Early Education in Santa Monica: Nuestra Casita Nursery

April 28, 2022 3:24 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 3 of a series.

program name: Nuestra Casita Nursery

Program Directors: Kathy Yanez

Ages of children served: Infants through preschoolers

Operating Hours: 8:00 am – 5:30 pm, year-round

Brief History: After working as a preschool teacher and early childhood educator for 24 years, Kathy Yanez embraced the opportunity to open Nuestra Casita Nursery. Through her family child care, she supports families by implementing her own approach to the care and guidance of young children.

How did you choose Early Childhood Education as a career?

Building a community and supporting parents through the first five years is key. We see the first years as an opportunity to impart skills and teach children how to be self-advocates. We work on building self-help skills from infancy because young children are so much more capable than most people think. Our children have developmentally appropriate responsibilities like opening their own lunch boxes and keeping track of their water bottles.

Aside from teaching them numbers and letters, we want children to know how to say things like “I don’t like that you’re pushing my body,” or “I don’t want to play that game—it’s too rough.” We prepare our children to communicate their needs and do things on their own. These years are important because if we don’t prepare them well, they won’t have the skills they need to be successful in elementary school and the big world to come.

What is unique about your program’s approach to early care and education?

We have a passionate commitment to promoting the Spanish language to young children. Research shows that what works best for young children is to support their curiosity and exploration. Therefore, we do not teach Spanish. We speak and live the Spanish language as we guide the children through their everyday experiences. Our unique teaching approach, which combines Spanish immersion, child-centered learning, constructivist, and progressive philosophy is a great combination to help a child flourish in their early years.

Working in our outdoor classroom and connecting with nature is also at the heart of our curriculum. We spend ample time in our gardens and explore all the elements that nature provides throughout the year.

What are some features specific to family child cares?

Family child care providers can offer the home feeling many parents are looking for. Smaller groups can also provide a better way to support each individual child and family. In addition, the director can provide close guidance to staff, as well as make themselves more available to parents. With our smaller group, I can make better observations of where each child is at, what their needs are, and what additional support they require. Family child care providers also offer quality care at a lower tuition price than most center-based programs. The pandemic has demonstrated that a smaller group can be safer than having large numbers of children.

Please contact Nuestra Casita Nursery directly for more information at nuestracasitanursery.com or (310) 912-5475.

For a list of licensed early childhood programs in Santa Monica, go to: santamonicacradletocareer.org/childcare

If you are a licensed ECE provider in Santa Monica who would like to share your story, email [email protected]

Past blog posts:

How Early Childhood is an Investment in the Future

3 Reasons Why Early Childhood Matters in Santa Monica

ECE Blog post #1: Beth Shir Shalom Early Childhood Center

ECE Blog post #2: Palisades Preschool

Authored By

Ivy Chang
Senior Administrative Analyst


Programs, Youth And Seniors

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