Early Learning Center (ELC)


EL3The Early Learning Center was established as an early education program in 1986, after the Country Inn Program. It was a redesigned service model of the Children’s Country Inn, a temporary residential program for children with special needs. Parents were looking for a program that would allow them to go back to work, care for other children or just have time during the week. The Early Learning Center was designed to provide an integrated setting for young children with special needs by opening the enrollment to children in the community. The program grew over the years continuing the mission to provide an integrated program for preschool aged children.

In 1995 the program applied for national accreditation the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). At the time very few child care programs in Vermont were accredited. In 2008, the program earned accreditation under the revised program standards established by NAEYC.

Educational Philosophy

The Early Learning Center is a caring and supportive environment for children as they experience socialization and awareness of the world. These experiences are accomplished by an educated and experienced teaching team.

We use emergent curriculum inspired by the Reggio philosophy, which is child directed learning. Emergent curriculum provides the most meaningful experiences to the child, focusing on their interests through explorations in dramatic play, art, music and experimentation of ideas and concepts. Teachers help children expand on their play choices, encouraging the use of materials in new and different ways. This curriculum approach teaches independence, problem solving, relationship building and creative thinking.

Each day the children have opportunities to participate individually, in small and whole groups as well as center wide activities. We believe that all children learn best when in a supportive community that is sensitive to the child’s individual learning and social needs. We accomplish this through daily play experiences, parent involvement, consultation and participation with other developmental, social or medical supports the child has in the community. This collaborative approach supports learning and social development. Children with education plans are welcome and our teachers work with the special education team to accomplish the child\’s education and therapeutic goals within the daily routines of the day. It is our policy that education plan goals take place within the daily routines rather than isolated pull-out services with a specialist.

We believe that every child is a unique and special person. Children with special needs educated in an integrated environment benefit from the experience, and children who are typically developing learn compassion and tolerance which carries with them through life. We plan our curriculum by learning about each child’s abilities and needs through parent communication, observation, developmental screening and ongoing experiences with the child within the context of the classroom and other community providers involved with the child and family. Each classroom environment considers the current group’s needs to create experiences that encourage learning through active participation by the children with the adults and available materials, as well as with each other.

Our goals for each child are:

Taste of the Town

  • Feel secure in the school environment
  • Develop an awareness of him/herself as an important and unique person
  • Develop positive relationships with a variety of children and adults
  • Learn to resolve conflicts with confidence and independence
  • Increase language and literacy skills
  • Develop large and small motor skills
  • Explore and create freely in an environment that accepts individual learning styles and interests
  • Learn to think independently to make logical connections

How to Enroll Your Child

We request parents or caregivers to call the Center to ask about placement availability, questions about the program or to schedule a visit. All families are encouraged to visit once without your child to get an idea if this setting would be a good match. When a placement is available, we ask families to visit with their child a minimum of 3 times before placement begins. This gives the child the chance to begin relationship building and the parent the opportunity to see the child within the context of the group.

Before a child begins placement all required visits and paperwork must be completed, including all financial and child care paperwork.

Parent Participation and Support

Getting DressedParenting is a rewarding experience. However, there are difficult moments along the way that cause concern and may require support. We will meet with you anytime you feel the need to discuss your child’s program, development or other concerns. We will support your needs beyond our expertise with referrals to other community providers when you want more information or support.

Two times a year we have Parent Conference days. This is an opportunity for a one on one meeting with your child’s teacher to talk about his/her daily experiences. Parents are welcome to observe the child in the classroom setting, to accompany the group on field trips or just stop by for lunch or snack. We host several family events throughout the year, which provide opportunities to build relationships with other families.

We require, as part of our contract, that families fulfill 10 hours of volunteer time over the course of the year (July -June). Parents can spend time in the classroom playing with the children, reading books, working on projects, participating at events, helping to clean classrooms and other school-related tasks. It’s always fun to have parents come in to talk about their jobs or share special talents or hobbies with the children. Also if you have any particular skills – carpentry, sewing, accounting, web development, etc. – we often have school-wide projects and events where we can use support.

Teacher Education

As a high quality early care and education center it is important to provide continuous education experiences for the teachers involved with your child. Time for teachers to be together to learn, plan and have opportunities to share ideas enhances the program we provide for your child. Teachers are required to complete a minimum of 12 Professional Development hours per year. The Center actively supports the teachers in their professional development by hosting workshops, holding in-service hours, and providing time off and funding for workshops held outside the Center.

Center Hours:

The Center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Staff Meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month from September through June. On these days the Center will close at 3:30.

Full Day Placement

Limited to 9 hours per day.

Half Day Placement

May be available on an individual basis; there is a premium charge for this arrangement.


Tuition is calculated on a monthly basis.

All Classrooms – Tuition 2016-2017

5 Full Days: $1,000/month
4 Full Days: $800/month
3 Full Days: $600/month

EL3 & EL4 – VT Public Pre-K Assistance*

5 Full Days: $750/month
4 Full Days: $550/month
3 Full Days: $350/month

*VT residents Public Pre-K assistance – $3,000 annually. These rates are calculated over a 12-month period. Per Act 166, it is possible to pass through all $3,000 of Public Pre-K assistance over the course of 10 months though either full tuition or the summer hold fee of $250 per month would apply for July and August. Please see Lisa Whitney at 802-257-7852, ext. 302 to discuss these details.

The program also accepts financial assistance from the Vermont Child Care Financial Assistance Program and the New Hampshire Child Care Scholarship Program.

If you are enrolling your child for the first time at the Early Learning Center, one month of tuition is due with the application and is applied to the first month of attendance. This is non-refundable.

Age of Children Enrolled

6 weeks to 5 Years

For More Information

Please contact Angela Hoag, ELC Administrative Coordinator, at 802-257-2101, ext. 210 or angela@winstonprouty.org.