On the right pathway at the Early Learning Center | AspenTimes.com
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On the right pathway at the Early Learning Center

Aspen Times Staff Report

Kids First is using its weekly column to feature a local child-care center each week. There are 14 licensed child-care providers in Pitkin County. They all offer different programs with different philosophies.

When choosing a daycare program, it is best to visit and ask questions. Kids First can provide a checklist of questions and things to look for in a caregiver. There is also a resource library in the Kids First office with information on early childhood development and parenting.

The Early Learning Center is a lively place for children. It is never long before you hear music – children singing, a Friday afternoon rock ‘n’ roll dance, a classical piece, a toddler marching band, an opera, a song to encourage clean-up.

The preschoolers are baking bread, the toddlers are exploring new glitter paint, the infants are discovering new everything – the joy of early childhood life and a typical day at the ELC in the Yellow Brick School in Aspen. The Yellow Brick was purchased by the city of Aspen in an effort to keep child-care providers in the city and make them a key component of our community.

The providers at the Yellow Brick take advantage of being in Aspen and interacting with the community. In June there will be a new park for the children with various playground surfaces and equipment. Everyone is looking forward to having that beautiful space.

“Our center is devoted to the whole child – social, emotional, cognitive, and physical. Our curriculum thrives on literature, language, art, music, environmental awareness, and creative expression,” says Patric McLaughlin, director of the ELC.

She and her staff place great emphasis on having respect for children and filling their lives with beauty. The rooms have plants, candles, music, soft-colored fabric around windows, and are set up to invite play at various centers.

The preschool room is a feast for the eyes with kid-crafted mobiles hanging from the ceiling and the latest project sitting on a center table at the head of the classroom – a gigantic dinosaur to be featured at the Aspen Art Museum in a children’s art exhibit in April. The preschoolers are having circle time and are engrossed in their conversation about weather, sharing their personal stories.

Across the hall in the toddler room, the kids are playing in the castle that they made for their castle program, which involves reading fairy tales and dressing up in medieval costumes. In the infant room, classical music is playing softly as the teacher is making a bottle and holding the babies.

The most important learning is from birth to five years. “The experiences during this time in life will determine the type of learner, citizen, and kind of individual that a child will become,” says McLaughlin. “What you must do is subject them to many positive experiences to develop the pathways for future learning.”

One thing’s for sure, pathways are being made and they are on the right road at the ELC.

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