Two years ago, Elira Xhelo began her journey in opening her first business – Bradford Children’s Academy.
With a background in psychology and working with special-needs children, Xhelo said she was passionate about creating a daycare centre that fit to each and every child’s individual needs.
“I believe that you should make the environment to fit the child and not the child to fit the environment, so that was part of the philosophy that we developed for our academic program,” she explained.
She thought Bradford West Gwillimbury would be the perfect location to set up her centre, as the community is full of young families and continuously growing. Xhelo currently lives in Aurora, but is planning to make the move to Bradford soon.
“Bradford always attracted me as a really lovely town… Bradford is like one community that brings everyone together,” she said.
Xhelo, along with her centre supervisor, Amanda Ventura, are working hard daily so they will be able to open their doors sometime in April. They said they are excited to welcome families to their brand new space.
“We don’t have a set date because we are trying to do everything perfect,” said Xhelo. “We are working with the Ministry of Education to make sure we follow all the guidelines.”
The centre will aim to provide children with child care as well as an educational experience, using teaching philosophies from Dr. Maria Montessori, the Reggio Emilia Approach and the play-based learning model. Xhelo said these methods all fall under the same umbrella of learning.
“It’s a centre that will focus on the individual needs of each child to learn and also be part of the community, be a nurturing place for the children, as well be a place where parents feel comfortable to leave their children and go to work,” she said.
The daycare will have a capacity for 112 children. There will be six classrooms: one infant, two toddler, two preschool and one kindergarten.
Xhelo and Ventura have hired some of their staff of 20, which includes teachers, assistants and an in-house chef, but they are still actively interviewing until all positions are filled.
Fresh, home-cooked meals are one thing Xhelo and Ventura are excited to offer the children. Xhelo believes food can really affect a child’s behavior and mood.
“Food is very important, especially for children. It helps their learning,” she said.
From the granite sinks, to stainless steel kitchen appliances, Xhelo said she put a lot of effort into the design and décor of the space. The walls are painted in bright, fun colours, the ceilings are high, and all the classrooms have large floor-to-ceiling windows.
“We try to use the space in a way that will benefit the children… the classrooms, we did them as big as we could,” she said.
The daycare will offer various enrichment programs including French, music and yoga lessons. Xhelo said the children will be learning using the latest technologies, including a large interactive smartboard. There is also a 232-square-metre outdoor space for the children to play in daily (weather permitting).
Each teacher will have his or her own tablet with the program Hi Momma installed on it, which allows communication with the kids’ parents throughout the day.
The centre is already meeting with potential families and pre-registering students. Xhelo welcomes all interested families to contact her as she is happy to show people what her centre has to offer.
“There is a higher demand than we anticipated originally, but we are going to plan it as well as we can… We want to accommodate everyone.”
The centre will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with both part-time and full-time spaces available.
“It’s a long process, but it’s very rewarding,” Xhelo said.