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Best Preschools & Daycares

Best Preschools & Daycares
…From the pages of Suburban Family Magazine…

Dropping off your little ones in the morning might take coaxing, tears and a great deal of organization—but it also takes trust. Leaving your child in the hands of another caregiver each day can be tough, but luckily South Jersey has numerous certified learning hubs, each with qualified teachers and unique curricula and amenities.

Choosing the right preschool or daycare is a rigorous process, as families now expect a complete early-education program with added perks, quality facilities and room to grow. We compiled a list of the preschools and daycare centers in South Jersey and sent surveys detailing their educational approach, facilities and more. Our research covered curriculum, facilities, parent-teacher communication and student-to-teacher ratio, as well as those intangible details. Read on to find the perfect fit for your child.

This listing is only a sampling of preschools and daycares in the area, based on our 30-point survey and from reader recommendations, and doesn't necessarily reflect every school in the area. Parents should visit facilities and meet with directors before deciding which school to choose.

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Beechwood School
441 Beechwood Ave., Haddonfield, (856) 429-0303, TheBeechwoodSchool.com
Hours: 7:15 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Programs: morning, afternoon or full day, two to five days per week. Fees: $990 per month for full time/five days; $445-630 for part time/five days. Ages: 2 1/2-6. Waitlist: Yes

The 30-year-old family-owned Beechwood School believes that children develop at their own pace, naturally and sequentially, if given the right time and encouragement. The self-contained school sits on more than an acre of land with two outdoor playgrounds. Children must be potty-trained to attend and are taught in self-contained classrooms with a play-based, adaptive curriculum, according to the different developmental levels of the students, including individual and group activities. Each preschool class has a 6-9 month range of ages and is supervised by a degree-holding teacher and an assistant.

Teachers record each student’s social, intellectual and physical progress, then pass that info along to parents through at least two parent-teacher conferences a year. Communication is key here, so parents are always kept informed, including monthly newsletters and “ouch notes” if a student is hurt or scraped during playtime. Enrollment is kept intimate, with only about 100 students in all, so parents should apply now for a summer or September start.

Bright Beginnings Academy
315 Fries Mill Road, Sewell, (856) 582-1144, BBANJ.net
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Programs: morning, afternoon or full day, two to five days per week. Fees: $810 per month for full time/five days; $710 per month for part time/five days. Ages: 2 to second grade. Waitlist: Not for admission, but for certain classrooms

At Bright Beginnings Academy, learning and flexibility share the focus—and after several decades in business, director Camille Banks is confident that it’s a formula that works. “We strive for education, and children come first. We are an academically-based preschool and offer an accelerated program with hands-on learning,” she says. The center, which just opened a sister location in Cherry Hill, offers morning programs from 9 a.m. to noon, afternoon sessions from 1-4 p.m., and early and late extensions to suit any schedule. All teachers have education degrees and certifications, as do some teaching assistants. A playground, interactive playrooms, an indoor gym and traditional classrooms keep the 240-strong student body plenty busy, but there are also extra programs that children can select: Soccer Shots, Music, Jump Bunch (a physical fitness program), or Computer Lab. Admission is based on an academic year, but the school stays open in the summer for an optional 10-week summer camp. Parents can look forward to weekly activity logs, unannounced visits or volunteering opportunities.

Childtime Learning Center
137 Jackson Road, Medford, (609) 953-5497, Childtime.com
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Programs: half day and full day, one to five days per week. Fees: $229-$269 for infants, $213-$250 for toddlers, $181-$212 for preschool five days a week. Ages: 6 weeks through kindergarten. Waitlist: No

The staff at this Medford Township center believes teachers should be “facilitators of all types of learning.” Childtime Learning Center uses an “empowered child” curriculum, with a hands-on, creativity-focused approach to learning. Special optional programming includes tumbling classes, dance classes, summer camp programs and art classes. Preschool students learn math, science, literacy and even American Sign Language in the homelike, five-classroom center, and play in one of two outdoor playgrounds—plus a tree house.

This National Early Childhood Program Accreditation program has just 20 students in pre-school and 100 in daycare. Four of the main teachers have bachelor’s degrees in education, while a younger staff member has an associate’s degree. In addition to newsletters and online resources to keep parents informed, the school hosts monthly family nights and encourages parents to participate in activities throughout the year. For interested parents, they offer a virtual tour of the school and programs, plus a free day of care for those considering their options. Spots are available and admission is rolling.

Colors of the Rainbow
401 N. Kings Hwy., Cherry Hill, (856) 667-0962, Colors­InRain­bows.com
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Programs: half and full day, evenings. Fees: $195 for full or half time/five days a week. Ages: 6 weeks through 5 years. Waitlist: No

At Colors of the Rainbow Academy, the faith-based and educational approach is anchored by the idea that “students learn as they play.” In this wooded Cherry Hill campus, small classrooms are warm and inviting. With a focus on cognitive, social, physical and spiritual development, students learn in an academic but play-based setting.

“Our curriculum is based on the interest and needs of children, as well as the recommended examples for children’s growth and development at various ages,” according to staff. Language and literacy lessons are paired with foreign language, math, science and some computer learning.

For multiple siblings enrolling at one time, a family discount is available. The Academy also offers before- and after-school care for elementary students. A summer camp program is offered for ages 6 to 12.

Teachers communicate with parents through daily written reports and activity logs, as well as yearly conferences. Admission is rolling and parents can apply at any time, though there is a registration fee.

Discovery Corner Childcare & Enrichment Center
53 Haddonfield Road, Suite 322, Cherry Hill, (856) 667-6333, DiscoveryCornerKids.com
Hours: 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Programs: morning, afternoon, full day, two to five days per week. Fees: $150 per week for part time/five days; $210 for full time/five days. Ages: Infants-6 years old. Waitlist: Yes, in younger classrooms

Cutting-edge instructional techniques and old-fashioned play meet at this cozy, 95-student daycare and preschool. Infants through pre-K students learn through sign language, while there are also math and computer instructors on site (with computers within the nine classrooms). “We are child-directed, not teacher-directed. Children learn through play. Our curriculum is theme-based, where we incorporate themes within our lesson plan to help children relate to what we’re teaching,” director and owner Nina Turner says. Spanish instruction and a creative curriculum round out the offerings, and all teachers have bachelor’s degrees and certifications. Don’t worry about packing a lunch here. Breakfast, snack and lunch are provided at no extra cost. There are also extra classes kids can sign up for on site, including dance, karate, gymnastics and soccer. Also unique—each month there’s a family of the month, making for plenty of year-round celebrations.

Excel Learning Center
74 E. Main St., Marlton, (856) 596-2224; 1401 S. Church St., Mount Laurel, (856) 608-9000, ExcelLearningCenter.org
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Programs: morning, afternoon and full day, two to five days per week. Fees: $230-264 for full time/five days and $153-188 for part time/five days. Ages: 3-5. Waitlist: Yes, in some classrooms

These sprawling learning centers, housed in large converted farmhouses, boast impressive locations. Mount Laurel’s campus sits on six acres, with an Olympic-sized swimming pool for summer campers and a pond, while Marlton’s setting is on a quiet, tree-lined residential street. Taught by four-year degreed, state-certified teachers, with teaching assistants accompanying each classroom, students participate in a theme-based, hands-on curriculum.

Pre-school and pre-K students explore language and phonics, math, sciences, art and Spanish language. They also practice computer-based learning programs, with additional weekly visits to a central computer lab and an on-site library. Extra classes in karate, dance, cheerleading, mini-sports and instrumental music are available for a fee. For parents with hyper-busy schedules, before-and after-school programs are offered.

Progress is monitored each week and discussed at twice-yearly parent-teacher conferences, or by request. The school is fairly high-tech: There’s a virtual video school tour, and a blog keeps parents updated further on news and special events, like spring trips, graduation dates or class projects like chick hatchings (a recent class named the baby chickens Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber).

First Presbyterian Preschool
20 Kings Highway E., Haddonfield, (856) 429-1960, HaddonfieldPres.org
Hours: 8 a.m.-2:50 p.m. Programs: morning, morning plus lunch, kindergarten extension, two to five days per week. Fees: vary depending on age and program. Pre-K is approximately $2,300 per year for 9-11:30 a.m., five days per week. Ages: 16 months-kindergarten. Waitlist: No

“A whole lot of options” is how preschool director Barbara Sewall describes the programming here. There are kindergarten enrichment programs that include yoga, creative movement, Spanish, science experiments, cooking, music, geography and more. Lead teachers are all certified, and many assistants have degrees as well. The school features lively murals—including a castle, a barnyard and trees, and themed rooms like an aquarium in the coat area and birds in the main office—all designed and painted by the school’s own creative arts instructor. There’s also a state-of-the-art playground with areas for younger and older children, and in the spring, a visiting petting zoo comes to school and a farmer brings eggs so that children can watch chicks hatch. A monthly music class, Thanksgiving and Christmas chorus performances and a Halloween parade are just a few things to look forward to here. For parents, in addition to volunteer opportunities, there are two-way mirrors that allow them to look in on their children without disrupting play or learning.

Four Seasons Childrens Center
1190 S. Church St., Mount Laurel, (856) 866-0444
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Programs: nursery, morning, afternoon, full day. Fees: $165 per week for part time/five days; $275 per week for full time/five days. Ages: Infants to age 10. Waitlist: Yes

Some 75 percent of teachers have four-year degrees in education at this school, which offers a broad range of developmental programs including athletics, computer tots, a weekly language arts specialist, cooking, sign language and foreign languages. Each class sends home a daily activity sheet, and for the youngest children, there are individualized updates sent home each day.

Friends Academy of Westampton
315 Bridge St., Westampton, (609) 267-8198, FriendsAcademy.net
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Programs: full- or half-day preschool, pre-K and kindergarten. Fees: $35 application fee; $200 enrollment fee; $5,300 per year for preschool half days/five days a week; $8,600 per year for preschool full time/five days a week. Ages: 3 years through 8th grade

Friends Academy of Westampton is a co-educational day school, serving preschool through the eighth grade. Situated on a 15-acre wooded campus in Burlington County, the Friends Academy offers the perfect environment to explore and study. Supporting Quaker values, with a challenging academic curriculum, the Friends Academy curriculum includes lessons in art, computer learning, health, physical education, world language, library, environmental stewardship and Quaker Studies.

“We are proud to have our parents as active members of our school community. Whether it’s through reading in the classroom, helping out with service projects, or joining the development committee, Friends Academy parents support our school, its students, teachers and activities,” the school says.

Extra-curricular activities are heavily promoted for the younger and older children, included community service projects, various sports, chorus groups, instrumental music and student-interest clubs.

Additional care is offered before and after school if needed. With an average class size of 16 and a low student-teacher ratio, your child gets a truly unique and individual education here.

The Goddard School
1121 Haddonfield-Berlin Road, Voorhees, (856) 346-1234; 10 Jennings Road, Medford, (609) 714-8686; 250 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, (856) 751-7234; 235 Strawbridge Drive, Moorestown, (856) 235-7006; 2026D Briggs Road, Mount Laurel, (856) 727-4222; 3 Plaza Drive, Sewell, (856) 256-8200; GoddardSchool.com
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Programs: morning, afternoon, full day, two to five days per week. Fees: $150-200 per week for part time/five days; $200-265 for full time/five days. Ages: Infant-kindergarten. Waitlist: Yes, in some classrooms

All teachers are degreed and certified at these schools, which offer classrooms, exploration areas and outdoor playground facilities for infants, toddlers, preschool and after-school students. The progressive curriculum focuses on “flex learning,” driven by the belief that all children learn at different ages and experiences. Teachers attend programs at Goddard University to learn cutting-edge techniques and skills. For an extra fee, children can also sign on for art expression classes. Parents considering an application should apply at least six months in advance for infants, and at least three months in advance for older children.

Haddonfield Friends School
47 N. Haddon Ave., Haddonfield, (856) 429-6786, HaddonfieldFriends.org
Programs: mornings, full day, extended care. Hours: 8:10 a.m.-3 p.m., extended care until 6 p.m. Fees: $9,290-$10,055 per year for mornings/five days; $12,100-$13,000 for full days/five days. Ages: 2-5 years old. Waitlist: Usually for pre-K

This Quaker preschool, attached to a private K-8 day school, focuses on a whole-child education with a curriculum taught by special subject area teachers offering music, Spanish and physical education. Daily in-classroom learning includes art and library. Set on the lower part of the historic campus, the early childhood center includes water fountains and playgrounds designed for preschoolers, and each classroom has a door out to the gated play yard. All lead and assistant teachers are certified, and two out of six lead teachers have master’s degrees. “We are a Quaker school, so the students do, from the very earliest classes, learn conflict resolution skills and techniques,” notes Assistant Head of School Sandy Trezza. “They’re working on learning to use their words to settle any kind of conflict. The other piece of it would be that our school has a diverse community. We draw our student body from 36 zip codes around the school, from Philly all the way down to Medford.” While admission is rolling, the school does follow Haddonfield public schools’ schedule.

Just Children
130 Medford-Mount Holly Road, Medford, (609) 714-2244; 14000 J. Commerce Parkway, Mount Laurel, (856) 234-8687, JustChildren.net
Programs: mornings, full day, two to five days per week. Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Fees: $110 per week for mornings/five days, $219-$259 per week for full days/five days. Ages: infant-kindergarten. Waitlist: Occasionally

Just Children incorporates the most current childcare methods into each classroom. Children learn through a variety of experiences and activities. Through creative exploration as well as teacher-directed activities, a child will experience situations that promote physical, social and cognitive development. Special programs such as music, science and gym classes are offered, as are optional lunches and even a monthly visit from a hair stylist for convenient haircuts. Each class has educational goals, daily art classes coordinated with the week’s theme, and—for full-day children—daily naps from 1 to 3 p.m. Individual and teacher-directed reading, computers in each classroom starting with preschool, and free play on a set schedule round out the day.

The Learning Experience
421 Third Ave., Cherry Hill, (856) 662-6002; 401 S. Burnt Mill Road, Voorhees, (856) 346-4140, TheLearningExperience.com
Programs: half day, full day, school day, early care, late care, two to five days per week. Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Fees: Five-day programs start at $500 per month. Ages: 6 weeks-6 years old. Waitlist: Yes, in some classrooms

These child development centers are equipped to accept infants through preschool students, each in their own classroom. Teachers, 65 percent of whom have completed degrees and certifications ranging from associate’s to master’s, assist with everything from potty training to literacy, sign language, Spanish and reading. The school also has a dedicated room for nursing moms; two outdoor playgrounds (one designed for toddlers); an indoor dramatic play room including a mini Main Street called Make Believe Boulevard; a security monitoring system; and hot lunch plus two snacks for toddlers and older children. Enrichment programs include yoga, math, art, science, dance, drama, music, gymnastics, sign language and Spanish. With the phonics program, 88 percent of children are reading before kindergarten. Quarterly evaluations are distributed to parents and gathered in a portfolio that follows a child from infant to graduation. This year-round program accepts rolling registration.

Montessori Child Development Center
26 W. Main St., Marlton, (856) 983-1101, MCDCMarlton.com
Programs: morning, full day, two to five days per week. Hours: 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Fees: $665 per month for mornings/five days; $880 per month for full days/five days. Ages: 2-kindergarten. Waitlist: No

This academic-based program teaches basic skills, as well as Spanish and Chinese, through a Montessori approach that allows students to help teach one another. Enrichment programs like cooking, science, music and art are included in the price of tuition, and all lead teachers have degrees and certifications. Bright, airy classrooms, a library, an all-purpose room and a fenced-in outdoor playground and picnic area are offered, as are morning and afternoon snacks and an optional lunch. Fewer than 75 students means plenty of individual attention for everyone.

Moorestown Children’s School
760 Garwood Road, Moorestown, (856) 235-9040, MoorestownChildrensSchool.com
Programs: half day, full day, one to five days per week. Hours: 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Fees: $150-170 per week for half days/five days; $215-245 per week for full days/five days. Ages: infants to kindergarten, after school up to sixth grade. Waitlist: No

Housed on an 11-acre farm, nature walks, stream studies and outdoor play are all part of the experience here. With just 40 students, the program is designed to challenge each child while offering them fun, a sense of belonging and plenty of excitement. Children are grouped not just by age but also by readiness, interest level and personality, ensuring that each child is able to thrive—far from a one-size-fits-all approach. While kids aren’t encouraged to spend time on the computer, iPads and other technology are used to enhance teaching when appropriate. All teachers have degrees and certifications, as well as their own teaching specialties.

M’Kor Shalom
850 Evesham Road, Cherry Hill, (856) 424-7339, MkorShalom.org
Programs: mornings, full day, early drop-off, late pickup, lunch, kindergarten enrichment, two, three or five days. Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fees: $3,825 per year for mornings/five days; $6,225 for school days/five days; $7,995 for kindergarten enrichment/five days. Ages: 2-6. Waitlist: In some classes

“We understand that children’s best vehicle for learning is play, so, in preschool, we try to use a play-centered experience to teach children how to learn,” says Lynne Rednik, director of early childhood education. The 150 students have access to a 44,000-square-foot building that includes classrooms, an all-purpose room, music room, gym, playground and outdoor facilities. Attendance incentives include free synagogue membership and discounts on Sunday school for older siblings, plus a dedicated staff, all of whom have degrees and certifications. Academic focuses include math, reading, verbal and listening skills, motor development, socialization, music, dramatic play and Judaic experiences. Parents can opt for morning sessions, plus extended days that include arts and crafts, stories, organized play and lunch.

Rancocas Friends
201 Main St., Rancocas, (609) 267-1265, RancocasFriendsSchool.org
Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Programs: half day and full day, five days a week. Fees: $6,150 per year for full time/five days; $5,150 per year for part time/five days a week. Ages: 3 1/2-6, pre-K and kindergarten. Waitlist: Sometimes

Rancocas Friends School is the only continuously operating one-room schoolhouse in Burlington County. This historic school, under the care of the Rancocas Monthly Meeting, reflects Quaker traditions with an attention to excellent education and social justice. With a small class size of no more than 22 students, children learn old-fashioned educational values, nurturing growth through personal interests and social involvement—and a healthy dose of fresh air from playtime on the open-plan outdoor playground or outdoor amphitheater. One hundred percent of the school’s teachers hold degrees, in early childhood education and psychology, or a kindergarten certification. Structured school sessions run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., though parents can drop off little ones as early as 8 a.m.

Frequent school trips—like an annual science trip to Long Beach Island—are highlights of the program here, in addition to special guests and mentoring programs. Curriculum includes elements of art, literacy, language, French lessons, math and science. Parent-teacher conferences are available on requests or on an as-needed basis, though activity logs or assessments are not part of the program. Parents are encouraged to drop by for unannounced visits and have many volunteer opportunities throughout the year. To apply, in-person visits with your child are strongly encouraged. Applications can be mailed in or submitted from now through Aug. 1.

Sari Isdaner Early Childhood Center at the Katz JCC
1301 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, (856) 424-4444, KatzJCC.org
Hours: 7 a.m.-6:15 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday. Programs: half day, school day (until 3:15 p.m.), and full day, three or five days per week. Fees: $2,678-$16,921, depending on age and program. Ages: 6 weeks-kindergarten. Waitlist: No

There’s no shortage of amenities and programs at this preschool and daycare attached to the Katz Jewish Community Center: an indoor playground, two outdoor playgrounds, a gymnasium, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and an auditorium make this a veritable kiddie place. Moreover, the educational philosophy is underpinned by a developmentally appropriate approach: teaching each student at his or her own pace, and teaching to the whole child to encourage intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth. In kindergarten, instruction includes foreign language instruction in Hebrew. At least 80 percent of teachers have a bachelor’s degree or higher, plus teaching certification, and the 280 students enjoy weekly physical education and music lessons, plus swimming for preschoolers and integrated technology including computers and SMART Boards. As a special perk, enrollees get admittance to all JCC programs for free. Apply for the next school year by touring the center, applying and paying a deposit to hold your spot.

Student-To-Teacher Ratios
We asked for student-teacher ratios for all age groups at each school. There’s a state minimum for each age group (1:4 for infants, 1:8 for toddlers, 1:10 for 27 months to 3 years, and 1:12 for 4-year-olds). Some schools have smaller ratios than required, and a smaller enrollment overall.

Beechwood School: 6:1
Bright Beginnings Academy: 10:1 or lower
Childtime Learning Center: 10:1 for preschool; 12:1 for pre-K
Goddard School: maximum of 4:1 for infants; 6:1 for toddlers; 10:1 for preschool and pre-K
Discovery Corner: 4:1 for infants; 6:1 for toddlers; 10:1 for preschool-pre-K; 12:1 for kindergarten
Excel Learning Center: 4:1 for infants; 7:1 for toddlers; 8:1 for 3 years; 12:1 for 4 years
Four Seasons: 3:1 for infants; 7:1 for preschool
First Presbyterian: 4:1 for infants; 5:1 for 1 to 2 years; 17:3 for 3 years; 17:2 for 4-5 years
Katz JCC: 4:1 for infants-toddlers; 6:1 for 2 years; 8:1 for 3 years; 10:1 for 4 years; 12:1 for kindergarten.
The Learning Experience: 4:1 for infants-18 months; 6:1 for 18 months-2 years; 10:1 for 2-4 years; 12:1 for 4-5 years; 15:1 for 5 years.
Haddonfield Friends: 6:1 for 2 years; 8:1 for 5 years.
Just Children: 4:1 for infants-toddlers; 6:1 for 2-3 years; 10:1 for preschool-pre-K; 12:1 for kindergarten
Moorestown Children’s School: 4:1 for infants; 6:1 for toddlers; 10:1 for preschool;12:1 for pre-K
M’Kor Shalom: 4:1 for 2 years; 6:1 for 3 years; 8:1 for 4 years

Parent and Teacher Communication
We looked at how each center keeps parents involved in their child’s day-to-day activities. From parent teacher conferences, newsletters, online resources and volunteer opportunities. We assigned a point each for the parent-teacher conferences held each year (for example, two conferences gets two points), a point for weekly activity logs, a point for developmental assessments or report cards, a point for allowing unannounced visits, and a point for parent volunteer opportunities.

Friends Academy of Westampton: 7
Bright Beginnings: 6
Discovery Corner: 6
Goddard School: 6
Just Children: 6
Katz JCC: 6
The Learning Experience: 6
M’Kor Shalom: 6
Colors of the Rainbow: 5
Excel Learning Center: 5
Haddonfield Friends: 5
Beechwood School: 4
Childtime Learning Center: 4
First Presbyterian: 4
Four Seasons: 4
Moorestown Children’s School: 4
Montessori Child Development Center: 3
Rancocas Friends: 3

Curriculum
Centers received a checklist of 10 items and earned a point for each: formatted daily schedules, individualized learning practices, rest/nap time, art time, literacy time, foreign language, math, science, computer and free play. We also looked at the flexibility of programs, where parents can choose from full- or part-time enrollment and whole and half days based on their needs. Scores are from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest.

Beechwood School: 10
Bright Beginnings: 10
Childtime Learning Center: 10
Discovery Corner: 10
Four Seasons: 10
Goddard School: 10
Haddonfield Friends: 10
Just Children: 10
Katz JCC: 10
The Learning Experience: 10
Montessori Child Development Center: 10
Excel Learning Center: 9
First Presbyterian: 9
Moorestown Children’s School: 9
M’Kor Shalom: 8

Preschool Perks
Forget circle time. From SMART Boards to sign language, today’s preschools are going above and beyond.

After working all week, the last place Kate Watkins wanted to spend her weekends was at a crowded hair salon—not to mention the fact that her 3-year-old daughter didn’t even like getting her hair cut. “It was always a struggle to get her to sit in the chair, but it was something that had to get done,” says the Mount Laurel mom.

When Watkins found out her daughter’s preschool, Just Children Greentree in Mount Laurel, was going to start bringing in a hair stylist once a month, she decided to give it a shot. Today, her daughter gets excited for “Trim it up Tuesdays” and Watkins couldn’t be happier. “It’s one less thing I have to worry about at home,” she says. “It used to be that she’d end up screaming and crying and we couldn’t get through a single haircut. Now she’s excited about it.”

Haircuts are just one of the perks that area preschools have to offer. Today, many parents are seeking out programs that go beyond traditional circle time or arts and crafts. They want some serious perks out of their childcare and preschool programs, and South Jersey is definitely delivering.

Most preschools offer playtime—both outside and in—but many parents today desire more specialized recreational programs. At the Sari Isdaner Early Childhood Center, part of the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, children can take part in optional afternoon sports enrichment classes that include everything from basketball and tennis to dance and gymnastics. They also offer group swim lessons for preschoolers 3 and older. In Sewell, Soccer Shots, a nationally recognized youth soccer program, is offered at Bright Beginnings, focusing on both soccer skills and character development. JumpBunch, a national program that introduces preschoolers to sports and fitness, is also offered there.

At Discovery Corner Childcare in Cherry Hill, students can take up dance, gymnastics or karate on site.

Technology is also a highly touted bonus. At Moorestown Children’s School, teachers are using iPads and even some iPhone apps in order to enhance student learning. While they feel technology can be a great tool to help children learn, they don’t believe in just sticking little ones in front of a computer screen. Technology-based learning is always teacher-guided. At Sari Isdaner Early Childhood Center, a brand new, state-of-the-art SMART Board was introduced in the classroom this school year. (Think the big white boards that news stations use to show the weather—with all kinds of kid-friendly learning apps). It’s like having a large computer in front of the room, enhancing the way students are taught.

While a lot of these perks make learning more enjoyable, they can also make Mom’s life easier. At Just Children Greentree, besides the haircuts, they also offer portraits (and will change your child into their “photo outfit,” then back into play clothes), special lunches and extra recreational opportunities. “We know that working parents are busy,” says Jayne Passarella, the preschool’s director. “I’m a mother of two, and I know how hard it can be to get everything done. We want to offer as much here as we can. That way parents have more free time to just enjoy being home with their kids.”

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 12 (February, 2012).
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Author: Allie Harcharek, Samantha Melamed and Lindsey Getz

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