Early Learning Center

We regard children as capablestrong and autonomous.  We believe that they are observers who approach the world with curiosity and a desire to learnWe believe in their capacity to be problem-solvers who can think creatively and work collaboratively.  We believe that children, like all of us, are seeking to find ways to belong, and need time and space to express their emotions. We strive to create a joyful, predictable, caring and authentic environment, in which they can explore, learn and grow fully into the unique and important individuals that they are.   


The Early Learning Center (ELC) 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 (ELC) is an inclusive early education program serving infants to preschool-aged children. We use the Roots Approach, which is influenced by the work of Magda Gerber/Emmi Pickler/RIE®, Early MTSS, CSEFEL Pyramid Model, and Brazelton Touchpoints. The Roots Approach is Responsive, Respectful, Relationship-based, Reflective Early Care and Education.

Responsive: We believe that careful observation and attention in all our interactions leads to authentic and intentional responses.

Respectful: We believe that all people—children, families, caregivers, colleagues—deserve respect. We recognize and value our unique perspectives, differences, and commonalities. In our interactions, we strive to try to understand each other, to build on strengths, and assume competence no matter the age.

Relationship-based: We believe that healthy relationships are integral to healthy development, at every age and stage. Healthy relationships are reciprocal and respectful.

Reflective: We believe that reflection begins with curiosity. Reflective practitioners try to understand, ask questions, and remain open to feedback and change. Reflection may happen in the moment, before, or after an interaction, offering an opportunity to be more intentional in future interactions and help to build relationship and competence.

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:

  • 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

Parent Participation and Support

Parenting 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.

For More Information

Follow the links below or please contact our Co-Directors Ann Linge, ann@winstonprouty.org or Honor Woodrow, honor@winstonprouty.org.

Enrollment And Tuition

ELC Family Handbook (please note, some sections may not apply during the current COVID-19 pandemic)