When a child steps into the preschool classroom at Kids Village, the room seems to burst with magic. From the twinkling lights in the artificial trees to the village-like buildings, it is not uncommon for children to feel as though they have been transported inside one of their bedtime storybooks. And that is exactly the feeling founder Ann Whittaker was going for.
The idea for the whimsical atmosphere first started as Ann and her husband traveled through France. They had just seen the Palace of Versailles and had made their way beyond the outside garden to Queen Marie Antoinette’s Hameau de la Reine (or Queen’s Hamlet). There, they saw a beautiful feigned village where the servants lived, raised animals and grew fruit trees and vegetable gardens. It was also there where Queen Marie Antoinette would visit to escape the pressures of the palace.
When Ann saw the magical space for the first time, she says she instantly fell in love with it and the idea that the village encapsulated.
“The village symbolizes the world in which we live where each individual has unique gifts and talents that come together for a cohesive community,” she says. “At Kids Village, the variety of workshops and classrooms give each child an opportunity to explore and discover their natural talents while expanding lifelong skills. This shows them that no matter their talents, they have a place in the world and can contribute to society.”
Kids Village actively provides opportunities to expound on different talents and abilities through various workshops and classes, including a music workshop, cooking workshop, history workshop, reading workshop, art workshop, science workshop, PE workshop and technology workshop.
“These little children get to experience all of these workshops and learn what they love most!” Ann says. “We know that, no matter how small, each child has a greatness within them that will one day be a force for good within our community and in the lives of others.”
On top of incorporating various workshops into their preschool curriculum, Kids Village also implements a hands-on learning approach that uses all five senses to teach children basic principles.
“Instead of just filling our students’ minds with information, we want them to experience it,” Ann says. “For example, if we are teaching our students about the important message behind the Little Red Hen, we can easily read the book and talk about it. But, we take it much further. Not only do we read the book, but our students can go into the science workshop and learn how wheat grows. Then, they can go into our kitchen workshop to grind the wheat into flour and experience the process of using flour to bake bread. They are able to use all five senses and actually understand what they are learning.”
This hands-on approach has seen success through the past many years as families have grown up along with Kids Village. Ann says it is likely for many of her students to be grade levels ahead of their peers.
She adds, “But most importantly, our kids think it’s fun! And in the process, they have gained a great love of learning.”