Kara Piattoni will open The School House Learning Center this fall. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

WINDHAM — A new child care center opening this fall is “designed to prepare the whole child” for the future rather than just focusing on academic development. 

Owner and director Kara Piattoni said The School House Learning Center will “provide (children) with all the tools they need to survive in the outside world.”

The center will be located in the building previously occupied by Seavey’s, 421 Roosevelt Trail, and will open Sept. 30. Piattoni is renting the 10,000-square-foot building from Chase Custom Homes, which owns the property and is renovating the building, with plans to purchase it.

Piattoni will offer care for children aged 6 weeks through fifth grade, including full day, before and after school care.

She will focus on nurturing children both inside and outside of the classroom. The School House Learning Center will feature a playground, art studio, movement room, playground, teaching kitchen, learning library and “tinker room” in addition to classroom spaces.

You need to set these young learners up for success by the time they go to school. Academically they may be ready, but the whole child is not ready. Socio-emotionally and sharing and dealing with transitions – all of those are very hard for young children. I love that part of it,” she said. 

Many families have bought into Piattoni’s vision, with some parents signing up to bring their children from Westbrook and Naples.

Piattoni said there is a huge need for infant care in town, while families report that it is generally difficult to find quality child care.

Katherine Young of Portland will bring her 4-month-old baby to Piattoni’s center and said “it’s definitely worth the drive.”

The center is located in the building previously occupied by Seavey’s. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

“There’s so many wait lists, and it’s so hard to find good quality care. I’ve struggled to find something that’s the level of quality care that I’m interested in,” she said. 

Windham Planning Director Amanda Lessard said she has heard from parents that it is difficult to find quality care in the area and that many locations have long waiting lists.

“With our residential development and our population growth, it makes sense that we’re seeing families with younger children who would need child care,” she said. 

Piattoni has not advertised for long but has had a lot of interest in her center.  Initially, it will have the capacity for 90 children, although it will expand in the future. She still has some openings but anticipates being full by the time it is ready to open.

This is a business of trust,” she said. “It’s a big decision when people are choosing a center, so I feel very fortunate that I’ve always provided excellent care and that people have bought into myself and this vision. I’m really excited.”

She has not had trouble finding child care workers, either, something other locations seem to be struggling with. She has hired seven staff members but will hire more as the center grows.

Piattoni hails from New Hampshire and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Joseph’s College. She served as the director of The Gorham House Preschool in Gorham and as the assistant director of The Academy for Active Learners in Portland.

There are a lot of wonderful child care centers, and everyone finds their niche. I want my niche to be teaching the whole child and making them prepared in every facet,” she said. 

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