Within the colorful confines and outdoor play areas of The Learning Experience, young children don’t just play and learn, they’re also absorbing a valuable lesson about the importance of philanthropy in life.
Every month, the administrators and teachers at The Learning Experience, at 86 Oak St., find a new way to teach children why it’s important to help others.
That experience starts at the very top of The Learning Experience’s leadership. Deepash Patel, who with his wife, Shital, owns several of the pre-schools in Connecticut, knows well what it’s like to have others lend a helping hand when you need it.
“I’ve been in tough spots. I’ve been in situations where I didn’t know how I was going to feed my family the next day. So often the world can be a tough place, but there are good people out there and I want to deliver that message to our students at an early age. It’s a true connection for me to help people at an early age learn the value of helping others.”
That mission is part of the school’s curriculum with a revolving monthly theme of philanthropic causes the kids take part in.
In January, students helped raise funds and goods for local animal shelters, in February, they collected diapers for the Connecticut Diaper Bank. Other recent endeavors include a book drive, and drives to get art supplies for children’s hospitals and clothing for the Loaves & Fishes organization.
“We’re teaching students, as soon as they're toddlers, how to give back and be part of the community and how our families can be part of that philanthropic mission,” Deepash says. “Not everyone is as fortunate as others in life and I love that we can make children aware of that fact and teach them that there are good people out there, people who can help and people who need help. I want to deliver that message at an early age to children.
“It’s a very unique approach and while we’re talking about it with the kids, we’re also asking parents to get involved as well. We believe it’s really important for all of our families to be a part of our lessons in giving back. When the students are conversing with their parents at home and they get very excited about their involvement.”
The Learning Experience franchises child care centers across the country and stresses a “learn through doing” approach in its programs, geared for children from six weeks to six years old.
The Patels own seven Learning Experience centers in Connecticut. Besides the one on Oak Street they also currently operate in New Haven, Cromwell, South Windsor, Cheshire, Enfield and Fairfield.
The preschools develop curricula specifically for each age group because children have “much different learning needs” at all different ages, Shital says.
“Other centers will have kids ages 1, 2 and 3 all in one group. But a 1-year-old is very different developmentally from a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old.”
The Learning Experience
86 Oak St., Glastonbury