BALLSTON SPA — Storybook Academy Pre-School, originally opened in 1985 by Kim and Ray Diaz, has been operating under Melanie Edwards’ stellar care since 1997, after teaching with the original owners from 1994 to 1997.
“We’ve really been around preparing children for kindergarten for over 30 years,” Edwards said.
For a 15-week prekindergarten experience, it only costs $60 per week, which breaks down to $4 an hour. The academy accepts up to 20 students, ages three and four, and it is on a firstcome, first-serve basis, with openended enrollment.
“I always want to keep it under a 1:10 teacher student ratio,” Edwards explained.
Storybook Academy’s curriculum is based on kindergarten preparation.
“We believe that to make the transition into kindergarten less stressful for a child, because it can be so shocking and overwhelming, we prepare them for everything that they’re going to see on the kindergarten screening or when they’re enrolled in kindergarten. We start off with simple concepts of the curriculum: the colors, shapes and sizes. Then we get into numbers, letters, and phonics. We want the learning to be fun and exciting for the children, so we don’t make it overly complicated,” Edwards said.
“They are just kids, so they also have a lot of free time playing with toys that are geared toward their fine motor skills, imagination, role playing, and they’ve got a lot of time on the playground. We go on fun field trips where parents can sign up and come along with us. In addition to the regular curriculum, we introduce the children to different things like fire safety, nutrition, dental awareness, and basic manners. It’s not just about the academic curriculum but also learning about everything else that’s so important to life,” Edwards emphasized.
Storybook Academy operates from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday throughout the school year.
“That routine gets them ready for the kindergarten schedule. Children need to know that routine as well, because if they’re enrolled somewhere for only two or three days a week, they’re always asking ‘is there school today? Is there school tomorrow?’ They don’t really have a concept of time at that age,” Edwards said.
“It’s just very rewarding to be with these sweet little beings every day. They haven’t formed all of their concepts and strong opinions, so we get them innocent and pure and we can shape their little minds. We’ve even had a student come back to do a college internship because she was studying early childhood education. I also have a student, who I had years ago, who is now serving in the military and he messaged me a couple months back saying to save a spot for three years because he has a son that he wants to put into Storybook Academy. It’s rewarding every day
but it’s really rewarding when you have all of these people that have such good things to say about you, and that we’ve made such a mark on them as a child that they want to come back and visit and have good memories,” Edwards said.