Children’s Museum of E.C. to Launch New Preschool Program
new partnership will serve kids ages 6 months to 5 years
A new venue for early childhood education is making its way to the Chippewa Valley.
Beginning next school year, the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire’s new preschool program will serve kids ages 6 months to 5 years of age, including a 4-year-old kindergarten program with before- and after-school care, and offer a curriculum that channels and challenges the child as individuals. The program will have a capacity for 60 children total, with the 4K having a capacity of 18 children for a morning or afternoon session.
The childcare and 4K programs will be open for the start of the 2022-23 school year, while the new museum itself – which is under construction on North Barstow Street – isn’t expected to be open to the public until November, the museum said.
"This program is inspired by the philosophies of Montessori and Reggio Emilia, where children will be presented with a warm, beautiful environment that promotes exploration, discovery, and the freedom to get messy,” said Lydia Ekenstedt, who will direct the program. “They will have opportunities to learn practical life skills, with a big emphasis on social/emotional awareness, and building independence. The children drive the learning to bring out the wonder and beauty that is already inside them.”
A typical school day will include activities that enhance social, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth. Experienced teachers encourage children to explore, imagine, and create in a small class size setting, fostering an appreciation of all things STEAM.
The Children’s Museum of Eau Claire is partnering with Ekenstedt’s Montessori-inspired and structured in-home daycare, Peace Tree Child Care. Ekenstedt has been director of Peace Tree Child Care since its inception in August 2020. A graduate of UW-La Crosse, she holds a degree in elementary and early childhood education, has her Wisconsin teaching license, and also holds a Montessori certified teaching certificate. Museum CEO Michael McHorney said the organization is excited about the collaboration with Peace Tree Child Care, saying the partnership has rewarding possibilities on the horizon.
“The Children’s Museum is thrilled to be partnering with Peace Tree Child Care,” McHorney said. “Children’s Museums across this country have been responding to unique community needs since the first one opened in 1899 in Brooklyn. Communities across this country are challenged with meeting demand for affordable, high-quality child care. We feel our unique model will contribute to addressing this crisis and possibly inspire other communities to do the same.”
While the project continues during the next 11 months, CMEC will continue focusing on forging new partnerships and building more support across the community – from individuals, volunteers, businesses, and foundations.
To add your child to the early enrollment waiting list, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit Children’s Museum of Eau Claire’s website, ChildrensMuseumEC.com, or Peace Tree’s website, peacetreecare.com.