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The Elm Tree

What follows are strengths which were identified during the Qualistar Rating process.

Learning Environment Strengths

The Elm Tree should be highly recognized for receiving a 6.20 ITERS-R score and earning 4 Stars on their first Qualistar Rating!

The program's efforts to create a welcoming environment, that is healthy and safe for children, are evident. Each child is warmly greeted upon their arrival and supported in finding an activity of interest to begin their day. Personal care routines are used to promote self-help skills and to teach health and safety to the children. Staff do an excellent job carrying out the correct diaper changing procedures and ensuring the children adequately wash their hands before and after meals and after toileting/diapering. This is truly a great accomplishment!

The classroom has an abundance of materials and activity areas that are arranged so that children can easily explore their interests. In addition, staff take advantage of children's interests in materials and use that interest as teachable moments.

The children's creativity is encouraged through access to art materials, musical instruments, sand and water play, and blocks. A wealth of materials that encourage children to communicate and problem-solve are also accessible to children. These include dramatic play materials, small figures to enhance children's block play, puppets, and puzzles.

All of The Elm Tree staff talk with the children in their care regarding transitions and activities. The use of this language provides children with a sense of being welcomed and wanted in the classroom, as well as expanding their vocabulary. Additionally, staff use personal care routines as a time to relate warmly with children. For example, staff sit with children at meals, engaging children in conversations and help children rest at naptime.

Staff provide and take advantage of opportunities to support social skills throughout the day. Positive interactions between children are positively reinforced and staff help children resolve conflicts as they arise. Congratulations for receiving perfect Language and Reasoning and Interaction scores.

In addition, staff were frequently observed stimulating development of brain functioning and laying the foundation for speech by frequently reading and singing to the children. Staff encourage children to "think out loud" and reflect on their activities as they play with materials that require reasoning and discuss events of the day.

Throughout the interactions observed it is evident that working with children is the passion of all adults employed at The Elm Tree. They are patient with challenging behaviors, provide positive and loving physical touch, and simply laugh along with the children in their care. These types of interactions are the foundation for early learning to take place. Continue to provide children with feelings and opportunities for successful learning.

The daily schedule provides a balance of active and quiet play periods. The playground is spacious and well equipped with an assortment of gross motor equipment that simulates a variety of large muscle skills. Staff enhance the children's outdoor experiences by providing an abundance of dramatic play materials and having the children lend a helping hand in the vegetable garden. The Elm Tree staff should be highly praised for taking children outdoors on a daily basis. The staff are not only supporting the children's gross motor development, they are providing children with the health benefits of being exposed to fresh air.

Congratulations, again, on providing high quality care to the children and families served at The Elm Tree.

Family Partnership Strengths

Congratulations on earning the maximum points allowable in this portion of the rating evidencing the feelings of families served at The Elm Tree.

Families shared the following comments:

"I love the Naropa connection; would like to see the lunch/communication board more up to date when possible. Very happy with the quality of care. Many talented childcare experts, especially Kenny."

"I have been very impressed with the levels of conscious care and love that my son received at the Elm Tree from the very beginning of his time there. I would recommend the Elm Tree to parents with young children in the future."

"Every staff person at the Elm Tree has shown sincere interest in my daughter's development. She has thrived and grown to develop new skills and interests that I can attribute to the influence of the environment at the Elm Tree. I have been very pleased with my decision to enroll her here."

"We love this program! We have our second child here and we have such confidence and enthusiasm in and about the teachers and the philosophy/culture and practice. Only regret is that they can't stay past 3 years old!"

"Excellent at responding to parent feedback, concerns communicating to other teachers so everyone is on same page."

"Our daughter has really thrived and grown from the love and teachings that she is given at Elm Tree. I am amazed daily at new developments."

"My son has only been in the program three months, but I am thrilled with how much he enjoys being there. It's also evident to me that the staff care deeply about him and all his classmates."

"The Elm Tree is a great program and their specialty in the toddler age group is unparalleled in the community. My girls love the program and all the teachers."

"We cannot state strongly enough how impressed we are with the Elm Tree staff and how rich and rewarding the experience has been for our child. I cannot imagine entrusting her care to more professional, more capable, more caring people."

"We are very happy with Elm Tree. The staff is very good with our daughter and she learns something new every day. She looks forward to going to school."

Training and Education Strengths

The Executive Director holds a Bachelors Degree in Nursing, the Program Director has completed over 24 Early Childhood Education credit hours at an accredited college and sixty percent of the teaching staff hold Bachelors Degrees. The program reports they continue to support staff education by providing opportunities for training within the local area using the resources of colleges such as Naropa and Front Range Community College and through Agencies such as the Early Childhood Council of Boulder County.

Adult: Child Ratios / Group Size Strengths

The program meets top standards in the adult-to-child ratios it maintains. During the observation the program maintained a 1:3 adult to child ratio. Providing ratios at this level enabled staff to adequately supervise children to ensure their safety and to individualize planning and activities to meet children's individual needs and interests.