Happy Ladybug Early Learning Center, in Stapleton since 2007, has moved to a larger space in Aurora to serve more little ones. The child care center previously hosted a maximum of 12 toddlers and preschoolers but now has a capacity for 53.
“We had a long waiting list at the old location and often we couldn’t bring in younger siblings,” said owner Elvan Goksu-Kaya, who began the center in her Stapleton home in 2007. She said Happy Ladybug still has 21 slots open for children ages 1 to 5.
Goksu-Kaya emigrated from Turkey in 2000 and has a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter at Happy Ladybug. “Having a childcare center is my dream,” she said. “Our program combines the best of Turkey and the U.S.—the best of both worlds.”
She said her homeland inspired the healthy food served at Happy Ladybug. “Mediterranean food is very healthy—lots of veggies, fruits and whole grains. We teach the kids about growing your own food and cooking it—not just eating stuff you pop in the microwave.”
“Physical health is most important,” said Program Director Katie McDonald. “We partner with Revolution Foods, which delivers fresh, 100 percent natural lunches every morning. They are not packaged food and there are no additives.”
Happy Ladybug’s program combines education with a social-emotional approach. “If a child is not comfortable emotionally, or has no tools to interact, she can’t learn,” said Goksu-Kaya. “We make sure kids understand their emotional state and express their needs in a proper way: to say ‘I’m mad because you took my toy,’ instead of hitting. We empower their social skills and their confidence. It eliminates chaos in the classroom.”
Happy Ladybug employs the Read, Play and Learn curriculum developed at the University of Denver. “Every morning we read a book and all activities that day—science, math and literacy—are related to the book,” said Goksu-Kaya. “For example, the preschoolers read a book about ‘things that move.’ For math, they made a parking lot and numbered the spaces from one to 20, then numbered their Hot Wheels cars and parked them in the correct spaces. For science, they built ramps of varying heights for the cars to go down and charted the results. Whose car went fastest and why? For literacy, they talk about what they are doing.”
“The kids learn fast because they don’t know they’re learning,” said McDonald. “They’re just having fun.”
Goksu-Kaya said they don’t teach preschoolers to read “because research shows their brain development is not ready to read yet. We prepare them for kindergarten.”
Happy Ladybug’s new space is at 9635 Montview Blvd. (at Dallas St.). “It’s close to Stapleton and the Anschutz Medical Center and it’s easy to get downtown,” said McDonald. “The space is light and airy and it encourages community. Everyone knows everyone.”
For more information, call 303.333.5492, see happyladybug.com or email Goksu-Kaya at firstname.lastname@example.org.