care center provides a professional and nurturing home-away-from-home environment for children where they are not only safe and comfortable but where they developmentally grow and flourish,” explained Beatrice.
Educators at Lightbridge encourage children with a “learning is fun” philosophy through play and positive reinforcement and build upon the skills they acquire at various ages and stages of their development. Each classroom is designed with learning centers to offer children the ability to engage in teacher-led activities, child-led interests and individual play. The center’s curriculum focuses on every developmental area, including creative arts and music, mathematics, technology, physical well-being, science, social and emotional, literacy and sensory and cognitive learning. Children can also learn various languages like Spanish and even American Sign Language. The Minnebos hope to add French and Mandarin Chinese in the future.
The Garnet Valley facility itself is modern and state-of-the-art, featuring developmentally appropriate classrooms, each with its own bathroom, as well as fresh air circulators, bringing filtered outdoor air into the center for a healthier environment. The rooms are bright and cheery, freshly painted in primary colors and tastefully decorated. The outdoor play area is safe and secure, with modern play equipment and clean, padded safety surfaces. There are two playgrounds, divided by age, which are both shaded, fenced and secure with no outside entry.
Inside, there’s a large multipurpose room with high ceilings and little furniture so children can ride trikes, play ball or enjoy hula hoops, dance, soccer and other activities if the weather is not conducive to outdoor play.
The owners pride themselves on the facility’s cleanliness. A professional cleaning crew sanitizes Lightbridge Academy every morning.
Another of the major highlighted features of Lightbridge Academy that sets it apart from other area childcare centers is its advanced technology. Parents have the ability to watch, and even interact, with their children all day long. Although they may be at their desk or on a business trip thousands of miles away, parents can watch what their child’s doing throughout his or her day on their mobile phone, iPad or computer. In today’s economy, dual-income families seem more the norm than the exception. Parents are often stressed and struggling to find good care for their children. Having this unprecedented access to their child’s daily activities through technology helps parents not only have a secure feeling knowing their children are well cared for, learning and enjoying their day, but it also allows parents a window into their child’s daily activities, which facilitates communication when they are reunited later in the day.
“When the parents are back with their children, they can say things like, ‘You were amazing in how you built that house out of blocks today,’ or ‘You really enjoyed those stories about autumn this morning,’” explained Beatrice.
The Academy’s ParentView Internet Monitoring System not only gives parents a live stream of their child in the classroom but also provides a parent eCommunication app that allows teachers to communicate with parents throughout the day by sharing pictures and videos and logging children’s milestones into an online portfolio. Those are just a few of the tools they use to form a stronger home/school connection and build trust with the enrolled families in their centers.
“We are completely transparent,” Beatrice explained. “I’m a parent, and I know how important it is to be able to see and be involved in what your child is doing during the time they are not physically with you. We want parents to feel connected and a big part of their children’s lives at all times.”
Technology is evident in every classroom, equipped with interactive white boards and child-sized tech desks that are especially designed for iPad placement.
The Lightbridge Academy owners value the center’s transparency and the ongoing comfort and connection their technology brings to parents, but they also like the opportunity it gives staff to grow. The center utilizes the latest in technology for the administration to watch the action in all parts of the center. By viewing how staff is interacting with each child throughout the day in every classroom, the owners and directors are able to mentor and support each staff person to provide the best possible teaching strategies and help them grow professionally. This continual video view of classrooms also ensures policies and procedures are being properly implemented.
Lightbridge offers many options to make life easier and a better experience for parents, such as the option of back-up care, nutritious snacks and optional meal plans for their child, extended hours, in-house
CARE» PAGE 13
Lightbridge Academy owners John and Beatrice Minnebo stand beside their van, which sports a “KIDS” license plate, in the parking lot of the new educational childcare center that they opened at 1363 Naamans Creek Road in Bethel.
Owners Beatrice Minnebo and John Minnebo stand with assistant director Melissa Dreding, second from left, and director Christy McIntire, second from right, in front of the “Circle of Care” logo on the wall at Lightbridge Academy in Garnet Valley. The educational childcare center is focused around the interconnected relationships in the Circle of Care: parents, staff, community and owners, all of whom help the children to grow in a truly caring environment.