A child’s brain triples in size during the first three years of life and absorbs more information during that period than at any other time. Further, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age five. During this time, a child is prepared for all future experiences, interpretations, and critical thinking in their upcoming lives. This early stage in a child’s life establishes the basis for confidence, understanding, and independence, as well as a joy for learning.

As parents, we can incorporate this knowledge into our everyday routines, to enhance and fulfill the needs of our developing children, starting at birth. We can set up a learning environment right in our homes that provides rich discovery and exploration and lays the necessary foundation for all future learning. Children learn while they play.

I didn’t realize I had this answer until I started scheduling play dates with other moms who constantly asked questions about what I was doing, why, and how. They would marvel at my children’s playroom and the toys I had for them. Their children would enter eagerly and get right to play.

I could easily have six children in my playroom at one time, all busy and having fun without conflict, which usually turned into an elaborate game or play scenario, like pretending to run a restaurant. After one visit with another mother of three, who asked if I would show her how to set up her home, I decided to blog on the topic. This led to writing articles for Bay State Parent magazine, and finally this book.

I grew up in a perfect storm. It was loud and chaotic but full of excitement and energy every day. I grew up in an early learning center that my mother started when I was two years old. I was a student, participant, observer, helper, and facilitator, and eventually worked in the center. I did everything from creating activities, painting, and cleaning in the summers, to filling baggies of treats on different holidays.

I grew up exposed to and part of every scenario you could imagine, ranging from observing behavioral problems to developing techniques to improve them. I also worked with bilingual children who couldn’t speak English to engage children in fun activities using homemade Play-Doh. My childhood was full of limitless, complex, and rich opportunities for learning. If I wanted to “play,” I could go outside to the 12,000-square-foot playground or into the 2,000-square-foot preschool, set up with learning centers, attached to our home.

There were always other children playing and friends to socialize with. I was fortunate in my youth to have such freedom to explore and discover in any play area at any time. My favorite areas were the doll house corner, slide-house climbing structure, indoor bike riding area, a massive stand-up indoor sandbox, and a real stage where I would set up elaborate cities of Fisher Price houses and Playskool People. Before the age of seven, I had been exposed to more opportunities for learning than most children ever have.

As a child, my world was Busy Bees Preschool Center. My mother’s life revolved around research, learning, and building a top-notch program. Her teaching style evolved based on the newest research, proven techniques, and ways to maximize opportunities for learning.

My mother, Cecile Tousignant, sold her successful business after thirty-five years. Her business had started as a part-time center but became one of the leading schools in the area, and still is to this day. My mother now consults for the state and other private programs, including her old center. I witnessed and absorbed all this growing up in a preschool. To this day, people of all ages who attended my mother’s preschool stop her to recall memories about their time at Busy Bees.
I remember my years in preschool over any other grade, even college. I remember details as though it were yesterday. I remember being three years old and playing the farmer’s wife in a nursery rhyme performance of The Three Blind Mice. I remember walking up my street in a parade as a stuffed pumpkin. The preschool was my little world, a safe place to create my own reality with all the right toys.

From the age of two through my college years, I absorbed every facet of early childhood and the details of running a center, from being the student in the curriculum to running it. I experienced most techniques and practices without even realizing it until I became a parent myself.

I incorporated this knowledge into my home and the everyday lives of my children, and continue to do so in many ways, even though my children are now 14, 12, and 11.

I consciously replicated the experiences of my childhood to provide my children with similar experiences. I used similar toys and spaces to explore and encouraged them to be physically active and creative. I staged a home where they could learn and develop.

Even children who eventually attend a full-day preschool spend more time at home than anywhere else, and by setting up the right types of play, you too can create your own home of learning!

The paperback version of Create a Home of Learning is available at Amazon, your favorite bookseller or

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