February 2018

Kids College: Creating a Love of Learning

Author: Kitty Bartell

Parents play a huge role in how excited their child feels when coming to a new school,” said Shanel van Jaarsveld, owner and director of Kids College, her Advocates for Better Care (ABC) certified, USDA certified, early learning center in Bluffton. When looking for childcare, van Jaarsveld recommends that families tour several facilities. “It is a fit that needs to happen between the family and the childcare provider. We ask parents to bring their children when they come for a tour, because we want to be able to get down on their level and make them feel comfortable. At the end of the day, the children need to be happy.”

A native of South Africa, van Jaarsveld opened Kids College in 2008 during a time when she was searching for childcare for her own daughter. “It started out as filling a need, both for myself and for the community,” she said. “I wanted to provide a safe environment for moms to leave their children. It has become a great passion—a real calling. People don’t realize the importance of early childhood in laying the groundwork for a love of learning.

“It’s our people that make the difference, and our dedication,” van Jaarsveld said of her team of 16. “We focus on building a family environment with a commitment to the education and development of children.” Ages six weeks through five years are accepted for their fulltime program, with children through fifth grade attending their after-school program and summer camps. All Kids College teachers go through SLED and FBI background checks, most are CPR/First Aid certified, and have at least a certificate in early childhood education. With 80 to 100 fulltime students, van Jaarsveld caps enrollment far below their facility’s capacity. “Each age has its own state-required student to teacher ratio. Where other centers would have nine children for one teacher, we have eight, to ensure a high quality of care.”

Some of the best surprises for van Jaarsveld involve the families. “The family functions are the times I look forward to most,” she said. “We have our Valentine’s Day Fashion Parade, our Mommy’s Morning Out; we have our Father’s Day, and our Fall Festival. Nearly every month, there’s a function going on where parents can be here and be involved with their children.”

Van Jaarsveld knows that when the Kids College team and their families work together, children develop a love of learning that may last a lifetime. “The best scenario is when we see parents encouraging their children that it’s going to be a fun, exciting place, and that the teachers can’t wait to see them. It’s hard enough to leave your baby. I wanted to create a place where people were comfortable leaving their children. That’s really how the dream began.”

Celebrating their tenth anniversary, Kids College opened its doors amidst a difficult economic recession, and now a decade later is growing and fulfilling van Jaarsveld’s vision, creating a place where children love to learn and play and grow.

Kids College is located at 17 Goethe Road, Bluffton. For more information please call (843) 757-9153 or visit kidscollegellc.com.

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