Small Business Saturday: Little Learners Childcare Center
People that care for other people’s kids – teachers, caregivers, nannies, child care workers – we are just in awe of them. They are such a gift and true blessing to us moms. Just a couple months ago, Amy Kunkel, was a stay at home mama of 3. During her time trying to find a childcare center for her own kids and touring several facilities, she was inspired that she could do it better! That she herself could create a place that children ages 18 months to 4 years old could feel safe, loved, connected to their teacher and their school, and a place parents could afford. So, she created Little Learners Childcare Center by converting a building behind her home into a classroom. Amy is licensed by the state of Texas and although she is licensed to open and run a commercial daycare, she wanted to start small with a home daycare, where she could focus on the kids she had and hug each of them as they come in the door each morning.
We sat down with Amy, to learn about her inspiration behind opening Little Learners, how being a mama herself impacts how she cares for other’s children, and make sure to read to the bottom for a special incentive to Katy Moms Network. And, she still has 5 spots left!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
I was born and raised in Katy until I was about 11 years old. After living a few other places for quite awhile, my family and I have been back in Katy for over 3 years.
Are you a mom, too? How old are your kids and what are their names?
I am a Mom to 3 crazy, beautiful children… Kourtney (7), Klaire (3) and Kase (2).
What did you do before becoming a business owner?
Before opening the childcare center, I was a stay at home mom for the past 7 years.
Tell us about Little Learners Child Care Center! When did you open the doors to Little Learners?
We have been open for just a little over a month! Little Learners Childcare Center is a place you can TRUST, most importantly, and also a place where your child will be loved and will thrive! I am actually certified to open and run a commercial daycare center. I decided to start small, but my Licensed Home Daycare is as close to a commercial daycare center as you can get (and for almost HALF the cost of those chain daycares). We have fully built out a building behind our home as a daycare and it is AWESOME! I take pride in every colorful/fun detail of my center. Truly nothing makes me happier than when those babies come in in the morning and run to hug me!
What was the inspiration behind starting an in-home childcare business?
I enrolled my children in a daycare in the area just to help them be more socialized. We toured several centers and the prices are outrageous and I felt like the care was mediocre. I knew for a fact I could do better… WAY better. And I truly feel like I am making a difference for the children AND the parents.
Caring for other’s children is a BIG and important job, what makes your child care center unique in this field?
I feel like at a lot of other centers (including the one my children attended), are just focused on schedule, schedule, schedule, “lets get this day over with” and the teachers don’t play with the kids or form bonds with them. I try hard to connect with each child so they know that I am here for them and they can always come to me. For example, in the daycare my children attended there were cameras and I would see my daughter following the teachers around to try to tell them something and they would completely ignore her and act like she wasn’t there. I felt like my daughter had no confidence or trust in her teachers and it showed when she always cried at drop off. I am making it my mission to show every child that THEY MATTER.
Tell us about the physical building your center is in. Is it within your home or separate? What was that like converting part of your home?
The center is in the building behind our home. This building was essentially a 3 car garage that was converted to a room and office before it became ours and now we have converted it to a childcare center. Parents have direct access to the center at anytime with a special code so we can keep our center locked at all times for safety.
What ages do you care for?
18 months – 4 years
Do you follow a specific curriculum? What is your main goal with the kids that you care for?
I make my own curriculum. We have a “weekly focus” each week where we focus on a certain color, number, letter and shape. Every day I read them stories, we sing, dance, color and play! I have loved creating fun curriculum for the kids and they seem to love it and are truly learning!
How does being a mom yourself impact your business and how you care for the kids at Little Learners?
Having 3 kids myself, I feel like I truly know what the Parents AND the kids want. Trustworthy, structured, loving care. I love my childcare babies like they are my own.
Best advice for someone wanting to take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship or wanting to open their own business?
I would definitely say to do it. BUT I would also say that it is incredibly hard work but that nothing great comes easy.
Who inspires you most in business and who inspires you most in motherhood?
I am inspired by so many people. MOMS inspire me. Being a stay at home Mom for so many years and experiencing the hardships of that role and now being a business owner and seeing the hardships of this role, I see we all want the same thing at the end of the day. And we work HARD to take care of our families. It is inspiring to see all the different things we Moms do for our families.
How do you balance being a business owner, wife, and mama?
I won’t lie… it’s incredibly tough. But I am slowly learning how to juggle all of my responsibilities. And when I feel like it’s all too much (and trust me, that’s often), I just remind myself how blessed I am. I have prayed for everything I have right now at some point, and it is amazing when I look back and see how far I have come.
Do you experience the dreaded ‘mom guilt’ and if so, how do you deal?
Definitely. I just try to show all of my kids how much I love them and let them know that everything I do is for them, every single day.
Future plans for your business?
Maybe one day I will take the leap and open a commercial center but I am enjoying the journey I am on now.
Any special deals or events our Katy Moms can look out for?
I would like to extend an offer to anyone who becomes interested in the center through Katy Moms Network. If they just mention Katy Moms Network at enrollment, I will give them $35 off their first week + no enrollment fees! We have 5 spots left!