By Luke Baynes
Sometimes, big dreams lead to small wonders.
At least that’s the case with 36-year-old Carrie Haselton, who spent half her life working in daycare facilities before opening Small Wonders Infant & Toddler Center on Jan. 2.
“It’s my first time owning,” Haselton said. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for years and started looking into about three years ago.”
Small Wonders is located at 44 North Williston Road, in the basement of Williston Federated Church. It’s the same location previously occupied by Williston Children’s Center, which closed its doors on Oct. 19.
Haselton, who worked at the Child Care Resource-owned Williston Children’s Center for six years, has a child care philosophy based on letting kids be kids.
“I think children really need to be respected in order (for them) to give respect back,” she said. “I believe that they should also be trusted, and that they do a lot of their learning from natural events that happen through their curiosity throughout the day. So I think a lot of our learning here has been happening, and will continue to happen, through natural processes.”
A typical day at Small Wonders begins at 7:15, when parents begin dropping off children aged 6 weeks to 36 months old. Multi-age play ensues until 8:30, when children break off into classrooms for activities that focus on fine motor skills. A morning snack precedes a trip to the great outdoors (barring inclement weather or temperatures below 20 degrees), often involving walks on the bike path and nature trails in Williston Community Park. Lunchtime is followed by naptime, followed by playtime, until parent pickup in the late afternoon.
Throughout the day, children are constantly learning, be it as simple as counting birds in the sky or as complex as coming to grips with oneself and one’s fellow man.
“They’re really learning social skills and how to be with other people and be respectful of one another,” Haselton said. “I think that’s the best base that you can give any child.”
Small Wonders currently has seven children and three child care providers, including Haselton. She plans to add two more staff members as the business grows to maintain staff-to-child ratios of 3-to-1 for children under 2 years old and 4-to-1 for 2- and 3-year-olds.
“You can connect more with the children,” Haselton said of her reason for maintaining more individualized child care. “It just feels better for everyone. I’ve worked in centers where they max out the ratios as much as they can and it’s just not quality care.”
Haselton admitted that her business has started slowly and will require time to grow. But that’s just fine for the Hinesburg native and current Milton resident, who recognizes that small business success, like successful child care, requires patience.
“In this business, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you don’t make the children your first priority, eventually it’s not going to be successful,” she said. “You can’t be in this business for the money. You have to be in it for the love of it and for the love of the children.”