Treating Every Child Like One of Their Own


When her maternity leave was over and it was time to drop off her infant son, Grant, at daycare, Jennifer Bower found herself consumed with guilt. She trusted that the providers were going to keep her son safe and meet his basic needs, but that wasn’t enough. On the drive to work, Bower wondered, Will they love him? Will they nurture him? Will they teach him?

Her palpable worry about the care of her own child helped form the ethos of BeanTree Learning, the childcare and education facility she founded in 2005. After relocating from Atlanta, Georgia to Northern Virginia when her son was a toddler, Bower launched BeanTree’s first campus in Ashburn. “My focus was to provide a place where we had quality teachers who cared about every student,” Bower says. Remembering her own guilt, Bower says that the gut feelings parents have when they walk out the door are fundamentally important to the way she’s designed her schools. “We want parents to have complete confidence while they’re away from their children.”

Bower’s approach was so popular that BeanTree’s second center, located in Westfields, opened just two years later. “We wanted to create essentially a second home for these children,” she explains. And part of cultivating a valuable second home included finding the most valuable caregivers. “We have children sometimes for nine or ten hours a day,” she reasons, “so it was critical to me that we had the best teachers as caregivers and educators.”

Attracting high-caliber educators is a point of pride for Bower—BeanTree offers benefits to teachers that are unique throughout much of the childcare industry—including health insurance, education and tuition reimbursement, flexible spending accounts, and a 401K plan, among others. “We really treat them as professionals,” she explains, but the payoff for Bower is obvious: in return, she says, “Because of how we treat them, they act like the professionals they are, always wanting the best for the children in their care.”

With one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry, the caregivers at BeanTree pour their hearts into spending time with their students, whether it’s snuggling babies in the Infant Room or completing enrichment activities with Pre-K learners. For parents, the nurturing environment is priceless. “Recently a parent stopped me on their way out of the building to thank me,” Bower recounts. “They told me, ‘You have no idea how much I appreciate being able to leave [my daughter] in a place where I have no doubt she’s being well cared for.’”

For Bower, outstanding care extends beyond creating a welcoming, child-friendly space.

It also means helping alleviate some of the parental burdens commonly associated with childcare. For example, tuition at BeanTree is all-inclusive: it covers nutritious meals and snacks, diapers and wipes for infants, mats and blankets, art and craft supplies—everything. In many ways, offering exceptional care also means alleviating first-time parent worries. “We wanted to make it easy,” Bower says. “All you have to do is bring in your child.”

“For Bower, outstanding care extends beyond creating a welcoming, child-friendly space.”

BeanTree teachers go to great lengths to ensure curriculums are developmentally appropriate for learners at every stage. In addition to a thorough academic curriculum, specialty classes—like Spanish, art, music, and technology—are taught in 30-minute rotations, which provide teachers with valuable time to lesson plan and create fun projects for increased learning outcomes. Extracurricular activities are also offered on site, including dance, martial arts, and even a visiting hair stylist who books appointments for children at the center twice each month.

The drive for an inclusive care experience is what led to the creation of The Pavilion at BeanTree in 2014. The 28,500 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is located near the original campus in Ashburn but caters exclusively to school-age children. The center is AdvancED/SACS CASI accredited and offers full-day private kindergarten, a half-day kindergarten enrichment program with a focus on math and literacy, a first grade program, before and after school extended care options, and a variety of immersive, themed summer camp programs—basketball, ballet, cooking, STEM, and adventure camps are among the most popular.

At The Pavilion, students participating in the half-day kindergarten program are picked up each day from several local elementary schools for enrichment and learning activities including science, social studies, PE, and health. And while a dedication to providing exceptional care at BeanTree extends to middle-school-aged children who participate in summer camp programs, it begins with the center’s youngest students, for whom infant rooms are divided carefully into three stages based on development and mobility. The center also boasts a 3:1 ratio for infants and young toddlers (which is lower than the state requirement of 4:1) for truly optimized care. Lesson plans are individualized based on each child’s abilities, interests, and, goals. From working with an infant on sitting up independently to teaching a toddler how to self-regulate his emotions when upset to helping a young learner identify the letters in her name, BeanTree teachers meet each child where they are.

“We treat all of our students as individuals,” Bower says of her centers, “and all families are welcome here. We’re always thrilled to tour new parents and children and to watch the excitement in their eyes as we introduce them to our BeanTree difference.”

To tour BeanTree Learning or The Pavilion or for more information about programs and enrollment, visit BeanTreeLearning.com or call 571.223.3113.