to families for more than 20 years.”