December 9, 2022 12:47 PM
by Ivy Chang
The first years of life are the best time to ensure a strong future for all Santa Monica children. Early education advances equity and is essential for thriving families and communities. Whether children begin care as infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, Santa Monica is home to a wide range of early learning programs, with varying curriculums, hours, and costs.
Enriching and safe care should be available to all children, regardless of their family’s income, needs, race or ethnicity, or the languages they speak. Connections for Children, our local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, can help you find a program that meets your needs and determine if you qualify for funding to help pay for it (connectionsforchildren.org or (310) 452-3325).
Our communities are stronger when every child is healthy, safe, and engaged in early learning. Read on to learn about the passionate and diverse professionals doing this important work in Santa Monica. This is part 8 of a series.
Program Name: Stepping Stone Child Care & Preschool
Program Director: Ana Garcia
Ages of children served: 0 to 5 years
Operating Hours: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm, year-round
Stepping Stone Child Care & Preschool has been a part of the Santa Monica community for over 20 years. Ana offers a bilingual program with delicious home-cooked meals and a beautiful garden backyard for students to explore.
What is unique about your program’s approach to early care and education?
We inspire children to be more creative, ambitious, and outgoing. We encourage children to paint what they want, using the colors they want. The older children have different abilities than the younger ones, and we nurture the individual development of each child. For example, the younger children may finger paint while the older children do something different and more appropriate for their developmental stage.
Your program includes meals. Can you tell us what mealtimes look like?
I cook for the children every day. Even the children who graduated come back to visit and ask me to cook for them. We always have a little party when they visit because more than anything they remember the food. Some favorites include Italian chicken, crispy chicken, and empanadas. I create a different menu for each day. Parents provide snacks and I provide everything else.
Can you share more about your bilingual program?
Everything we do in our program is done in both English and Spanish. The children come in with mixed levels of exposure to Spanish, as some parents speak Spanish at home and others don’t. However, all the children learn fast by repeating what they hear at school. Our circle time is bilingual, and music and mealtimes are both in Spanish. We communicate in English to parents who don’t speak Spanish.
How do you incorporate outdoor space into your program?
We have a beautiful and expansive outdoor area. A lot of our program happens outdoors, and the children really enjoy it. The backyard is always full of flowers, and we have a big grassy area where they love to run around and play. We also have a big garden for the children to explore. We spend a lot of time outside!
Please contact Stepping Stone Child Care & Preschool at stepstonechildcare.com or (310) 452-2136 for more information.
Past blog posts:
How Early Childhood is an Investment in the Future
3 Reasons Why Early Childhood Matters in Santa Monica
Homepage for ECE Blog Post Series
Senior Administrative Analyst