The Art of Play Early Learning Center
My name is Kris LeBeau and I am the owner, director, teacher, and creator of the The Art of Play Early Learning Center. With the support of my wonderful husband (Dusty if you are reading this know that I appreciate all you have done to make my dreams come true), family, friends, and the very generous grants and resources from the PA Keys and PennAEYC, I have been able to take my passion and respect for early childhood and create a program that allows children to thrive through authentic and meaningful experiences. My program is a Reggio Emilia based preschool that is child inspired following the emergent curriculum philosophy of teaching and learning.
In the summer of 2021 I was able to celebrate over 20 years in the field of early childhood education and the 13 year anniversary of The Art of Play. My program is accredited holding a STAR 4 rating with Keystone STARS. As an educator, I hold a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from Liberty University and my Pennsylvania state teaching license for Nursery/ Kindergarten. I was also overjoyed and humbled to be a winner of the 2021 Terri Lynne Lokoff Teacher Award recognizing my dedication and work in this field.
I have a deep passion for the outdoors and the positive impact it has on children. I began my journey to create an outdoor classroom when I began seeing the benefits first hand as a teacher and decided to embrace the teaching practices from Finland, Sweden, and Norway and follow their saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. Once I was able to fully engage in nature with the children, I knew that I had to do as much as I could to bring learning outside.
Creating a Nature Explore Classroom not only became a passion for me as a teacher but also a desire as a parent. I have two young boys, Hunter and Ryder, who (like all children) were naturally drawn to the outdoors. It became my mission before they were born to give them an early childhood experience that would foster their growth and development, but once I saw their fascination with nature it became my new mission to be able to foster that growth in the outdoors with the most authentic and child lead environment I could.
I am thrilled to be able to share our Nature Explore space with both my family and the families in my community that I serve. Being able to watch children develop a love of learning alongside a love of nature is both a humbling and heartwarming experience. I am eager to watch my boys grow up in their Nature Explore Classroom as well as to be an early childhood educator in a nature-based preschool program.
“Childhood is that state which ends the moment a puddle is first viewed as an obstacle instead of an opportunity.” -Kathy Williams