Early education has become a hot topic for parents, with a goal of getting children started on a good path. That’s why GiggleBugs Early Learning Center hopes to fill a gap for children ages 3 months to 12 years in Millsboro.
“This is my home county. This is my passion. I’ve known since a very young age that I’ve wanted to open my own center,” said owner Jennifer Spinks.
Jennifer and Rich Spinks bring years of experience to the table, having operated three similar centers in West Virginia.
“At our center in West Virginia, we had some start with us at 6 weeks and stay with us through the school-age program,” Spinks said.
After moving to Sussex County, they saw a need for local educational childcare.
“They’re full with waitlists,” Spinks said of other centers. “There are families that are unable to provide high-quality centers for their children.”
Families from Selbyville to Georgetown have shown an interest in enrolling, Spinks said.
Full-time care is available for children 3 months to 5 years. Afterschool programs include ages 5 to 12. The center is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
GiggleBugs was scheduled to open on June 1, with its own waiting list for the youngest age bracket. But some openings remained for ages 3, 4 and above.
The center is licensed for 112 children total, and all children must be enrolled. The center does not allow drop-ins.
GiggleBugs was specifically built as an educational center — not just a daycare — so the large classrooms are connected by wide hallways with water fountains. Using the Creative Curriculum, children aren’t just in daycare. They’re in an educational program with age-appropriate activities.
“The children think they’re having fun and playing all the time,” but everything is geared toward to specific developmental skills, Spinks said.
The mission is to “encourage development of the whole child,” including physical, cognitive, social/emotional and language development. “GiggleBugs promotes hands-on active exploration, small-group instruction and positive interaction with highly qualified teachers,” their website says.
Children will get regular progress reports.
Instructors are required to have Delaware First credentials issued by the state’s Department of Education, which reflects a certain amount of coursework and training.
With three playgrounds, children can play in an appropriate-sized area, from the babies’ soft rubber ground to the larger swings and slides.
Artist John Donato created his signature whimsical paintings at child-height in every hallway. With a dashed yellow line down the middle of the halls, children have a bright indoor roadway.
“On rainy days, they can use their little wheeled vehicles to get some play in our hallways,” Spinks said.
Summer camp programs are available fulltime for the warmer months. That includes meals, snacks, field trips and fun theme weeks, such as edible art, camping out, the Olympics and mad scientists.
The center also boasts secure key-coded entrances.
Parents can ask about the modified purchase-of-care slots.
IR agriculture students help GiggleBugs
High-schoolers were some of the first students at GiggleBugs early learning center, as Indian River High School’s agri-science department agreed to help GiggleBugs with landscaping.
From mulching to shrubbery, students took the landscape plan and implemented that design on the ground. “All you would do if you owned your own landscaping business,” explained teacher Jennifer Cordrey.
They learned how to do the work in the classroom, but now got to practice in the real world.
“My budget got a little tight, and it’s a real blessing to have them,” GiggleBugs owner Jennifer Spinks said of the IRHS students.