Ocean City Today
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Watch Me Grow celebrates recent opening this Sat.

By Josh Davis | May 11, 2017
Photo by: JOSH DAVIS / OCEAN CITY TODAY Allison Stokely, with children Aleesi, 3, and Landon, 20 months, recently opened Watch Me Grow, a new early learning center in Berlin. The center, on 9040 Worcester Highway, Suite E, behind Pitt Stop Beer and Wine, will have a grand opening on Saturday with free activities for children, as well as and information on classes.

(May 12, 2017) Watch Me Grow, a new early learning center in Berlin on 9040 Worcester Highway, Suite E, behind Pitt Stop Beer and Wine, will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday.

The free event, 1-4 p.m., will include moon bounces and children’s crafts and snacks. Lollipop the Clown will offer face painting and balloon art from 1:30-3 p.m. and horse rides will be available from 3-4 p.m. Shaved ice treats from the Tiki Hut will be available for sale.

Owner Allison Stokely operated the Tiny Sunflowers Daycare center out of her home for 12 years, but decided to close to devote more time to her two young children, Aleesi, 3, and Landon, 20 months.

“My son is severely high maintenance,” she said with a laugh. “I couldn’t do the hours anymore. It just got to be too much with two little ones at home.”

Instead, Stokely will offer specialized summer programs at the new center that focus on getting children, ages 2 and up, getting ready for school through fun and activities.

Classes, lasting just under two hours each, will be offered on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“Nowadays with daycare, the kids need to know their alphabet and they need to be able to count and need to be able to write their names and tie their shoes, all before they get to kindergarten or preschool,” Stokely said. “That’s just too much. I’m seeing more and more kids having more and more difficulty doing what you’re supposed to do in school. By the time they hit second or third grade they’re tired of it because they have to start [school] at 2 or 3.”

Stokely said her daughter went to the Children’s Book Garden, near Ocean Pines over the summer and “they just did wonders with her.”

“They did a craft a day. They did story time. They sang. They danced. And that’s the only place around here that’s really doing anything like that,” Stokely said. “I was trying to put something near the Town of Berlin to serve the Buckingham and the Worcester Prep area because there’s not a lot around here.”

Children will not do much “paper pushing” at Watch Me Grow, Stokely said. Classes each month will have a theme, starting with “Camping Underneath the Stars” in June.

“There will be an activity set up for them as they arrive in the morning, and then we’ll have a circle time with a morning exercise and a little song, and then they’ll get to do a group activity and a craft,” Stokely said. “My goal is that every day they leave with something that’s handmade.”

Classes will also include story time and a snack, as well as a free-play session during the last 15 minutes.

The classroom has dozens of different things for small children to play and interact with, geared especially toward early learning and development. Several hand-painted murals adorn the walls, along with a sizable bookshelf filled with Dr. Seuss and other children’s classics.

The idea, Stokely said, is to keep the little ones busy.

“Kids really learn more by playing than by you constantly pushing papers and pencils and crayons,” Stokely said. “By the time the kids get to school, they’re so worn out that they don’t care to learn anything. Kids aren’t being able to be kids anymore – that’s why there are so many learning disabilities and behavior problems. I think they’re pushing it too much.”

Classes are offered every day in May, except Sundays. Watch Me Grow is also offering a six-week cake and cupcake decorating class starting on June 7. The class, $90 in advance or $100 on the first day, runs Tuesday nights from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and will include basic technique and lessons in making homemade icing.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/watchmegrow.handsonlearning or call 410-430-9156.

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