Across from the local Farmers Market, to the left of the United Methodist Church, sits Learning Tree. It’s one of only two full fledge childcare facilities within Winnfield.
Learning Tree began taking shape from the bones of its predecessor, ‘Kid’s World,’ in 2021. What started as a fee-based after-school, summer, and holiday childcare program has now transitioned into a free four-day, after-school, Christian-based curriculum accommodating 25 children from grades Pre-K through 4th.
Keeping with Winn Primary School’s release schedule, the children are off the van and beginning their afternoons within the facility after 3 pm. With a short bathroom break and a little snack, they’re into their rotated lessons of the day consisting of subjects like bible study, music, reading comprehension, cooking, crafts, and even group STEM (science, tech, engineering, mathematics) projects based on their message of the week, all wrapped up by 5:30 for parent pick-up. While the subject matter and established environment Learning Tree offers its children is a daily priority, the heart of the program is to nurture each child with the same love and kindness shown to man by Christ.
The United Methodist Church and its ministry have safeguarded this ideal for over 30 years to maintain this community opportunity and have the expectation to see it through for many more to come. Tommy Harrel (a member of the United Methodist Church and Learning Tree volunteer) expressed to WPJ’s reporter his belief in the program and, even more so, the bridge it creates between the church and the community, “Learning Tree’s survival and that of every other child care program before it through the church, to me, shows an emphasis of the congregation’s faith and determination to see the idea behind it all thrive. You don’t want to build a bridge just to walk over it once.”
Despite Learning Tree’s smaller headcount in comparison to its ‘Kid’s World’ era, the program is pushing forward with not only a new director (Kaycie Kile) for the 2023-24 semester but several new initiatives their staff and administrative board are confident will bring the stability necessary to keep the program both relevant and secure as a resource for the community. Initially functioning Monday through Thursday, from 3 pm to 5 pm, the program will retain the same four-day schedule introduced in our district this fall, and for the first time since reestablishing as ‘Learning Tree,’ the program will soon be offering additional opportunities for childcare outside of the school schedule for its families.
Currently, Learning Tree has no open seats within its program as they wrap up summer re-enrollment and address their families about the changes soon to occur. They retain a waitlist and welcome all applications (within the guidelines), though they ask for patience and remind the public that spots are limited. For further information on the program, donations, or application attempts, please call the United Methodist Main Office at (318-628-4181).