An early childhood enrichment studio, which opened in town last month, offers families a fresh approach to their child’s first educational experience.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
An early childhood enrichment studio, which opened in town last month, offers families a fresh approach to their child’s first educational experience. Little Learners, in the Arcade Building, provides 3- to 5-year-olds with kindergarten prep classes and fun, interactive workshops. For parents, design-to-learn consultations are intended to enhance a child’s space at home.
“A stimulating, rich learning environment is needed so a child will blossom,” explained founder and director Abbey Lombardo-Kumar. “The aesthetic impacts the overall development of a child.”
The attractive, boutique-like Little Learners studio is certainly inviting for parents and kids alike. Lombardo-Kumar designed the space with a soothing palette and attractive furnishings. One enters a spacious showroom with chandeliers, a plush settee and an arched floor-to-ceiling window that faces the village green. An art room and classroom are equally engaging with miniature furnishings, bold mirrors and plenty of accessible educational materials.
She transformed the space with the invaluable help of her father, Keith Lombardo, a general contractor when he’s not working as a high school guidance counselor. As a matter of fact, she comes from a family of educators. Mother Cindy is also a guidance counselor, while her brother Dustin is a therapist. Her husband, Nik Kumar, is Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment at Manhattanville College, where she earned her Master’s in Educational Studies, as well as her undergraduate degree.
Her interest in early childhood education sprouted when she was a high school student working with underprivileged kids during the summers. “It was an eye-opening experience. I was able to make a connection with the children,” she recalled. “There are simple things in life that bring so much joy no matter a child’s gender, the context, whether it’s a camp or school, or the socio-economic level. Children deserve the opportunity to explore, imagine, and take an active role in their education.”
The Little Learners director has spent the last ten years honing her craft. One of her early teaching experiences included a stint at Rye Presbyterian Nursery School.
“I credit Cheryl Flood [Director] for helping me see a different side of education, blending the traditional learning standards and teacher directives with the child-centered philosophy that proposes children learn through their experiences,” she explained. “As teachers, we’re responsible for facilitating those experiences and fostering a love of learning and a sense of independence. My program reflects a balance.”
Having also worked as the Assistant to the Head of Nursery Division at Horace Mann School, as well as the Pre-School Director at the Chapel School in Bronxville, Lombardo-Kumar was poised to implement her initiatives in her own learning center.
“I chose Rye because it’s a warm, family-centered community and people understand the value of an early education,” she observed.
Both the Little Learners’ Prep class for 3- and 4-year-olds and Kinder Prep for 4- to 5-year-olds combine direct curriculum instruction with discovery play and hands-on learning. The first session starts October 22. Enrollment is still open.
Designed to enrich a child’s general preschool experience, there are also Workshop Wednesday sessions and a Musical Movers program, taught by Rye Presbyterian Nursery School teacher Kristin Kumar, her sister-in-law.
Based on a fair number of inquiries from interested parents she is also offering a new class, Little Learners Wee Ones, for ages 6-12 months. “We can only accommodate five parents/caregivers in this class right now, but thought it was worth giving it a trial run.”
Lombardo-Kumar’s innovative Design-to Learn service for parents who want to provide a more functional educational space at home is entirely customizable. Upon visiting a family, she makes play space evaluations pertaining to a child’s development and makes recommendations in accordance with the NYS Standards for Learning. For more information, call 925-9111 or email Abbey@littlelearnersstudio.com.