Introducing Sonshine Children’s Academy

Published 3:46 pm Monday, May 4, 2020

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On Feb. 10, Sonshine Children’s Academy opened their doors.
The childcare facility is run by Shelly Smith, a former teacher and former director of Shining Star’s Christian Learning Center in Johnson City.
Smith said once a leasing issue arose and closed the learning center, she was encouraged to open her own facility by Guy Hardin, who had owned the learning center.
The facility has a capacity to hold 60 children. There are currently 21 enrolled. While it was previously serving ages 12 months to five years of age, school aged children to the age of 12 are also now able to be enrolled.
“Once everything opens back up, they are going to re-license me,” said Smith. “That way my license will say 12 months to 12 years of age, so I will be licensed for school-aged children also.”
The facility is Christian based, and includes various educational activities for children.
While COVID-19 had an impact of around five students previously being taken out of the facility due to parents losing jobs, Smith said the impact has not been too bad for the facility. Guidelines are in place.
“No parents are allowed past the front foyer. We bring children in and out to assist with this and limit the amount of adults that are entering the facility,” she said. “All staff wear masks daily. Temperatures are checked again at 2 p.m. after the children’s nap. Toys, tables, chairs, etc. are bleached three times daily now, and lots of prayers that God will keep us all safe.”
According to Smith, she became involved in childcare to help children at an early age.
“I think what drew me more to childcare was, technically when I was teaching, by the time they reach first, second or third grade, it wasn’t early enough, and you keep wanting to go back to see if you can help and in the school system can’t go backwards or get them any younger,” she said. “I went back to school and took my clinical practicum to do child care, and I started learning about Tennessee Early Learning Intervention Systems and things like that. People don’t realize, but children at one to three years old, if you know children well enough and you’ve been educated, there are a lot of things you can catch and help.”
Smith said that while many may see childcare as unnecessary or too expensive, it can be beneficial to children before they begin school.
“Childcare can be expensive, but in this day in age, there is a lot children are expected to know when they go into kindergarten,” she said. “I at least want people to know that if you choose not to do childcare, try and find a head start or pre-k program. Just three or four hours a day of trying to acclimate your child to a classroom setting, with basic skills from lining up and learning to listen and when to talk and interact with peers, they learn those skills so quickly. But if they are never in a program like that before kindergarten, it really is hard and difficult for them to go straight into kindergarten and be a part of something like that.”
The facility is open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Prices per week are as follows: $165 for 12 month olds, $160 for two year olds, $155 for three year olds, $150 for four and five year olds, and $120 for school-aged children.
For more information on Sonshine Children’s Academy, you can go to their Facebook page, or call 423-297-1073 for enrollment information.

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