Creative Nursery and Preschool (CNAP) was established in 2009 as a response to my own personal search for high-quality, safe, educational and licensed child care in the South St. Louis area. After searching for months and not finding anything that fulfilled my requirements, I decided to start my own program. CNAP began as an in-home program, then in 2010 became a licensed in-home program with two part-time assistants. In 2012, we moved into our current location at 6500 Arsenal as a licensed child care center with a maximum enrollment of 34 children.
My goal at Creative Nursery and Preschool is to provide a nurturing environment and learning-through-play approach that supports social-emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development. In addition, literacy and mathematics objectives are incorporated into the program through a combination of hands-on activities and exploration of materials as well as direct instruction. All toys, materials and activities are developmentally appropriate according to the age and abilities of each child.
We utilize the Creative Curriculum in our program, which is a research-based, child-centered curriculum that encourages learning through play and spans the areas of literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts and technology. There are 11 interest areas in the curriculum including blocks, dramatic play, toys and games, art, library, discovery, sand and water, music and movement, cooking, computers and outdoors. We also utilize Teaching Strategies Gold, which is the online assessment tool that complements the Creative Curriculum. Assessments are completed three times a year and reports are distributed to parents following the assessment cycle, with opportunities for conferences with your child’s teacher(s).
The high-quality nutrition at CNAP sets us apart from other programs in the area. Meals include lean proteins and vegetarian options, whole grains, whole fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and hormone-free milk. Meals are prepared on-site each day. We are able to accommodate and provide substitutes for children who have food allergies, sensitivities, or other dietary restrictions.
Another core value of our program is a strong focus on social-emotional development. Each year, CNAP staff members participate in United 4 Children’s Social-Emotional Early Childhood Project (SEEC). Through SEEC, teachers participate in trainings specifically on social-emotional development throughout the year. In addition to the trainings, consultants from United 4 Children visit our classrooms several times a year to observe and provide feedback on environment, teaching strategies, and effective approaches to dealing with challenging behaviors. At CNAP, we do not rely on time-outs or punitive forms of punishment, but instead, maintain a commitment to teaching appropriate behaviors, reinforcing positive behaviors and teaching children strategies, alternatives and problem-solving skills that will help them be more successful in their interactions with each other.
Parents of infants, toddlers and 2-year olds receive a written report at the end of each day detailing daily activities as well as diaper changes or potty visits, meals and naps. In the Preschool, the teacher writes a journal entry about each day’s events, which parents are encouraged to read at the end of the day. Photos will periodically be made available via Facebook so parents have an idea of what their child experiences throughout the day. Parents are free to drop-in at any time. We fully support breastfeeding mothers and will also work with parents who are using cloth diapers.
CNAP is a licensed child care program and is inspected annually by a State Fire Marshall and a State Sanitarian, is inspected several times a year by a State licensing representative and is inspected annually by the City of St. Louis. All staff are required to attend 12 clock hours of trainings annually. Many staff members attend the annual River’s Bend Association for the Education of Young Children conference, which is the local chapter of NAEYC. At least one staff member certified in CPR and First Aid must be on site at all times, but the majority of our staff are certified in CPR and First Aid.
I am pursuing a Master’s of Elementary Education/Emphasis in Early Childhood Education program at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. I received my B.A. from Baruch College – City University of New York in Music in 1999. Lead teachers in the infant, toddler and 2s room are required to have a minimum of an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. The Lead Preschool Teacher is required to have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary and/or Early Childhood Education. Many teachers have degrees beyond the minimum requirements. Afternoon closers are typically students pursuing degrees in Early Childhood Education or other closely related fields and/or who have had significant prior experience in child care programs.