While the holiday break may be a time for children enrolled in the public and private school systems in Storm Lake to take a break from the reading, writing and arithmetic basics they pour over for 180 days each year, there is one place in town where children are still learning life skills throughout the Christmas season.
Young children enrolled at the Gingerbread House, a day care facility located next to East Elementary School on Oates Street in Storm Lake, are continuing to learn and develop motor, communication and relationship skills through a variety of exercises they are engaged in over the Christmas season.
Denise Jennett, who became director of the facility in 2001, said the Gingerbread House is able to give the children it cares for a quality education because of the teachers and aides which work at the day care.
"The people who work here are just amazing in terms of what they do for the children," Jennett said. "They're able to balance giving them activities to do and letting the energy of the kids come out with making sure they get the rest their bodies need during the day. I think they do a fantastic job of helping these children learn and develop every day."
The children, which range in age from infant to five years, are given numerous activities to help encourage cognizance of different communication and motor skills which they will need once they enter kindergarten.
While four and five-year olds cultivate creative minds with Play-doh and learn to share objects such as small dinosaurs and pencils and paper with others, one-year old youngsters are learning how to walk and recognize and respect the space of fellow "classmates" who are also learning dexterity skills.
Kelli Rhiner, who moved from West Des Moines to Newell last year and now oversees three-year olds on a daily basis at the Gingerbread House, said each day with the children brings new challenges - and new opportunities - for her.
"The reason I do this is to be able to share my education to help them develop," Rhiner, who previously ran her own day care in West Des Moines, said. "It's rewarding for me."
Bonnie Engel, who helps with four and five-year olds, echoed Rhiner's thoughts.
"It's great to be able to help these kids grow," Engel said. "It's a lot of work sometimes, but it's very rewarding."