Curiosity. Wonder. Friendship.
Founded in 1993 and renamed in 2019, Under The Willows Early Learning has been providing a quality early childhood experience for children and their families for over two decades.
Welcoming children from 18 months of age until their early elementary years; we believe that family and community are an integral part of a child's early learning years. We strive to involve them in the capacity that best suites each family.
We have created a place for children to develop those first crucial bonds and foster friendships, in a community where they are celebrated for their individuality and unique talents. Ours is a distinctive, innovative, and special space, created to put childhood back into the lives of area children.
To ensure a safe, high quality environment we are licensed by the State of Wisconsin, and have voluntarily achieved Accreditation; first by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, followed by the Satellite division of Reach Dane.
Children are innovative and active participants in their growth and development; learning best through the work of play. From language and literacy development, to social skills and creative expression, the children at Under The Willows Early Learning are constantly being exposed to new activities and environments in which to thrive. We build on the strengths and interests of each child to help build a solid foundation where they can continue to develop, grow, and learn.
Our mission is to create a lifelong love of learning, curiosity, and wonder; within a collaborative, welcoming, and safe environment.
"Our task is to help children communicate with the world using all their potential, strengths, languages, and to overcome any obstacle presented by our culture."
Reggio Emilia Inspired
"The Reggio Approach to early childhood education supports children's and adult's well-being. Children's intellectual development is fostered through a systemic focus on symbolic representation. Children are encouraged to explore their environment and express their understanding through multiple paths and all their symbolic "languages". For example: cognitive, expressive, communicative and relational. Children experiment and develop competencies in using spoken language, gestures, drawing, painting, building, sculpting, shadow play, collage, dramatic play, music and emerging writing, to name but a few."
- The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Experience in Transformation
Our Learning Spaces
The spaces in which we live and grow help shape and define us. Here at Under The Willows we invite children into carefully designed spaces, both indoors and outdoors, that will enhance learning and discovery.
Extensive use is made of natural materials both indoors and outdoors. The spaces are designed to stimulate and encourage various learning: cognitive skills, critical thinking, problem solving, memory retention, increased reasoning and improved concentration. The areas we create invite engagement and inquiry, allowing those within to participate in dialog and collaboration.
Within these spaces we have created there is the opportunity to imagine, dream, and build friendships. This is where we play!
"Adults admire their environment; they can remember it and think about it-- but a child absorbs it". - Unknown
Communication and Documentation
Communication and Documentation are at the core of our program. We work hard to keep our program community connected.
By documenting children's days our teachers, families, extended family, and support staff, are all able to stay connected and engage in dialogue. The documentation becomes a portfolio of your child's learning that is able to remain with them as long as you choose. It can also be shared with others in the future, either for educational purposes or as a collection of memories. You are always in control of who can see your child's portfolio as you are able to create your own network by personal invitation.
In our efforts to be progressive with communication and documentation methods, we have partnered with Storypark, at no additional cost to families. We are excited to be able to offer this direct connection here at Under The Willows Early Learning.
The relationship between nutrition, health, and learning is undeniably strong. Nutrition is one of the three major factors that impact a child’s development. In our program, we are committed to providing meals and snacks that help create healthy habits, offers chances to try new foods, and fuel children's minds and bodies.
All meals and snacks are prepared onsite and are offered to all children in attendance. We are committed to buying local, and include a variety of fresh and organic foods when available. Children will have the opportunity to assist in growing food right here in our program. They will be able to taste and use the plants from our own growing plots and flower beds.
Food allergies, intolerance's, and medically necessary dietary needs are taken seriously. Preferences for other reasons are also understood and we wish to respect the rights and needs of individual families to the best of our abilities, whenever possible.
It Takes a Village
"It takes a village to raise a child"- is an African proverb meaning an entire community of people must interact with children, for those children, to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.
At Under The Willows we are part of your child's village. In addition, there are many other services that can be of assistant to the families and children within our community and become a part of your the village as well. From tuition assistance or service referral to family support services, there are a wealth of resources available within Dane County. We are committed to help you find those connections, and support you in the use of those services.
"Play is an expression of our creativity, and play is at the very root of our ability to learn, to cope, and to become whatever we may be."
Hello! I am Dawn Corda, the founder of Under The Willows Early Learning; originally created as a Licensed Family Child Care program on the East Side of Madison, that eventually made its way to Sun Prairie. Since 1993 we have offered families and their children an alternative to large groups and a sea of plastic toys. A space for siblings to spend their days together, and friends to form bonds. As the years have flown by, my passion for Early Childhood Education has deepened; from studying the educational successes in the schools of Reggio Emilia Italy, to the calculated risk taking of Anji Play. From being involved in the positive changes currently being seen in American programs, to educating myself on current research. A continued approach to education, along with collaborating with others in the field, has allowed continued growth and development of our program to meet the ever changing needs of families and their children. One thing that has not changed over the years, is knowledge of the basic fact that children need to play to learn. As this program moves forward after all of the years of education, advocacy, and making a difference in many lives- we will continue to allow children to play. To play is one of a child's basic rights. Here children will continue to be allowed to play, dream, imagine, and learn in a natural and peaceful environment. Thank you to those who have shared their lives and entrusted their children to our care. Welcome to those who wish to embark on a special journey in partnership with us as we move forward into the future. I wish for you all to experience just one moment of carefree play, under a majestic Weeping Willow Tree in your lifetime. It's truly transformative! ~Dawn
“Imagination rules the world”
Dawn was the best provider my daughter and our family ever had the privilege to know. The most important part of Dawn's care was how she involved the parents and communicated with us; something I have never experienced in all the other daycare's or even in grade school. I felt like I always knew how my daughter was doing and that Dawn was really involved just as I would be if I wer spending the day with her. She took the time to identify my daughter's strengths and encouraged her- and identify and weaknesses and provided resources to help. Dawn focused on helping the children feel that they belonged, were loved. I felt that they were all friends and were taught cooperation and to play fair...One of our most treasured belongings is the scrapbook she made for our daughter. Thank you Dawn for being such a wonderful woman and teacher. We will never forget you.
J.P and Daughter
I can not say enough good things about Dawn and [the daycare]. When my son began there at age two, he hadn't been with anyone other than me and his father. Dawn cared for him as she did her own children. My son quickly earned to socialize with the other children, his vocabulary vastly expanded, and he even learned the ABC's within the first couple of months of attending...The preschool type setting helped prepare my son for Kindergarten. I always enjoyed seeing what new elements were brought into the room, as Dawn seemed to change things often so the children could never get tired of their surroundings. The specialized areas of the room made it so that no matter what the age of the child, all could be enjoying something at the same time. We finally needed to and our care situation when our son was entering first grade. Not going to [the daycare] each day was like losing part of our family. And not just for my son, but for me as well. I would recommend Dawn's care to anyone that I knew with children. If I ever have more of my own, she'll be the first person I call.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”