Toddler Class at Carmel Child Development & Learning Center

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I've been contemplating for a while on enrolling Joaquin again in some Gymboree classes to expose him to other kids & give him a chance to socialize with peers his own age. However, after taking into consideration the cost of having him attend a couple of classes a few times a week for only month, we checked out how that would fare against enrolling him in toddler class in an actual school and it would be relatively cheaper to send him to preschool.



So I contacted Carmel Child Development & Learning Center, a preschool that constantly came up with positive feedback in forums when I was searching online for schools. This happened to be near the area of where we currently live, so it seemed like a good idea to check it out. The school administrator I talked to, Teacher Les, was very accommodating & offered concise answers that clarified my initial concerns. I explained that the primary reason I had for wanting Joaquin to join a class was to give him an opportunity to interact with other children on a regular basis, as it's only the two of us at home for most part of the day until his dad comes home from work in the afternoon; plus I thought it might help him enhance his speech & motivate him to be more verbal. I was told that they have an open enrolment for their toddler class, & that we didn't have to wait for next school year so we could have him join as soon as he turned 2 this September. According to Teacher Les, they could focus on Joaquin's language & social skills as an individual progress plan, & were consequently invited to sit in for a free trial class to see how things would go.

First Impressions

The school is located inside a private subdivision. If you don't have your own vehicle, it could be quite far to walk to & from the gate, but if you do bring your own car they don't have their own parking lot so you might have to find free spaces along the street. Upon entering the premises, you'll find a covered playground & a waiting area for the parents or guardians. We were asked to wait indoors, right by the admin office as Teacher Les wasn't there yet to accommodate us. I took Joaquin to walk around the school which had 4 classrooms until we found a little nook with a play kitchen, pretend marketplace with toy fruits & veggies, & what served as a reading corner & library. When we were called  to sit inside the admin office, the first thing we noticed was the surveillance connected to cameras inside the classrooms which was an immediate plus point. I also liked that you could easily see into the classrooms from outside & were air conditioned, and that the toddler classroom (not sure about the others) had its own kiddie-friendly restroom.



The indoor play area
The reading nook in the common area


Trial Class

We went inside the classroom a bit earlier to give Joaquin a chance to acclimate with the new place. There were tables & chairs set out in groups of 4-6. There was a small blackboard on one side of the room, a shelf for the kids' bags on the adjacent side, and a toddler bed in the corner where any of the students could rest or have their milk (for those with baon bottles of formula). The class starts at 8:45am and runs until 10:15am. At first, Joaquin didn't have any hesitation finding a chair & tinkered away with the blocks laid out on the tables. As the kids started trickling in though, he got a bit anxious and constantly tugged on me to sit with him. After around 15 mins of free play, they had circle time where they danced around & sang to common nursery songs (ex. If You're Happy & You Know It). Then they had a quick lesson on the alphabet letter for the day, and proceeded to arts & crafts. I sat with Joaquin but resisted the urge to help him out, though I did tell the teacher that he had never been exposed to using glue or paste, hence was clueless when he was handed the paper & the cut out letter F to stick to it.

When he wasn't hesitant yet :)

I tried to take note of the kids' behavior to watch out if anyone was unruly, a bully, or seemed too scared of the teachers. Most of the kids in the class were very friendly & polite, saying "hi" to Joaquin & even to me & my husband. At one point, Joaquin even got a bit intimidated as a little girl was coaxing him to sit with them & started playfully pinching his cheeks, haha! There were 9 toddlers aged 2.3 to 3 years old, with 2 teachers & 1 teacher aide handling them. There was a particular boy, apparently the youngest in class, who was crying his lungs out the entire time and would only stop if he was held or carried by one of the teachers. The administrator later on shared that he has been like this since he joined their summer program back in April, but they didn't want to give up on helping him through his separation anxiety at the request of the mother as well. I took note of the teachers' methods in trying to calm him down & what efforts they made in getting him to join the activities. Around 1 hour into the class though, Joaquin had gotten really affected by the crying kid that he was also now anxious himself & was beginning to cry as well. We decided to take him out of the class now to avoid distracting the other kids more, plus I didn't want him to get the impression that the classroom is a scary place where all children do is cry.

Considerations

We didn't get to finish the whole class, so we just proceeded to talking with the administrator & asking a couple  more questions. I expressed my concern that Joaquin might be too young to be bombarded with memorizing the alphabet & memorizing numbers, but was told they are not expected to memorize anything & are simply exposed to letters & numbers for the sake if familiarization, which supposedly helps in easing them into the concepts when they enter actual preschool. I wasn't too sure as well about having him attend the class 5 days a week (1.5 hours each) because it might be too much at his age, regardless of the fact that it came out cheaper than sending him to Gymboree for 2x a week only (for a bit more expensive cost, at that), but was assured that kids his age normally adjust pretty well to their relatively light sched. I also inquired about an afternoon class, but was told that they only have one class for toddlers at present, which is held everyday in the morning. I would obviously have to work on gradually adjusting Joaquin's sleeping schedule in case we do enroll him for the 2nd semester this November. The school also has a list of accredited school buses/vans, but I have yet to personally inquire with the owners so transpo to & from there shouldn't be a problem. I also took note of how they don't let the children out of the building (even into the outdoor playground & waiting area) unless the fetcher is present at the time of their dismissal.

All fetchers have their own ID provided by the school upon enrollment. This is included in the miscellaneous fee, along with the student's ID, insurance, a textbook, a notebook (for daily notices from the school or the teachers), worksheets, and the school bag. For details on fees, requirements, & other information, you may contact CCDLC at 453-88-68 or email them at carmelchild99@yahoo.com.

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