September 24, 2013


New Homer day care center opens

Husband, wife open center for children from 6 months old to pre-K age

DayBob Ellis/staff photographer
Corey and Samantha Wyant play with their son Jacob, 3, during a lunch break at their recently opened Small Hands Day Care in Homer.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — Small Hands Day Care Center on Clinton Street opened last week in an area of the community where child care is in demand.
The new center at 93 Clinton St. enrolls children six weeks to pre-kindergarten aged 5 or 6 years old) with the goal of teaching them how to interact while getting accustomed to the traditional school setting.
When owners Samantha Wyant, a state-certified teacher, and her husband, Corey Wyant, opened the day care center Sept. 16 they already had 10 children — including three of their own — signed up at the center.
The couple said they were looking for a day care center of their own so Samantha could look for a teaching job when the opportunity arose.
“We were looking for a place in Homer and we were driving by and it was vacant,” she said. “Once we walked in ... we realized it could work.”
“We had the money for it and she had the education,” Corey Wyant said. “It kind of all fell into place.”
Samantha Wyant added they had been working since April to ensure Small Hands was not just up to government standards, but up to their standards as parents, as well.
“We were very picky,” Wyant said. “A lot of construction, state inspections, staffing. It’s been a long process.”
There are two other teachers and two assistants, in addition to substitutes, who help teach the children in what Wyant described as a learning-enriched environment.
“They’re all qualified; even our assistants are well educated,” Samantha Wyant said. “We prepare them for kindergarten so they’re not behind when they start. ... As soon as they’re able to learn, they’re learning.”
To achieve this, Small Hands has divided the day care center into three large rooms — a 600-square-foot preschool room, a 700-square-foot toddler room, and 1,300-square-foot infant room — which she said helps to ensure children have enough space to learn and grow.
“Children need their bubble,” Wyant said. “The smaller the room, the more kids bounce off each other. Parents love that we have huge rooms.”
In addition to a productive classroom environment, Small Hands also has an experienced kitchen staff creating healthy meals for the children, which Wyant said is essential to a child’s learning and development.
“There’s no processed foods,” she said. “It’s all healthy and nutritious, which helps to keep the children’s energy up.”
Kristin Herrala of Preble has her associate degree in early childhood education and works with the infants, teaching them motor skills.
Herrala said the decision to work at Small Hands came easy to her because it was something she has always been interested in.
“I love kids,” Herrala said. “I’ve worked in day care in the past and really liked it. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher in a day care.”
Samantha and Corey Wyant said the first week at Small Hands went well, which they attribute to the children having fun and being productive in a safe and warm atmosphere.
“The kids are very comfortable,” Samantha said. “It’s almost like they’ve been here for years.”


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