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Center for Family Learning, Garfield County

Center for Family Learning
Center for Family Learning
Center for Family Learning
Center for Family Learning

Information

The Center for Family Learning is located in the former Grand Valley High School. The building was constructed in 1937 by the WPA as “the school” for the small western Colorado community of Parachute. The original building has been totally renovated and expanded as the home of the new “Total Family Learning” program.


The impetus for early childhood education is to be sure students are prepared for “school”. Thru the design process it became apparent that the real target needed to be the parents for whom school/education was not of high importance. Teaching parents how to teach their children from birth was seen as perhaps just as important as teaching very young children how to be prepared for school. The charge was to create a place that would meet the needs (including education) of children from infancy thru kindergarten, and make it a place their parents would not be afraid to come. Indeed, the underlying design imperative was to lure them in through providing services and amenities the parents would want and find useful in a setting that is interesting, compelling and as non-school-like as possible. The center piece is the old gymnasium (called the Family Room) with its central location, maple floor and exposed timber trusses made bright by opening long covered skylights and high windows.


The Center is carefully designed to segregate the children by age yet provide an efficient arrangement of spaces that can share resources and facilitate supervision of activities at all times. The facility has been master planned to become the District’s third elementary school should population growth dictate. As such, the cafeteria and gymnasium are sized to accommodate a 450 student elementary school. In the meantime, the gym is a wonderful, sound isolated indoor play area and the cafeteria can function as a community lunch room.


The facility contains two nursery spaces for infants from six to 18 months of age. Children from 18 months to 3 years old are accommodated in two toddler rooms. All four of these spaces have direct access to outdoor play areas separate from the older children, and special rooms where parents can observe their children unseen. Six preschool rooms and 7 kindergarten rooms are arranged around separate outdoor play areas. Classrooms are paired to encourage sharing of teachers and resources. Supporting the classrooms are administrative spaces not just for The Center, but satellite offices for health, special education and community outreach programs run by County and other agencies. A community health office is included with direct access from the main entrance in the evening and weekends.