Designed to fill a critical and deepening local workforce need as professionals with young children return to the office, Marymount University’s new Early Learning Academy is nearing its Fall 2023 launch date as staff prepare to offer an exceptional early childhood learning experience.
A year-round, full-day program for preschoolers of ages 2.5-5, the Early Learning Academy will serve families with a focus on high-quality and innovative early childhood education in which preschoolers experience learning through imagination, creativity and individualized opportunities and interventions while allowing the next generation of educators to observe, apply and research best practices in early childhood education.
“Guided by research in child development, our goal is to provide a safe, dynamic play-based environment where children discover and reach their full potential in a diverse and engaging university setting,” said Kristen Cunningham, Director of Marymount University’s Early Learning Academy. “It’s estimated that 90 percent of a child’s brain development happens before the age of five, so it is critical that we provide enriching learning opportunities and a personalized approach that focuses on each child’s unique strengths and abilities.”
Conceptualized and designed by faculty from Marymount’s School of Education, the Early Learning Academy was envisioned as a ‘lab school’ that will benefit from evidence-based research by faculty experts from across the University. This includes, in particular, areas of study such as psychology, health sciences, nursing, counseling and, of course, education.
“I am so excited to officially welcome the Early Learning Academy into the overall Marymount community, as it will infuse all the available campus resources of a nationally ranked university into supporting young minds,” explained Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University. “With our lab school model, children can explore literacy and language, STEM, the arts, music, movement, nature and more in a safe and caring environment that fosters cognitive, emotional, physical and social growth.”
The Early Learning Academy will use The Creative Curriculum ® for Preschool, a comprehensive, research-based curriculum that features exploration and discovery as a way of learning, enabling children to develop confidence, creativity and lifelong critical thinking skills. On-site benefits for children include a brand new state-of-the-art playground and classrooms, as well as full use of all University resources, including Marymount’s gymnasium, pool, gardens, library and campus cafeteria.
Marymount previously provided a similar offering through the Gerard Majella Child Care Center, which opened on campus in 1974 and served Arlington families for many years.
“This is a revival of that idea – we’re building on the past with something that started with our passion for children,” said Dr. Lisa Turissini, Director of Marymount University’s School of Education. “Plus, we see that there’s a big need in the Arlington community, and Marymount plays a crucial role in the region through both economic development and serving others. Our Early Learning Academy initiative is a great demonstration of both of those ideas in action.”
A 6,000-square-foot portion of Marymount’s Emerson G. Reinsch Library is currently being renovated to accommodate the physical space of the Early Learning Academy, with construction expected to be completed by late July. Class playdates are scheduled during the summer, with the first day of school scheduled for early September.
Applications are currently being accepted for the 2023-2024 school year, with a maximum total of 64 spots available. Further details on the application process and more can be found on the Early Learning Academy’s website.