ASK EVELYN

Welcome to the Hammondsport Children’s Center Blog!

Most parents and families have questions about child development and healthy family relationships. My goal is to create a dynamic hub for families and the community. Please join us for conversations about early development, parenting and resources for our little ones! 

It truly does “take a village to raise a child”.

  • eefinger

What a wonderful surprise to see my dear friend Evelyn again after...too many years! The last time I saw her, she was working in Albany as an early childhood expert and I was finishing my Masters in Education with my thesis centered around how the brain learns. Since then, I have worked as a teacher, a job coach, a vendor for the NYS Commission for the Blind, and have started a theatre production company. When Evelyn heard what I had been doing, she invited me to be a visiting artist at the Center. I immediately accepted, of course!

Evelyn and I share a passion for theater and the arts. As young women, we performed together in local theater and have both been engaged in supporting and participating in community theater. In our rekindled friendship, we found that we also share a similar philosophy of childhood development rooted in neurological research and child psychology. To put this philosophy simply, children need secure and enriched environment where they can explore, create, solve problems, build relationships, and make mistakes. In even simpler terms, children NEED play to develop, and this is especially true in the formative years.

We discussed ways to get involved and Evelyn said she would love my help with the Dr. Seuss parade. Since I have never costumed for Seuss, I wasn't sure if I could pull it off, but it turns out that Dr. Seuss and I have a similar fashion aesthetic- polka dots, stripes, bright colors, petticoats, bloomers, and weird hair!


Before I crashed in as a stranger to costume 12 children and 4 care givers (The adults did NOT get a pass!), I asked if I could visit a day before the parade just to introduce myself. I promised to dress to impress toddlers. I think I hit the mark!

I arrived at the Center the morning before the parade in a comically large cowboy hat, a denim vest, a huge petticoat (for the spinning effect, which I am proud to say DID impress the toddlers), cowboy boots, and a briefcase for all my important stuff! Upon arrival, I was immediately impressed by the environment. The Center is a beautiful old home in the heart of the village with all the trappings- high ceilings, french doors, fireplaces, large windows, elegant trim, and fine art work. It ALSO has toys, games, children's artwork, costumes, crafts hanging and little furniture everywhere! I found the children happily finishing breakfast and was heartily welcomed by them. Within minutes, I was in the “big kids” room, telling the kids about myself and peaking their interest in my briefcase.


“Oh, THIS? You guys want to know what's in THIS?” They did. Gathering around me, I first asked them to pick one thing out of my purple bag (filled with trinkets and baubles) and tell me something about it. This engagement immediately calmed them down as they waited for their turn. After that I passed around my other very important things: a folding fan, a small box that opened by turning a crank which turned two gears, very old binoculars, a school bell, and a GIANT clothespin and her tiny baby clothespin who took a nap in the gear box. I left the big kids while they were still impressed and headed for the little ones. I repeated the same process with similar results, then left them with sticks to decorate with flags for our big parade the next day. I tell ya, I was a hit!

That day I worked on costumes. The day became night as I pieced together Sam I Am and his green eggs and ham, Lorax, Horton, a whole bunch of Whoville characters, Things 1 and 2, and, of course, The Cat in the Hat. For myself, the mayor of Whoville!

I knew that Evelyn was not expecting me to be so thorough, but as I worked I remembered the last time I worked costuming pre-school children for theater and a plan began to form. Perhaps Evelyn would be up for a weekly visit from me where I worked with the children to develop a performance, create the set, sing Seuss songs...Then the title came to me- “The PreSchool Seussical!” After the very successful parade the next day, replete with musical instruments, flags, banners, chanting, marching, dancing in the gazebo, and “Follow the Leader” in the square, I told Evelyn my idea. “I have never heard of the preschool Seussical,” she said. I think my excitement shone in my eyes when I answered her. “I KNOW! Nobody has!” It is my great pleasure and honor to be engaged again in my community doing what I love to do and I hope you will check in on us to see how our little musical is coming along! I am aiming for September! For more information about how the fine arts enhance cognition, self-esteem, motor skills, socialization, and MUCH MORE, visit the sites below or talk to Evelyn! She is an expert in the field. Elaine Brundage, Visiting Artist at Hammondsport Childrens Center https://ecc.gov.jm/benefits-of-the-arts-in-early-childhood-development/ https://dana.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/learning-arts-and-brain-dana-press.pdf https://www.all4kids.org/news/blog/why-the-first-5-years-of-child-development-are-so-important/


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  • eefinger

At Hammondsport Children’s Center we believe in the power of PLAY! Now don’t get me wrong…This is serious business. In fact, it is the serious work of child development. Young children learn through exploring their environment with all of their senses. They taste, touch, squeeze, watch and listen. They bang, throw, kick and roll using their bodies to learn about space and energy. They tease and joke and laugh to learn about others and gain social skills. They experiment with materials to learn the basics of science. They develop language and literacy skills through storytelling, music, books and rhymes. All of this PLAY is fueling their brain development and laying a foundation success in school and life.


Infant development – Just a word about our amazing infants… The first year of life is the fastest period of development in the life span. Babies are my specialty. We pride ourselves at tuning in and getting to know each infant in our care. We assign a primary caregiver so that a secure relationship with the child and the family can develop. When babies feel secure they can explore and expand their play and interest in the world around them. Babies here at the Center are included in all of fun experiences we provide. They might be on the lap of a caregiver or in a stroller riding along to the town square. We follow their lead and honor the schedules that parents request for napping and eating. We encourage breast feeding and support mothers in their choices. We practice tummy time and freedom of movement. We limit time in seats and swings.


We focus on 4 pillars of the program


Project Play occurs throughout the year but we really have time to embellish our work during the lazy days of summer. Kids start a project and can build on it until finished. During our summer enrichment program there is a weekly theme that fuels project ideas. During “Things that Go” we might build a rocket ship and write stories about space exploration. Forest week gave us a chance to build our own little forest in the fort and stock it with forest animals made of paper mache’


The Arts– Our kids have daily opportunities for creative play with arts and crafts. They can participate in a teacher directed art project or just explore with paints, crayons, scissors, glue and everyone’s favorite – GLITTER! We experiment with clay, sculpture, sidewalk chalk, etc. Right now, we have a visiting artist who is sharing her theatre talents with our kids. She helped them dress up for the Dr. Suess Parade and she is teaching an older child the fundamentals of script writing! Come see our play productions later in the summer.


Science– Is all around us and children are naturally curious about how things work and how things grow. My favorite science project is the Children’s Garden. Here we learn about composting, recycling, soil basics and how things grow. We feed the birds and keep the bunnies away from the lettuce. But science is also present in our cooking projects, water play or chemistry experiments. We have a science corner where we explore bugs, hatch butterflies or build volcanos. Did you know you can power a Hot Wheel car with magnets?


Music and Dance – We sing and dance everyday. Lullabies are an important part of our naptime routine. Sometimes in the late afternoon you will catch us shaking our sillies out or relaxing with Yoga for toddlers. Dance Party is always fun where the kids get to bust a move! Or pick up an instrument and join the marching band! Sometimes during the morning, I hear classical music playing in the background. It has a calming effect on the toddlers but we don’t usually play music as background because it distracts from the play at hand. During morning circle time, the toddlers have some favorite songs they sing and some finger play activities. The older kids have a circle time routine that includes songs about making friends, what’s the weather, etc. Oh, we make a Joyful Noise!




Every community needs high quality child care and development services. Just like we care about good schools, it’s critical that our youngest children have reliable, loving care so that their little brains light up and grow. Secure relationships that encourage interaction build the social and emotional foundation for learning. Play and exciting early experiences with art and music and science are the ingredients for healthy brain development. Every child deserves this opportunity to thrive.


When I first found the building at 21 Shethar St. my vision started to emerge. This big old beautiful house could be a “home” for the little ones in our community. I had been travelling and teaching about the components of high quality care for infants and toddlers across New York and working on child and family policy across the country. When my Grandchildren were born the whole issue became more personal and I decided to start at home. Hammondsport is the place where I built a home and raised my two sons. As the saying goes ”Think Globally…Act Locally”


So, the work began. I secured a lease on the property at 21 Sheather St and opened my doors for business. The need for child care is always present and soon the place was filling with babies and toddlers and preschool children. Now three years later, we are operating at full capacity and have a waiting list. The environment has been improved, the curriculum refined and our ability to provide individualized care has been fine tuned. Come visit our “happy home” and see these little brains at work!




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