As families in Essex struggle to find daycare, the program for toddlers at Lakeside School is expanding. There are now twelve new places for children between ages 1 to 4 at the daycare program at Black Kettle Farm.

The expansion was approved in early August by the state Office of Child and Family Services. It is called “Farm and Forest Sprouts” – a private not-for-profit school that provides Waldorf-based instruction at Lakeside.

“Lakeside School is now offering enrolment for up to 12 children between the ages of 1 and 4 in its renovated school house on Black Kettle Farm, 10 minutes from the town of Essex,” said Maeve Taylor, the school administrator.

There are two teachers, chickens, horses, goats, flourishing gardens and a nearby forest. The program offers an opportunity for young children to develop their minds and bodies in a nurturing environment.

The school has now moved to year-round childcare and has completed its first summer season.

“With the level of interest we’ve seen in the program, we decided to go year-round,” Taylor said in an interview last week.

The summer curriculum, she said, was successful.

The lead teacher Gina Minessale and her new assistant Jade Sayward are both excited about the school’s growth, with the new school year for Lakeside officially starting on the 11th September.

“The teachers lead the children through a familiar rhythm each day, with snacks, outdoor and indoor play time, nap, chores, singing, reading and homemade meals with ingredients from local organic farms,” Taylor said.

The daycare accommodates to a variety of days: there are five-day, four-day, three-day and two-day options. In addition to this, there are three tuition tiers to suit individual family budget constraints.

“Families visit the classrooms and learn about the program first, and after filing their application, I sit down with each family to figure out which level of tuition would work best for them,” Taylor said.

“We want everyone who is interested to have access to Lakeside School.”

Tuition grants are available to help families afford childcare.

Taylor added: “Beyond the Maple tuition, we then have Tuition Assistance that families can apply for. We try to do as much as possible.

“Lakeside School is able to grant this assistance with huge thanks to our supporters, The Adirondack Foundation, The Essex Community Fund, The Kelsey Trust, the Nancy Johnson Remembrance Fund, the Essex County Adirondack Garden Club, The Eddy Foundation and all of our individual and business supporters both local and around the country.”

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