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Getting to know your neighbor: It’s all about the children at A Leap in Learning

SAY CHEESE — Boston center Director Sarah DeAnthony (left) and owner Sherry Phillips have fun with the kids at A Leap in Learning. Photo by Jessie Owen.
BOSTON — With an extensive history of childcare under their collective belts, the staff members at Boston’s A Leap in Learning share a goal of providing area parents with dependable and affordable service.

Owner Sherry Phillips said that her own children inspired her to utilize her degrees in elementary education to open a childcare center.

The Western New York native had received a degree in business, from the University of Texas, after which, she completed another undergraduate and a graduate degree in elementary education.

BUDDING ARTIST — Staff member Autumn Bunnell is pictured, making handprints with one of the children.

After learning the tricks of the trade, at a local childcare center for several years, Phillips decided to go out on her own. She ran a group day care, out of her home, for two years, while looking for a building to house her growing business.

The first A Leap in Learning was opened at 79 Buffalo St. in Hamburg. After three months of gutting and remodeling the entire building, Phillips moved her staff into the Hamburg space, which can accommodate up to 100 children.

Three years ago, Phillips, ready to expand, found a spot on Boston State Road that she said suited her needs perfectly. “I was looking for a smaller center, with more of a homey feel,” she said. The 3,600-square foot facility in Boston is large enough to comfortably suit 40 kids.

COME ON IN — A Leap in Learning is located at 8965 Boston State Road.

Phillips began the process in May 2010 and opened the Boston A Leap in Learning center, the following September. “I knew what I wanted it to look like here, and I hired people who could make my dreams come to fruition,” she explained.

The Boston facility is directed by Sara DeAnthony, whom Phillips had worked with, at her previous day care job. A total of eight staff members keep the Boston State Road center open for business and greet kids with open arms and “smiles on their faces,” according to Phillips.

“Childcare is often very expensive,” Phillips said. “We offer quality, affordable childcare, to parents.”

Kids who attend A Leap in Learning are given breakfast and lunch, as well as two healthy snacks, every day. They spend time playing outside, in the fresh air, and are taught skills that prepare them for their educational futures.

A rainbow playground allows for plenty of outdoor fun.

DOWN SHE GOES — A rainbow playground allows kids to exercise and get some fresh air, in safety. Photos by Jessie Owen.

Children aged 6 weeks – 12 years may attend A Leap in Learning Monday – Friday, from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Parents of school-aged children in the Hamburg School District may opt into before- and after-school care, as well.

The infant room is provided for children aged 6 weeks – 18 months old. “Everyone in this room has a different schedule,” Phillips said. The youngsters participate in “tummy time” and one-on-one time with the staff members, some of which have been in childcare for 20 or more years.

Children 18 – 36 months old spend time in the toddler room, focusing on socialization skills, which Phillips said include sharing, playing nicely, using their words and building their fine and large motor skills. The kids create artwork, sing and dance, every day. During the daily circle time, they play games together and practice their colors and the alphabet, with their teachers.

The preschool/prekindergarten room houses kids aged 3 – 5.

“We do all sorts of skills for kindergarten readiness,” DeAnthony said. Children in this room are taught pre-reading, pre-math, counting, colors, shapes, manners and social skills. DeAnthony, who said that she “fell into” the childcare career and found that it was something she loved, added that the preschool age group is one that she particularly enjoys. “They talk and want to tell you everything,” she said. “I always have lots of funny stories.”

Children in kindergarten – 12 years old are welcomed to the center before and after school and on days off. In addition, A Leap in Learning welcomes school-aged children to participate during open hours, in its summer program, which includes arts and crafts and lots of outdoor time.

“We are pretty unique, in that we do a lot of field trips,” Phillips said. The school-aged kids, joined by the preschoolers and their Hamburg counterparts, make trips to locations such as Beaver Meadows, the Buffalo Zoo, the Aquarium of Niagara and Niagara Falls.

The center hosts many events, for the whole family, throughout the year, including a spring fling, Mother’s Day tea, Pizza with Pops and, to celebrate kids’ moving up to kindergarten, a graduation that everyone is invited to attend.

In addition, at Christmas, the center offers free day care for parents who would like to have a night out.

“I got lucky, with my staff,” Phillips said, about the individuals who staff both of her business locations. “I have very good people.”

All of the staff members are trained in first aid and CPR. The head teachers all have at least an associate’s degree in child development or a similar degree or a 2-year child development credential with a focused study. Directors Phillips and DeAnthony both have earned master’s degrees.

“My staff know what the kids need,” Phillips said. “I am really, really lucky to have such great staff. This is a great place to be, every day.”

A Leap in Learning accepts children, year-round. For more information or, to take a tour, call 941-9588, visit www.aleapinlearning.com or email aleapinlearning@gmail.com.

The childcare center is located at 8965 Boston State Road in Boston.




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