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The Learning Experience

by Glori Gayster
The Learning Experience: Progressive Learning

The Learning Experience never loses sight of children’s best interest.

Like a flower bud slowly opening its petals, children grow and learn at their own pace.

The Learning Experience, a school with more than 100 locations across the country, strives to provide the individualized attention that allow kids to learn at their own pace, providing the tools and environment to help children from 6 weeks old through pre-school age reach their greatest potential.

Custom care
“We believe children need to develop mentally, physically, emotionally and socially,” says Michael Durkin, principal with The Learning Experience in Voorhees. “It is our commitment to offer a safe and structured environment that builds a strong foundation, yet engages children with fun activities so they can enjoy the experience of learning.”

Now entering its fourth year, the Voorhees facility is divided into personalized environments, with the curriculum and room structure determined by the kids’ age, emotional and academic levels, Durkin explains. Curriculum, safety and security are paramount. Toys, changing tables and classrooms, are sterilized daily and security measures, including a computerized attendance system and classroom video monitors are in place. The curriculum has been written by the National Academy for Educators and Caregivers to encompass all components of development.

For newborns aged 6 weeks and older, the infant care program provides a nurturing environment staffed with affectionate and attentive staff, Durkin says. The infant rooms are no shoe zones and children are given their own cribs.

The toddler program encourages children to explore and play, using age-appropriate indoor and outdoor activities to develop their sense of mobility. These classrooms stimulate students’ social skills through sing-alongs and storytelling, while incorporating basic art and language lessons. This is the age for potty training and classrooms are equipped with small toilets and sinks for helpful instruction.

The Prepper classroom is where children master potty training. Teachers in this classroom prepare students to enter preschool, using an advanced curriculum and introduction to technology.

The preschool program is separated into classes according to age and developmental stage. Children learn through hands-on activities that encourage exploration and problem solving at their own pace. They also begin Fun with Phonics, an early reading program designed specifically for The Learning Experience. Children enjoy writing journals, doing their L.E.A.P. workbooks and learning to speak Spanish.

Progressive learning
“Parents want to be informed on their child’s activities. All of our L.E.A.P. workbooks have a weekly observation check list so teachers and parents can evaluate their work,” explains director Sabrina Robb. “Similarly, we create portfolios for each child to track accomplishments and milestones. A child’s portfolio is filled with photos, handwriting and memories.”

The Learning Experience also steps beyond the basics of learning, with unique enrichment programs, brining in teachers who specialize in science, math and the arts each week. These enrichment programs are available to all children at no additional cost.

Fun and safe
At The Learning Experience, learning is always fun. Make Believe Boulevard is a miniature Main Street, USA—an unrivaled indoor playground to stimulate children’s creative juices and build their self esteem. Children use their imagination to become mechanics, restaurant owners, firefighters and more. Like their imaginations, the options are limitless. When weather permits, children also get to run and play in one of two age-appropriate outdoor play¬grounds.

Fully staffed from 6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., the center offers early-morning and after-school programs in a safe and secure environment, Robb says.

To ensure the highest level of safety, the building features a comprehensive security system to monitor teacher-to-student ratio, locate individual students and verify which person is authorized to pick up each child. “We foster a completely open-door policy,” Robb says. “Parents are welcome to visit any day at any time and oversee their child’s activities. They are able to watch their children interact with one another and our staff.”

The staff of certified teachers, aides and administrators each completes eight hours of age-specific training per year to stay current on their skills. In addition, the staff is required to have CPR and first aid training within six months of employment. “We are extremely selective when it comes to our team and constantly review their performance by observing classrooms at minimum twice per month,” Robb says.

With the school year about to begin, enrollment is ongoing, but limited to maintain the school’s student-teacher ratios, which range from four-to-one up to 12-to-one, depending on age group. An open house will be held on Aug. 27, and tours may be scheduled at any time. Classes begin Sept. 6, and The Learning Experience offers full and half-day schedules, three to five days per week, to meet parents’ needs.

“No matter the age of one’s child,” Durkin says, “I want parents to walk in and say, ‘This is where I want my child to be.’”

The Learning Experience
401 S. Burnt Mill Road, Voorhees
(856) 346-4140

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 8 (October, 2011).
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