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Little Beginnings moves into new facility in Hastings

Little Beginnings recently celebrated its new space at 12140 120th St. Photo courtesy of Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce

Little Beginnings Learning Center is making moves.

The child care center moved into a new building Oct. 23, updated their logo with a new look and redesigned their website.

With their move, the center that opened in 1999 added more than 3,000 square feet and space for 31 more students and five additional staff members.

"We knew that we were kind of growing out our space and in order to accommodate more of the community, we felt we needed to have a bigger place to offer," said Jen Gelhar, director of Little Beginnings Learning Center.

The new building located at 12140 120th St. features a new toddler room, bigger infant and preschool room, an addition of a school age room and a gym twice as big as the previous one they used. There is also a commercial kitchen that was added; however, the school will continue to use the same caterer it has used.

A nature concept is prevalent in both decoration and programming at Little Beginnings. Nature-inspired artwork is seen in the hallways of the facility and each room is named after a creature like the hoppers or lady bugs. Gelhar said Little Beginnings is also in the process of adding a nature explorer certification to its program.

"What that means is that we put an emphasis on nature and being outdoors so our playground reflects a nature based program versus a traditional playground," Gelhar said.

There is one large piece of traditional playground equipment visible outside. Although the playground area is not yet compete, Gelhar said the space will include a built-in sandbox, pond, dry river bed and log balance beams. An outdoor amphitheater will also allow the children to go outdoors for class. With the addition of the nature-based equipment, there will be plenty of opportunities for the kids to do nature hikes.

Gelhar said she hopes the new nature programming will enhance the kids' appreciation for nature. With so many more opportunities for kids to use electronic devices, she said the extra time outdoors will be a benefit.

Gelhar has worked in child care since she was 15 years old. She took her first director job in 1993. Five years later she was approached by the owner of a newly constructed building and asked to start a new daycare. She took on the challenge and got the experience of building her own daycare.

"I just know that it was preparing me for the next step of actually building my own building," Gelhar said.

Gelhar said that there were a lot of things in the building that were dreams in her head that she was able to put into play. Now that is has been built, she hopes to add more to the experience of a nature-based learning center.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

(651) 319-4503
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