Preschool & Kindergarten Registration Open for 2020/2021

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Letter from your Teachers...

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March 18, 2020

Dear CLC Families,

We want to thank you for your flexibility and understanding as we determined what actions to take this week in the face of the current pandemic. We greatly appreciate your help in taking every precaution to keep our community healthy and safe. During this hectic time, we want to provide you with some tools and tips to help your child/ren during this break from school. By the end of the week you will also receive an activity box by your front door. Please note that we were careful to wash our hands before preparing the boxes. We understand that not all of you will be staying home with your child/ren over the next two weeks. Please share this letter with whoever will be watching your child/ren. We address these letters to “families” because we know that children are raised by their village. It is in times like these that we must reach out to rely on that village – while also staying home and social distancing. It is a tricky time!


How you choose to communicate to your child about this break from school and social distancing is, of course, up to you. We recommend being honest, clear, and keeping things simple. Something like this:

“There is a very contagious virus called Coronavirus. Most children won’t get sick from it, but older people and sick people can get very sick from it. Because of this, it is very important that we take care of our community by staying home for a few weeks. If we do go out of the house, we must wash our hands before and after touching things that other people might touch. We also have to cover our coughs and sneezes with our arm to keep everyone healthy. After a few weeks at home it will be time to go back to school.”


One of the best things you can do for your child/ren is to set a routine. They experience a routine every day when at school and having that assurance of knowing what is next will help your child/ren be at ease during this period of unknown. If you have a calendar on hand, share it with your child/ren to show how time passes. In the morning, discuss what the plan is for the day – this will help in establishing the routine. Plans change, and children are incredibly flexible and resilient, but discussing the plan for the day, and checking in throughout the day to remind your child/ren about that plan, will ease anxiety and make for smoother transitions.

A visual daily calendar is perfect for our 3 to 5 year olds. Consider spending some time today or tomorrow to create one. Included in this letter are some ideas that you can incorporate into your child’s routine.

Screen Time

The term screen time is used to refer to the time a child spends alone looking at a screen (i.e. TV, IPad, phone, etc.). We strongly suggest limiting screen time to an hour a day in the afternoon. Evidence-based research shows that more than an hour of screen time a day for 3 to 5 year olds is harmful to their development. We also understand and fully empathize with the need that many families have to work from home, get chores done, and have some adult time. These are extraordinary times, and screen time may be necessary for your sanity, so please do not stress if your child/ren are getting more than an hour. Not all screen time is equal. Watching a movie together as a family, for example, is not bad. When it comes to screen time, the research shows that the issue is when the screen is replacing human interaction, creativity, and physical activity.

We hope that the ideas in this letter will be helpful screen time alternatives.

Outside Time

Go outside every day. Fresh air keeps us healthy and connected to the environment and world around us. This looks different for every family. You can play in a backyard, take a walk around your neighborhood or go on a hike in the woods. When doing these, be mindful of the amount of people in that environment. Look around for some off-the-beaten-path hiking spots. Connecticut has many great forest parks that have few visitors. It’s also seed-starting time. If you have soil and seeds on hand, you can begin that process with your child – egg cartons are perfect containers for starting seeds. Measure and record their size as they grow.

Some outdoor play ideas:

  • Create an outdoor treasure hunt hiding little trinkets outdoors.
  • Do a messy painting project – splatter paint a piece of plywood or old canvas.
  • Set up an obstacle course.
  • Use the nature scavenger hunt sheet in your activity box to identify and find bugs, plants, and flowers.
  • Place paper on the ground outside and trace the shadows.

Connection with Friends

To stay connected with CLC friends, your child/ren are encouraged to make pictures for their peers and teachers. Snap a photo of your child/ren holding up their picture and text it to their friend. In our activity kits, we are including a list of each child’s name in your class to aid in this process. You can use this to practice identifying letters and spelling peers names, or writing names if your child is ready for that step. Make positive use of technology by having FaceTime/Google Hangouts/Skype calls with friends. Children can share the art they made for their peers in this way, or tell each other stories. Try setting up a Story Time share with another family. For 15 minutes one parent can read a story to their child/ren and your child/ren over FaceTime/Google Hangouts/Skype. The next day you read a story! It’s like a community story train.

Read, Read, Read

You will find a Reading Log in your activity box – use it to write down all of the books you read with your child/ren over these next few weeks. When you return we will have a special party to celebrate all the stories that children read while on break. At the CLC reading takes many forms – teachers read books out loud, children look at books alone in the cozy corner / reading nook, children and teachers do dramatic retelling of storiesusing props and puppets, and children create their own storybooks. Creative literacy activities include:

1. Create a shadow puppet theatre using a cereal box. A tutorial can be found here:

2. Children love writing and mailing letters. Make sure to wash your hands first! Write a letter to a friend – let your child write their message on one side of a card and scribe what your child says on the other side. Stamp and address the letter and put it in the mailbox.

3. Create costumes using old clothes and act out the story. Record it and share it with us and your child’s peers!

4. Do a story telling circle – one person starts the story, the next person continues it, the next person adds to it. Each person says one line of the story. Record it and write it down as your child/ren create the story. This lends itself to so much laughter!

Real Work = Math & Science Learning

Snack and meal time are perfect opportunities for practicing math skills, and children often love helping in the kitchen. Children can help you measure, mix, peel, chop, and wash, practicing and developing fine motor and math skills as they do so. Children can help set the table, counting out how many plates and forks are needed, and clear the table, helping to fill the dishwasher. This is something most of the children do at the CLC on a weekly basis.

Other math and science learning ideas:

  • Sort socks into pairs
  • Sort materials by color
  • Measure, record, and compare the size of objects around the house
  • Hypothesize, observe, and record what toys sink and what toys float in the bath

Collect! Please consider collecting and sorting certain recycled and natural materials to bring back to school. Collections are a great way to develop math and science skills. Some materials worth collecting: bottle caps, small yogurt containers, rocks, pinecones.

Art and Sensory Exploration

At the CLC almost all of our lessons happen through hands-on projects that usually look like art and/or sensory play. We use recycled materials in almost every art project. Creating a devoted space in your house where your child is allowed to get messy can help this process. There are a million ideas out there for art projects, so here are just some ideas for how to facilitate the process in the easiest way possible:

1. Lay an old sheet on a section of the floor in your house (do this outside on a nice table).

2. Place a table on top of the sheet. Cover table in newspaper.

3. Put out 3-4 art materials. For example: paint, sponges, paper. Another example: small

recycled materials, glue, cardboard box.

4. For messier projects, find a shallow plastic bin. Place materials in the plastic bin.

5. Let child/ren explore and get messy and create whatever they create.

Art projects can also be more focused and directed by an adult or older sibling. Here are some ideas:

• Make musical instruments using recycled materials

• Create a shadow puppet theatre

• Make kites using sticks, paper, glue, and string


Free Play is the Work of Children

It goes without saying, but we will say it anyway, free play is so important for young children. It is how they learn. Whether it be what we call “real world / dramatic play” – essentially pretending to be grown ups using dress up clothes and props – or “small world / building” – creating structures out of blocks and tubes, cars, trucks, trains, small animals and people, doll houses, doll house furniture, etc. – children are learning as they play, especially as adults play with them. It is inevitable that children will get bored playing alone. Boredom is usually the feeling that comes right before a new idea hits and suddenly children are deep in their imaginary worlds. When your child expresses being bored, let them sit in that feeling for a little while before jumping in to fix it. See what happens. Also, as much as possible, try to play with your child/ren. We understand how difficult this can be when you are navigating working from home, parenting multiple children, or passing childcare responsibilities on from one family member to another.

One tip to provoke play: while your child is sleeping, consider rotating toys – i.e. take some toys out of their play area, and introduce something new to their play area such as some cleaned out yogurt containers, a big cardboard box, non-breakable bowls and spoons… get creative.

These extra 10 minutes preparing their play space can transform how a child plays.

Gross Motor Play

This also goes without saying – children need to move their bodies in BIG ways. Rough housing is really important. Try to create time for it every day. This can happen during free play time and/or outside. Creating intentional time for big movement activities will help children settle down during those quieter times of the day. Morning and evening dance parties are a great way to get out all that extra energy!

Suggested Daily Schedule

*Timing is very flexible based on your plans for the day and needs as a family*

7 – 8 Wake up/ Dress/ Breakfast

8 – 10 Indoor Free Play

10 – 11 Morning Snack, Story Time, and Art Activity

11 – 12 Outdoor Adventure

12 – 1 Lunch

1 – 3 Story Time, Yoga, Nap and/or Quiet Activities

3 – 4 Afternoon Snack and Art Activity

4 – 6 Indoor Free Play

6 – 7 Dinner

7 – 8 Bath / Bedtime Prep

About “Falling Behind”

Preschoolers learn through free play, meaningful interactions with adults, and real life and hands-on experiences. Your children have gotten almost a full year of that. They are all doing fabulously and will be successful whenever they return to school. There is no pressure to teach your child anything in particular while they are home.

If you do want to continue with their academic learning, we are sending home their DOTS assessment binders. Feel free to refer to the assessment standards and create learning activities related to the standards. Feel free to add samples of their work to the binders!

If you would like to learn more about the CT Early Learning Developmental Standards here is the link to the digital copy:

And here is the link to DOTS (the assessment tool we use):

We were just about done getting through the whole alphabet. We had two more letter to learn all about: Y & Z ! Feel free to introduce and practice identifying and writing these letters.

If you do want to continue with your child’s academic learning, we will be sending out optional weekly lesson plans to follow along with beginning next week.

Other Resources

  • The Regional Multicultural Magnet School has an evening Story Time at 7 p.m. – find them on Facebook.
  • List of education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings:
  • Shark Story Hour Every Day @ 10 a.m. – join on Facebook Live by following Atlantic White Shark Conservancy on Facebook.
  • Beginning March 16 FREE BREAKFAST & LUNCH grab and go meals to ANY child, 18 years old or younger Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Pick up: NLHS Multi-Magnet Campus, Winthrop STEM Elementary Magnet School, BDJ Multi-Magnet School Campus, and Harbor Elementary School
  • Go Noodle & Cosmic Kids Yoga are *active* screen time resources
  • NatGeo Kids is an excellent resource for educational videos.

Hand Washing

And of course, practice good hand washing! The NAEYC and Ledge Light handwashing routine is the following: turn on water, get soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse, paper towel, turn off water.


If you need support of any kind, do not hesitate to reach out. We can all be reached by e-mail.

Stay healthy,

Ms. Ashley, Ms. Kelsey, and Ms. Martina


In response to the growing COVID-19 global health crisis, and in the best interest of our students and the public, The Children’s Learning Center is currently closed until further notice. 

In response to the growing COVID-19 global health crisis and in the best interest of our students and the public, The Children’s Learning Center will close as of Wednesday, March 18, 2020 through at least Monday, April 13, 2020. 

Welcome to the Children’s Learning Center!

Preschool and Kindergarten Classes are currently full for 2020/2021, but we are accepting applications for our waitlist. To register for the waitlist, please complete and submit just the 2020/2021 Registration Form; no registration fee to register for the waitlist.

About the Program and Educational Philosophy

The Children’s Learning Center at Mitchell College has a curriculum nested in its environmentally rich surroundings. Based on principles that make children partners in the learning process, the curriculum is driven by each child’s unique curiosity.

Reggio Emilia Approach

At the Children’s Learning Center, children’s unique ideas, interests, and needs drive the learning process. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, our program believes that children construct their own learning, express themselves, and make sense of their world through many “languages”. Our program provides children access to a wealth of open-ended materials and hands-on experiences to learn from. 

Learning from the Natural World

Children learn through exploration of the world around them. The natural and urban environment are an extension of our classrooms. Every day children spend multiple hours adventuring through Mitchell Woods, Mitchell Beach, the college campus and our local neighborhood.

Learning through Play

At the Children’s Learning Center, children are active participants in their learning. Through independent and collaborative play, children’s unique ideas and questions emerge, shaping the classroom investigations. Investigations lead to discoveries, which lead to more inquiry, and further exploration.

Laboratory School

In partnership with the Teaching & Learning and Human Services Cores, Mitchell College students are actively engaged in the Children’s Learning Center as researchers, interns, and assistant teachers. This partnership ensures that our program maintains an innovative approach that incorporates best practices in the fields of human development and early childhood education. To learn more about Mitchell College’s degree options, visit

Hours & Typical Day

For the 2020/2021 school year, The Children’s Learning Center at Mitchell College will be open Monday through Friday from 7:00am until 6:00pm with:

  • Full Day hours from 8:00am until 4:00pm (before and after care included in tuition)
  • Half Day hours from 8:00am until 1:00pm (limited before and after care is $10 per hour per child)
  • Before Care from 7am-8am
  • After Care from 4pm-6pm

You may choose either M-F Full Day program or M-F Half Day program.

Typical Preschool Day

  • Outdoor Play
  • Morning Meeting
  • Free Play & Atelier
  • Snack
  • Outdoor Classroom & Enrichment
  • Afternoon Meeting
  • Lunch & Half Day Departure
  • Rest Time
  • Story & Snack
  • Outdoor Play

Typical Kindergarten Day

  • Self-Directed Learning
  • Morning Meeting
  • Tinker Time
  • Snack
  • Outdoor Investigation
  • Writers Workshop
  • Afternoon Reflection
  • Lunch & Half Day Departure
  • Yoga & Relaxation
  • Outdoor Adventures


2020/2021 School Year

Preschool and Kindergarten Classes are currently full for 2020/2021, but we are accepting applications for our waitlist. To register for the waitlist, please complete and submit just the 2020/2021 Registration Form below; no registration fee to register for the waitlist.

School Year: August 31, 2020 – June 18, 2021
*Note: Children turning 3 by January 1, 2021 may begin preschool on September 1, 2020.

2021 Summer Program: June 21, 2021-August 20, 2021


Registration fee (non-refundable): $50

Materials fee (yearly) : $40

Full Day Rate per week per child (includes before and after care): $240

Half Day Rate per week per child: $155

Additional fee per week for a child in diapers: $10

10% discount for more than one child; discount applied to the higher priced tuition

Other discounts & financial aid may be available


Download 2020/2021 Registration Form
Download 2020/2021 Health Assessment Form
Download 2020/2021 Financial Responsibility Form

Download 2020/2021 Financial Aid Application


Download 2020/2021 School Year Calendar
Download 2020/2021 Family Handbook 


Complete and submit all required forms with non-refundable $50 registration fee.

Check made payable to:
“Mitchell College” with “CLC” in the memo
Children’s Learning Center at Mitchell College
437 Pequot Avenue
New London, CT 06320


2019/2020 School Year

Classes are currently full for 2019/2020, but we are accepting applications for our waitlist. Please contact us at 860-701-5348 to schedule a tour.

School Year: August 26, 2019 – June 19, 2020
2020 Summer Program begins: June 22, 2020


$205 per week per child for Full Day (8am-4pm, M-F); before care (7-8am) & after care(4-6pm) is included
$155 per week per child for Half Day (8am-1pm, M-F); limited before care & after care is $10 per hour per child
$40 materials fee per child
$10 per week additional fee for a child who is not fully potty-trained
10% discount for more than one child; discount applied to higher priced tuition
Mitchell College faculty & staff receive before care and after care at no additional charge


Download 2019/2020 Registration Form
Download 2019/2020 Health Assessment Form
Download 2019/2020 Financial Responsibility Form

Download 2019/2020 Financial Aid Application


Download 2019/2020 School Year Calendar
Download the 2019/2020 Family Handbook


Complete and submit all required forms with non-refundable $50 registration fee.

Check made payable to:
“Mitchell College” with “CLC” in the memo
Children’s Learning Center at Mitchell College
437 Pequot Avenue
New London, CT 06320



The Children’s Learning Center is located adjacent to the Mitchell College campus at 701 Montauk Avenue in New London, CT in the historic Chappell Cottage. Uniquely surrounded by the natural beauty and outdoor learning lab of Mitchell Woods, The Children’s Learning Center offers to its young learners access to a wetland pond, estuary and sandy beach on the Thames River at the mouth of Long Island Sound. Our setting naturally affords opportunity for discovery and exploration!

For tour information, please contact us at 860-701-5348 or

Inclement Weather

The Children’s Learning Center will be closed or delayed for inclement weather when Mitchell College is closed or delayed.

Schedule a Tour!

Contact us today to learn more or schedule a tour!
Phone: 860-701-5348

Looking for After-Care?

Are you in need of after-care for your 4-12 year old child?

The Children’s Learning Center offers after-care for children and siblings of children enrolled at the preschool/kindergarten, as well as the public.
After-care hours: 3:30pm-6pm
Care options: 1 hour | 1.5 hours | 2 hours | 2.5 hours
Fee: $10 per hour per child
To enroll: Complete and submit a Children’s Learning Center 2020/2021 enrollment packet:

Download 2020/2021 Registration Form
Download 2020/2021 State of Connecticut Health Assessment Form
Download 2020/2021 Financial Responsibility Form
Download 2020/2021 Family Handbook
*No registration fee to enroll in just the after-care program.

Preschool & Kindergarten

Three classrooms for 2020/2021

Open to children ages 3-6

Preschool and Kindergarten Classes are currently full for 2020/2021, but we are accepting applications for our waitlist. To register for the waitlist, please complete and submit just the 2020/2021 Registration Form; no registration fee to register for the waitlist.


2020/2021 Fees

Registration fee (non-refundable): $50 
Materials fee (yearly) : $40
Full Day Rate per week per child (includes before and after care): $240
Half Day Rate per week per child: $155
Fee per week for a child in diapers: $10
10% discount for more than one child
Other discounts & financial aid may be available

Meet the Team

Our teachers have a strong commitment to provide inspirational invitations for exploring, discovering, and creating. They promise to be attentive, reflective, and joyful, but most importantly, to create the best possible learning environment for your child.

Martina Bottinelli, MA | Director

Martina Bottinelli holds a Master of Arts in Education from Goddard College, where she focused her studies on experiential and self-directed learning. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College in 2010, and attended high school in Italy. Martina began her teaching career as a Pre-K teacher in Atlanta, Georgia, where she discovered her love of the Reggio Emilia approach. Martina returned to New England to pursue her Master’s degree, and founded a self-directed learning center for children of all ages right here in New London. Discovering the Children’s Learning Center at Mitchell College and returning to teaching in a Reggio-inspired program with a focus on nature-based learning was a dream come true. 

 Martina was honored to be offered the opportunity to guide the CLC as we grow as a center for Reggio-inspired and nature-based learning and teaching. She is joined in this adventure by our experienced and knowledgeable Master Teacher, Ashley Willis, and Preschool Teacher, Kelsey Bazinet.  

Phone: 860-701-5348

Ashley Willis, MA | Master Teacher

Ashley Willis earned her Master of Arts in Human Development and Education, with a focus in Early Childhood from the University of Colorado-Denver. In earning her masters, she participated in a teacher education program at Boulder Journey School. Ashley also earned a B.S. in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Environmental Education at the University of Vermont. She began her teaching career at an outdoor education program in Vermont, working with children ages 3-15. Since then, she has been teaching in Reggio and play-based preschool and pre-k classrooms in several states as well as abroad. She believes in listening to children’s interests and ideas as well as turning natural moments into teaching experiences. Her love for nature is instilled into her daily teaching practices. Ashley loves spending time with her husband and dog, working and playing outdoors–her favorite place being the family’s property on Block Island and, of course, the beach!

Phone: 860-701-7720


Kelsey Bazinet | Preschool Teacher

Kelsey Bazinet has always had a passion for working with children. She started her educational journey at Three Rivers Community College, where she studied Early Childhood Education and Human Development. She transferred to Mitchell College earning her B.S. in Early Childhood Studies. Kelsey is currently attending the Isabelle Farrington College of Education (Sacred Heart University) for her Master of Arts in Education. 

Kelsey is a charismatic and dependable teacher with many years of experience delivering educational assistance and instruction to various levels of learners. She has worked in both public and private school settings. At Mitchell College, she earned the Early Childhood Education Award and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Kelsey has always believed that children learn from their surroundings and the models in their environment.

Embracing the Reggio Emilia philosophy has given Kelsey a different perspective on teaching and the way that children learn. It has allowed her to teach children through nature and play. She sees children as investigators, especially when they have access to the wonderful resources at Mitchell College’s Children’s Learning Center and the southeast shoreline.

When Kelsey is not teaching, she can be found in her garden or with her family. She enjoys DIY projects and crafting on her Cricut. She has two children and a niece and nephew who she adores. She also loves animals and has many.

Phone: 860-701-5348

“My passion is to provide young children with a nurturing, enriching, creative, and playful environment.” -Martina Bottinelli, Director

At the Children’s Learning Center, families, children and teachers partner in the process of learning.


By asking questions we discover the children’s ideas, hypotheses, and theories.

“I believe in listening to children’s interests and ideas as well as turning natural moments into teaching experiences.” -Ashley Willis, Master Teacher

A few words on fit.


"Fit” is the modern buzzword of the college search process. And frankly, rightly so. As you consider your college experience, we encourage you to look for a place that feels right. It’s also a good idea to make a list of the qualities and characteristics that make a college and you a winning combination.


If you are looking for a college that: 


  • Gets to know and understand each student as a uniquely talented individual

  • Identifies potential and encourages students in very intentional ways

  • Fosters growth in each student, giving them a foundation for life and career success

  • Is small enough to deliver on the promise of a personalized experience

  • Goes beyond “career services” and offers a progressive 4-year career development model, partnering with local businesses and nonprofits for professional experience

  • Promotes an inclusive culture that encourages students to experiment in new clubs and activities

  • Is nationally recognized for its academic support systems, from professional content tutors (not students) to proven comprehensive support for students with learning differences

  • Connects students to service opportunities that impact their world

  • Is in a location that offers access to New England’s natural places and some of America’s greatest cities




…Mitchell College delivers in a powerful way.

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