Stacy Labriola’s home-based care center brings the indoors out
By Alison Rooney
Along with the traditional independent preschools and day care centers in Philipstown, there is another option, New York state-licensed home-based care centers. Technically labeled day care, they are not schools per se, but, according to Loretto Padilla, who runs one such facility, the Wondrous Years, “we do all a preschool does.”
Stacy Labriola, who used to conduct twice-weekly music classes at the Wondrous Years and, with the encouragement of Padilla, branched out and started her own entity, Stacy’s House, agrees. By the description of both women, much nurturing, homespun care is provided alongside the preschool versions of ABCs and math play. This week’s feature takes a look at Stacy’s House, with the Wondrous Years covered in a story yet to come.
Stacy’s House is currently in its second year of operation. Labriola, well-known to many in Philipstown in her various musical incarnations, including “Music and Me” teacher, one-third of the MotherLode vocal trio, private guitar instructor, and other variations on that theme — as well as from her many volunteer contributions to the community — runs the program out of her Garrison home.
The idea germinated as she decided to “take the music classes one step further — Loretto suggested it,” she says. The journey from idea to obtaining the necessary New York state license took some time, but the program has been a success since opening its doors in Labriola’s expansive home and backyard.
A total of 20 children, ages 2 to 5, pass through Labriola’s welcoming door each Monday through Friday, though not all at the same time, as children may attend in any combination of two to five days each week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stacy’s House runs from September through the end of June, following the Garrison School calendar, and extending one week beyond, in June. Snacks and lunches are provided every day.
Children ages 2 to 5 participate in some activities together and then separate off into age-specific endeavors, using different books and levels of games. Field trips are tailored to the different ages too.
Mornings begin with individual free play and transition into a host of more organized activities including art projects — a recent one involved creating Eric Carle-like collages and making books — sorting games, and a reading corner.
Themes are based around letters and are expansive and all-encompassing; for instance, the letter “F” led to face-painting, flags, freeze dancing and feelings, where, Labriola notes, “We talked about how sometimes it’s good to pull into your shell like a turtle and take three deep breaths when something is bothering you.”
Afternoons feature lots of music-related activities, with Labriola’s trusty guitar always on hand. On Wednesdays there is complete Spanish immersion, with programs conducted by Yrma Avellaneda, whom Labriola calls “so popular here; parents with kids here and older kids at Haldane and Garrison School have hired her to run the after-school Spanish enrichment program classes. We are lucky to have her here.”
In addition to Avellaneda, Labriola’s right hand has been teacher Jennifer Young. “I have the best help ever — they are fantastic,” says Labriola.
There is no playground per se at Stacy’s House, but rather the large backyard serves that purpose. “We like to bring what’s working inside outside,” observes Labriola, adding that this includes hula hoops, Spanish games, visits to the “ogre’s house” (a nearby structure, and not a reflection on any neighbors!), digging for treasure, and “the greatest bugs — we don’t need a jungle gym.”
Older children can play parachute games. A large, decorative shed, designed and constructed by artist Simon Draper, serves many purposes; it just happens to be perfectly sized for puppet shows.
Asked what she herself had learned through the course of the first one-plus years of her new venture, Labriola replied, “I have more energy than I thought, and I have learned that you can actually love someone else’s child.”
Most families find Stacy’s House through word-of-mouth. Although currently full, that can change easily and frequently, according to Labriola, so if interested, it is a good idea to get in touch regardless, by emailing Stacy Labriola at [email protected].
This article is part of a series on Philipstown’s nursery and pre-K schools.