Holt’s Midway Early Learning Center serves approximately 300 children, from only six weeks old up to five years. “I don’t know if people realize that we have a childcare facility here that starts in infancy, and the whole school is on the same curriculum,” says Heather Crandall, Director of Childcare. But what kind of curriculum applies to infants? “We’re tracking to make sure that they meet all their developmental milestones.”
She continues, “Parents should definitely tour different places and choose what they think is best for their family. Some parents may want a smaller home setting. But some parents want to come here where their child can start at six weeks and then stay all the way up until they go to kindergarten.” Crandall’s son started at the Midway Learning Center 18 years ago. Last year, when he graduated from Holt High School, Heather went back and counted the other kids who had completed their entire education in Holt Public Schools. “There were 18 graduating seniors who had started in our school district as infants.”
Thanks to a bond passed by the township last year, the center has been undergoing renovations. It has a new, secure entrance, updated HVAC, updating parking and lighting, and an improved playground area- with a special place for infants and toddlers to play.
In addition to a tuition-based preschool model, the Midway Learning Center offers the Great Start Readiness program- which is subsidized for families who meet the requirements. This program offers transportation for kids and includes snacks and a daily, family-style lunch for preschool-aged children. This builds a sense of community, and teaches fine motor skills like how to open a carton of milk.” Assistant Director Jenn Phinney chimes in, “They’ll help each other, sometimes they’ll even help me. It’s teaching them to help each other and solve problems.”
The Midway Learning Center also hosts the Michigan State University’s Early Learning Institute(ELI), which serves young children with autism. The program has its own classrooms and 1-on-1 behavioral therapists who work with autistic children on different skills. “It could be as easy as walking into the classroom and making a loop and walking out. They’re working on handling transitions smoothly,” says Phinney, “It could be just saying ‘hi.’ Some of them work up to being in a classroom for three hours, but they could’ve started at five minutes of just making eye contact. As they accomplish that skill, they move on to what’s next.”
This integration not only helps kids who have autism to succeed in a kindergarten classroom, it offers a benefitfor their peers. “It teaches diversity,” says Heather, “You’re seeing someone that maybe has different abilities than you do and that’s okay, and they’re still in our class.”
Midway Early Learning Center is located at 4610 Spahr Ave, Holt, MI 48842. Call 517.694.3411 or visit www.hpsk12.net/our-schools/midway/ for more information.