Our son started in Ladybugs in September of 2014 and is leaving for Kindergarten later this summer. We also have a daughter in the two’s classroom and our third child will be starting in their infant room in the Fall.
At different times in the last five years we’ve had kids in multiple daycares in Maryland and Chicago. We’ve been lucky enough to have had many good daycare experiences, but Ladybugs would be top of the list.
Here are some reasons why we love it there –
Ladybug’s have made staff retention a priority, when they get good people, they make sure to hang on to them. This continuity is great for our kids as they get to go and interact with someone each day that they have formed a relationship with over a number of years.
One of the keys to the success of their staffing policy is their willingness to promote from within. The current Director worked in our son’s class when he started there, he has moved up through the ranks and is doing a great job leading the facility each day. He knows the families, he has been in the classroom, understands the challenges and is definitely invested in our kid’s development.
The current Assistant Director is also a former teacher and is really great with the children. This model of enabling people to move from classroom to front office really seems to pay dividends.
The ownership listen to the parents. The facility was quite new when we started, there were teething troubles, but they weren’t scared to engage and listen to opinions, that has continued and many of the initiatives that have been put in place came directly from parent outreach.
Our kids have probably interacted with 10-12 teachers and assistants since they started, we have been so impressed by their dedication and patience. They aren’t in the business of ‘minding’ kids each day, they really want to develop the kids. Standards and expectations are high at Ladybugs, and for us the teachers exceed those expectations consistently.
Huge time and effort has been put into creating an age appropriate curriculum that keeps the day interesting and also prepares the pre-schoolers for the move to kindergarten.
There is a theme for each week and every day explores some aspect of the weekly theme. Parents are notified what the theme is each week and encouraged to continue the conversation at home.
The curriculum is consistent among all classes, so if it the theme is Art and Artists one week, the toddlers might be learning basic drawing skills while the pre-schoolers are drawing but also learning about Van Gogh and Monet.
Special activities like weekly yoga, music and Spanish classes offer some excellent diversity to the program.
Ladybugs partner with Whole Foods to create healthy meal options for breakfast, lunch and snack time. The menu is updated every season and parents are given copies of the menu in advance, so you know each day what your kids will be eating in school and plan accordingly. In conversations with other parents and kids, the food options seem to be a big hit.
Parents wanted to have a better insight into their kid’s day, so Ladybugs built a custom app to facilitate that. It’s updated several times each time and keeps you informed about what your kids did and didn’t eat, when they napped, what activities took place. Photos are posted regularly to the app. It’s been a great addition. Beyond that, teachers are totally open to discussing any aspect of your child’s day. This can be difficult at pick up when they are watching the class and also helping kid’s pack up for the day, despite that, they take the time to engage and answer any questions you might have.
Daycare is expensive in Chicago, but Ladybugs compares pretty well with places we’ve looked at and used in the neighborhood and downtown. We paid about 20% extra for a daycare downtown for our daughter initially (close to Mom’s work). The facilities were very impressive, the people were fine, but they weren’t invested in the kids like the Ladybug’s staff are.
Ladybugs is a really friendly community, I can’t think of any real problems among parents in the three years we’ve been going there. You’ll often see Ladybugs families hanging out together in Lincoln Sq, or grabbing dinner at local restaurants. It’s a welcoming group. They have an unofficial Facebook group for parents to communicate with each other, people are quick to help if someone goes on there looking for advice and help, the general attitude is welcoming and it feels like people look out for each other’s kids and want them to do well.
It’s been a great three years sending our kids to Ladybugs and we hope to have five more years ahead of us there.