By Stefanie Cavender | How many times has someone asked you if you know of a quality, safe preschool where drop-offs are accepted? There is at least one in Beaufort that meets this mom’s harsh quality-control test, and it’s anything but your average ‘daycare facility’. Toddle Town is a half-day preschool and kid gym for local little ones from 18 months thru 6 years, located on Carteret Street in historic Downtown Beaufort. As many of our local business are, it’s a family-operated business, owned by Shelley Kolb, a Beaufort native and former 5th grade teacher at Shell Point Elementary School. In addition to Shelley, her parents and in-laws help teach classes and chaperone field trips, and her older daughters, ages 10 and 8, also help entertain the children.
The doors to Toddle Town opened in 2003, but Shelley stepped in as the new director in 2007 with the idea of raising her own children while providing a quality education to other children. Her philosophy is to expose children to varied learning opportunities and educational and social experiences, as she believes this opens the door to higher level reading, writing, math, science, and social studies retention later in life.
The school is divided into two groups: a toddler group for children ages 2-3, and a preschool group for children ages 4-5. The teachers spend many hours educating children and allowing them to explore through structured and unstructured play, and interaction with loving adults and other curious children. The groups are further split up for small group learning according to ability. The children have play time in Toddle Town’s kid-friendly gym, center time, story time, snack and lunch time, and small group learning every day. They also take advantage of their great downtown location by taking walking trips to the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, The Beaufort County Library, USCB performances, the pumpkin patch at Carteret Street United Methodist Church, and trick-or-treating to other local businesses.
Even if your child does not attend the full-time preschool schedule, which is from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Tuesday through Friday, Toddle Town is a great place to drop your child off for an hour or two in a very safe, indoor, and fun environment. I have taken advantage of this to do anything from a leisurely grocery shopping trip to sitting down for a relaxing breakfast with friends.
Toddle Town also hosts birthday parties and all sorts of play groups, most recently, the Moms of Beaufort. They even hosted a Mom’s Night Out, and removed all of the play equipment so moms could move around easily to check out the many vendors that Toddle Town brought in.
Recently, Shelley decided to utilize the floor above Toddle Town for another passion of hers: children’s consignment. She is meticulous in her record keeping in the consignment store and gives by far the best return in town. If 60% is not enough profit for your used clothes, try consigning at her One Week Kids Sale that gives you an even bigger return. The One Week Boutique runs twice a year and is filled with many quality clothes, toys, and baby equipment. In addition to the consigned items, there are a host of local vendors selling new items. I have volunteered at the last three consignment sales which has allowed me to shop a day earlier than the public. I have also brought home some amazing bargains that even my husband couldn’t argue with me about! The Fall sale begins in a few weeks so start gathering your unwanted baby items and check this link for more information: www.oneweekkidssale.com.
My intention the first time I visited Toddle Town was to simply check out the facility itself. What parent wouldn’t want to find a quality daycare for only $5 an hour? My oldest daughter, Charlize, was 14 months old at the time and I had never left her with anyone except for my parents who live in Bluffton.
I walked in to find the children sitting in a circle on the floor while Shelley reviewed the letter of the day. We were immediately welcomed with a warm hello and invited to sit for awhile. My daughter sat in my lap for a little while, but she eventually left me to explore the dolls on the other side of the room. Although it was not my intention to leave her that day, and I was nervous to run off without my little girl in tow, Shelley encouraged me to do so.
I was gone for only an hour but enjoyed my new found freedom in the comfort of a little place called Toddle Town.