Bright colors splash inside Millville’s newest children’s learning center, despite the deceptively stoic brick exterior. Village Square Academy Learning Center just opened on Whites Neck Road, enrolling infants to 12 years.
Village Square Academy provides daylong childcare, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., or just before and after school.
“It’s not a daycare at all. It’s a learning center. It’s gonna be structured, educational,” said owner Tecola Gibbs-Hernandez. “The best start is an early start. The earlier, the better prepared they are when they get to the schools,” she said.
That means kids can get used to a structured environment, learn rules of the school and adapt to different cultures. Plus, kids are learning social skills.
“They learn through each other,” verbalizing what they want, using good manners and, of course, making friends, she said.
Gibbs-Hernandez said she wanted to create a place “where parents will have the peace of mind that their children are in a safe and learning environment, where they can grow and be enriched with excellent quantity and quality care. My goal is to provide children with a rich environment where they feel safe to explore, initiate learning and feel free to express themselves.”
The center has one main room, but it’s split into smaller, contained sections for each age group. The walls are just tall enough to create a classroom, but let teachers peek over the sides.
Village Square uses the Creative Curriculum, with hands-on lessons, including books, movies, playtime, song and dance.
“Kids learn through play, so you gotta make it fun,” said Gibbs-Hernandez.
Although the children are separated by age, they aren’t necessarily separated by ability, so they still learn together in activities where teachers can monitor their comprehension.
“As an early childhood professional, I believe all children can learn and be successful,” said Gibbs-Hernandez, who has 35 years of experience in education. “No child left behind. I take that philosophy very seriously.”
This is her first businesses, but she said she hopes to open other locations, starting with Lewes. Village Square is rated under the Delaware Stars quality rating and improvement system. As a learning center, it will hire certified teachers, she said.
Snacks are served every morning and afternoon, and children attending Indian River School District schools can catch the bus from Village Square.
Family Fun Nights will be held monthly, with activities for kids and parents. There will also be summer camps and babysitting nights, to give parents a night off. Gibbs-Hernandez said she also hopes to offer yoga, CPR or Spanish classes for parents.
Children are the most important part, “but we want parents to get something out of this, as well,” said Gibbs-Hernandez.
Prospective clients can see Village Square for themselves at an open house on Saturday, Feb. 21, from noon to 4 p.m., with food, activities and tours of the facility.
Village Square Academy Learning Center is located at 30792 Whites Neck Road, in Millville. For more information, call (302) 539-5000.