ALBION — The Tree House had just moved to North Main Street around mid-March when it soon had to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Fortunately, it was able to reopen months later for summer camp and, on Saturday, families and friends of the early childhood enrichment and events play school showed up for a ribbon-cutting and grand reopening.
“We originally started teaching parent toddler music classes at a nearby dance studio,” said Tree House owner Michelle Waters, also the program director and early childhood education advocate. “In March, we decided to expand and move to our own location at 116 N. Main St. We held our first class in our new space, on March 12 and then by the 15th we had decided to close due to COVID-19.”
Waters said that after closing in March, The Tree House delivered educational activity kits across Western New York and reopened for summer day camp in July.
“It (the shutdown) affected The Tree House immensely as with all businesses, but with an exuberant amount of support from all of the local communities, we were able to keep the lights on and bring joy and laughter another day. We hand-delivered hundreds of educational activity kits from Rochester to Buffalo,” she said. “We pushed our grand opening out until we felt we could do it safely and still have fun.”
That chance came Saturday morning on what The Tree House owner said was a great day.
“We had many families come visit, some familiar faces and some new,” she said. “I was honored to have Courtney Henderson, owner of local boutique Milk & Honey and president of the Albion Merchants Association, attend and lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Her daughter has attended camp with us this summer, so it was even more special.
“We had an open house for our Play-School program and we ran free 30-minute tour and play spots for anyone interested in seeing our space,” she continued. “We had balloons for the kiddos and crafts for them to do together with their parents at The Tree House it take home with them.”
Waters said The Tree House has a large menu of educational offerings that are scheduled to return to its schedule.
“We are taking the time to perfect our procedures to ensure a safe environment without sacrificing fun,” she said. “We are reopening one activity at a time, but we are thrilled to see kids in our space again.”
The Tree House website, thetreehousealbion.com, describes enrichment activities such as:
• Pitter Patter, a one-hour class that incorporates music, movement, social growth and motor skill development;
• music, which uses guided group-movement songs that are tied in with The Tree House’s theme each week; and
• Learning Through Play, which works on developing children’s motor skills and uses musical instruments of the day, moving the body and other coordination activities.
Families may try any class for $5, according to the website.
Through the Play School, The Tree House says children will learn skills including sorting, predicting, alphabet knowledge, shapes, measurement and number sense.
“We have definitely pivoted to try to meet the ever changing needs of our community,” Waters said.