Several kids played with wooden blocks and toys Friday afternoon in a noisy room at The Learning Curve in Elkhorn.
Some used scissors to cut out paper Easter eggs at a small table. In a nearby room, others napped on the floor while serene, tranquil music played softly in the background.
The Learning Curve is a full-service day care center that serves children 4 weeks to 12 years old. The center provides twice-daily snacks, a hot lunch and a summer camp for school-aged children.
In August, The Learning Curve is expected to open another location at Wileman Elementary in Delavan, which currently houses the Delavan-Darien School District’s 4-year-old kindergarten and kindergarten classes.
The day care will rent 45% of the building including the cafeteria, library, gymnasium and playground. The Delavan-Darien School Board unanimously approved renting the space to The Learning Curve last week.
The Delavan center will function similar to the one in Elkhorn, day care co-owner Kristen Marseo said.
The Elkhorn center has 15 teachers and is licensed for 70 kids at one time. It is unknown how many children and staff will be at the Delavan center, Marseo said.
In Elkhorn, Marseo said, children are split into classrooms based on age. Classrooms largely resemble a typical public school room, and the center allocates time for kids to play outside every day, weather permitting.
The center focuses on weekly themes such as tornadoes and holidays. Activities and lessons are tailored to each age group and can include colors, numbers, letters, shapes, singing and dancing.
Marseo said the center’s teachers meet with Elkhorn School District administrators monthly to discuss curriculum.
“We don’t just focus on the curriculum. We go beyond it and teach every day stuff,” she said.
Marseo said it is “very common” for children attending the day care to eventually enroll in Elkhorn schools. In some cases, Delavan families have taken their children to the Elkhorn center and later open-enrolled into 4-year-old kindergarten in Elkhorn, said Marc Marseo, co-owner of the center.
“Once you start in a place when you’re younger, you stick with it,” Kristen Marseo said. “... That’s how you make your friends.”
Delavan-Darien School District Superintendent Jill Sorbie said she had an “a-ha” moment while touring the Elkhorn center. She said if children are in day care first, they tend to be able to more easily transition to 4-year-old kindergarten and kindergarten classes.
“We are missing that piece for the Delavan-Darien area. We don’t have that natural flow from when they’re little and growing to public education,” she said.
Sorbie said the district will work with the day care to develop curriculum. Marseo said the Delavan center largely will focus on curriculum that prepares children for Delavan-Darien’s 4-year-old kindergarten classes, which include dual-language programming.
Delavan-Darien will have full-day 4-year-old kindergarten next year instead of two half-day sessions of 4-year-old kindergarten classes.
Sorbie said the center will be a boon for the Delavan-Darien community and local businesses. It also will keep students in the community, which will benefit the school district in the long run, she said.
“I think it will allow the community to grow. It might draw in other industry,” she said. “I’m thrilled. I think the partnership is going to be strong.”