Wonderland Activities Center is a Children’s Activities Facility providing session based drop off classes for toddlers and preschoolers. Classes are theme based with a curriculum focused on learning through play, art, literature, games, and music.
Classes cultivate positive peer socialization, classroom skills, and an early joy of learning. Themes are chosen to help children explore and learn about the world around them and include animals, seasons, weather, science, holidays, family, and early academic concepts and skills. The inspiration behind our program is to provide fun and educational classes that help children learn about the world around them, grow academically and socially, and gain confidence and independence.
Is A Wonderland Class Right For my Child?
There are many options for children's education and entertainment and it's important to pick a program that meets your needs, expectations, and personal philosophies. Here we have provided information about our program that should help you decide if a Wonderland class is the right fit for you and your child.
Licensing and Type of Center
Wonderland Activities Center holds a Children's Activities Facility license. This is designed for play spaces and other session based facilities that offer classes such as art, ballet, drama, and camps. We are not a day care and should not be used as child care. We offer session based classes that are meant to enrich a child's play time and socialization with fun and educational activities.
The Wonderland Classroom
The Wonderland Activities Center facility is designed to function as a classroom appropriate for toddlers and preschool age students. We have a creative play area on one side, and a classroom setting on the other with child-sized tables and chairs. Class time is spent doing focused activities like dress-up and imaginative play, creating with play dough and art materials, table top activities, games, manipulatives, and participating in circle time.
At Wonderland we strive to teach children proper and polite behaviors. We model and guide children toward behaviors that are respectful toward themselves, others, the classroom, and the environment. We offer children opportunities to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs in a positive and effective manner. We assist children in learning and implementing social skills to help them share, take turns, work together, and communicate with friends.
During play, social interactions, and teacher lead activities we guide children's behaviors and interactions with verbal reminders (bottom on your seat, gentle hands please), choices (Tom is playing with the red truck now. Would you like to pick another truck or come play blocks with us?), and prompts (If you want a turn say "turn please!").
When a child becomes frustrated—does not want to sit on his or her bottom for circle time, cannot make an acceptable choice, or repeatedly uses rough hands with friends or takes toys, we move into a self-chosen time out. We usually refer to this as "Let's take a break until we're ready to (insert acceptable behavior)." The child can return to play as soon as he/she chooses to leave the time out for an acceptable activity. We will check back with them or they will tell us when they're ready to play nice/use their words/join an activity.
Our method of verbal reminders, choices, prompts, and self-chosen time outs is extremely effective for most children and involves the child in learning to regulate their behavior, recognize their behavior, calm themselves/curb their own impulses, and choose appropriate replacement behaviors.
Teachers will remain in contact with parents letting them know what behaviors or goals we are working on with their child and what methods we are using to help them play and join our activities in an acceptable manner.
What Is My Child Learning?
During play time, children are offered the opportunity to use their imagination, express their interests, and socialize with friends. Teachers guide this play by taking advantage of teachable moments, encouraging the children to express themselves, and helping the children learn skills for sharing, taking turns, and playing constructively with peers.
During circle time, children are offered the opportunity to come together with their friends for fun and educational group learning. Through songs, books, puppetry, and games teachers introduce information about the week’s theme (seasons, holidays, weather, animals, nature), early academic skills (numbers, counting, colors, classifications), classroom skills (sitting, listening, taking turns), and verbal skills (increasing vocabulary and expressive language).
During snack and lunch times, children are offered the opportunity to sit with their friends over a healthy meal. Children practice sitting properly in chairs, drinking from a cup, using a washcloth to clean messes, tasting new foods, using polite table manners, and engaging in conversations with teachers and peers. Our meals are prepared in-house and served family style.
During art time, children are offered the opportunity to create something representative of the day's theme and practice fine motor skills. Children will be exposed to a variety of art medium including paper, glue, tempera paint, watercolors, stamps, markers, and crayons. Art projects are designed to support the theme and range from creative freedom of the artist to an opportunity to follow instructions and directional words.
During gym time, children are encouraged to burn off some energy with gross motor play. Children will build on skills such as balance, aim, and coordination while enjoying activities from riding cars to bean bag tossing to parachute play. Gym time will include open play as well as structured games.top
Is My Toddler Ready For The Classroom?
These skills and abilities are an indicator that your child is ready for group play and learning. Being ready sets your child up for a successful, confident, positive experience.
Yes, my child can!
- Drink from a cup.
If not, practice at 1 seated meal per day.
- Sit in a chair at meal times.
If not, practice sitting in a chair for the duration of each meal. Once the child leaves their seat then they are finished and their dishes are cleared. They should remain at the table for long enough to consume their meal, but not be asked to remain longer during adult conversation or social lingering.
- Leave home without their security item.
If not, practice leaving it at home whenever you leave the house to go on outings, run errands, attend classes, etc. Drop off is not the time to take the item away!
- Go without thumb, finger, or shirt sucking outside the home.
If not, remind your child to remove their sucking item from their mouth each time you see it outside the home. Remind them of your chosen rule: We only suck at home or a designated spot at home such as their bed. We follow the rule, “Only food is allowed in your mouth at school.”
- Express needs with words, pointing, or showing and does not rely on crying.
If not, practice labeling your child’s feelings and actions. Remind them to use their words so you can help them. Give them simple words and phrases such as “help please” “more” “all done” “my turn”. If your child is nonverbal continue with the labeling and encourage them to point or “show me.”
- Respond to verbal questions and directions.
If not, practice calling them to activities such as sitting at the table, coming for a diaper change, or picking up toys rather than fetching them and carrying them to each activity.
- Help with simple cleanup such as putting books on a shelf or blocks in a bin.
If not, practice when you clean up. Set out a bin and ask them to fill it with the blocks or the toy that goes in the bin. Bins are a great starting point for toddler clean up.
- Play comfortably in group settings and will play away from my side even if I’m still in the room.
If not, encourage them to play in certain areas or with playmates. If they are resistant, use this time to stay close to them, bond, and help them feel safe until the separation anxiety naturally subsides.
- My child is not currently experiencing separation anxiety or an extreme preference to one parent.
If they are, this is bad timing to begin a drop off class. Try waiting three months or when the anxiety/preference noticeably subsides. Starting when they’re ready sets them up for a positive initial experience!
- My child is not currently hitting or biting in group settings.
If they are, practice at home and in small group settings where you are one on one with your child and can manage the play and teach replacement behaviors before introducing them to a larger group setting.
For skills you need to work on with your child, please allow 3 weeks to three months of practice time before starting our program.
Classroom Hygiene Practices
Practice having your child cough and sneeze into their elbow. Applause and praise are a great response when they do it correctly!
Remind your child to ask for a tissue or come to you when their nose is running instead of wiping it on their hand or sleeve. Washing their hands every time they use them as a tissue is a quick and effective way to help them remember.
All hand washings are not equal! Please practice our method of:
Home Social Skills vs Class Social Skills (Something you may not have thought of)
Taking a toy out of Mommy's hand is common and usually acceptable in the home. Mommy has no problem sharing her blocks. Taking a toy out of a peer's hand in class or any social situation is not acceptable and can be hurtful. Start practicing this at home:
- Ask your child to say "turn please" before you give them a toy from your hand. Make sure to sometimes say "Mommy's still playing with this. Wait your turn."
- Don't let them knock down your block tower. Only their own. "Mommy worked hard building that. It made me sad that you knocked it down. Please knock down your own tower."
For additional information, clarification or questions on any of the following policies, please contact Wonderland Activities Center.
The Enrollment Process
- STEP ONE: Current clients are guaranteed to continue their enrollment in the same class into the next session if they respond before the enrollment deadline.
- STEP TWO: Current clients can move their child into open spaces of a different class in the next session if they respond by the deadline.
- STEP THREE: Any remaining spaces will be offered to those on the Early Registration List in the order that they were registered online. Siblings are given priority.
- STEP FOUR: After current client enrollment and early enrollment opportunities have been met, open enrollment becomes available online throughout the duration of the session to accept enrollments in all classes with spaces remaining open.
- EARLY REGISTRATION STATUS: If your child does not make it off the early registration list and into your selected class you can choose to: 1) Be notified if a space opens up mid session. 2) Hold your space in line and be rolled over to the next session. 3) Select a different class that has openings (while still holding your space in line for your first choice class.) No payment is due when you complete your Early Registration. Payment is due following the confirmation of your child's acceptance into the class.
The Enrollment Confirmation Timeline
- November: Enrollment for Winter/Spring Session (January start)
- May: Enrollment for Summer Session (June start)
- August: Enrollment for Fall Session (September start)
How To Enroll Online
- To enroll your child in a Wonderland class you must create an account on our website, click on the class you wish to enroll in, fill out the enrollment form, and read the waiver.
- You will receive a confirmation message on the screen upon completion.
- You will receive your "Enrollment Confirmation and Invoice" by email once it has been processed.
- Session enrollments are pro-rated when you join a session that is already in progress.
- On occasion, a partial session can be arranged and pro-rated.
- Before or after enrolling, contact us to schedule your Family Visit. These visits are required before dropping your child off for their first class.
All payments must be made by cash or check. Make checks payable to: Wonderland Activities Center.
- Your first hold payment is due the Friday following your registration or the first date of class, whichever comes first. Following payments are due by the 10th of the month. Your invoice will reflect your payment schedule.
- A $30 individual processing fee is applied to all payments not made by their due date. Please make your payments on time.
- You can drop-off your payment in person, put it in our mailbox, send them by scheduled bank check, or mail to Wonderland Activities Center 1927 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL. 60657
Payment Refunds/Partial Attendance
- Most payments are non refundable.
- If you wish to enroll in a session but have the possibility of a move or other upcoming event that may cause you to be unable to complete the full session, you must make arrangements with Wonderland prior to enrollment. We have options available to invoice for early ending dates or month to month attendance. These allowances are usually made for those beginning formal school before the end of our scheduled session or for those with pending moves.
- If a child fails to adjust to the separation process, a refund may be given for the remainder of the session. In order to qualify for a refund, the child will have had to participate in the program following our guidelines and procedures for separation, drop-off, and attending in increments for three weeks (or 6 classes) before a refund is considered.
- If a child fails to adjust to the behavior requirements of the class after three weeks (or 6 classes), a refund may be given. If the child's behavior and actions create an environment that is disruptive to our abilities to conduct class, threatens the safety or feelings of security of the other students, or the child is simply not developmentally ready or appearing to enjoy and benefit from our class activities, a termination of enrollment and refund of the remaining session will be considered.
Please contact Wonderland Activities Center for any additional questions, concerns or special needs you may have. Thank You.top
Policies & Procedures
Visiting Wonderland Before Your First Drop-Off Class
Toddler Program Orientation: We hold an orientation for our toddler program before the start of each new session. This orientation is a great opportunity for parents to attend a demo class with their child and enjoy open play, a circle time, and an art project. Teachers are available to discuss and answer questions about the program.
Family Visit: Family Visits are a great opportunity for you and your child to become familiar with our classroom, enjoy some play time, and ask questions about our program. Family Visits are by appointment only.
Drop-Off Procedure for Your First Wonderland Class
Separation: Please be quick, confident and reassuring at drop-off time. Assure your child you will return soon, give great hugs, and send the child into the classroom or to a teacher. (Tip: Children do not yet understand time frames so try an activity familiar to your child like, "Mommy will go get coffee and be right back" or "Mommy will run to Target and then be back.")
Attending in Increments: Your child will attend only one hour of their first class so both parent and teacher can get an idea of how they will adjust. After this first shortened day, your child may attend in increasing increments that you and the teacher have discussed. If a child cries continuously for 30 minutes, we will call you to come pick-up and shorten their stay time for the first few days.
What if my child isn't separating well? If your child has attended the program for three consecutive weeks (or 6 classes) and you have followed our separation techniques and attendance increments, and your child still has not adjusted to the drop-off program, we will cancel the enrollment and refund the remainder of your payment.
Drop Off & Pick-Up Procedure
- Each child must be brought in to the Center by an adult and his or her presence must be made known to a staff member before the adult leaves.
- Only an adult whose name is listed on the registration form as a guardian, emergency contact or authorized person to pick up may pick up the child from the Center.
- Please inform staff if someone other than the person dropping off the child will be picking him or her up. This person may be required to show his or her picture I.D.
What to Bring to My Child's Class
- Please bring diapers and wipes, or a change of clothes for those who are potty trained, to be kept at Wonderland.
- We are a shoes free, socks required facility. Please wear or bring socks with you to each class. You can also leave a pair in your child's mailbox.
Toys, Snacks, and Security Items from Home
- Toys, snacks, and security items from home are not permitted in the classroom.
- If your child has an allergy and is bringing in a food substitution this arrangement can be made with your child's teacher.
- Security items should be separated from at the home, not at drop-off. This creates a very stressful drop-off situation for your child. Once your child has practiced leaving their security item at home when they leave for play and errands, they will be able to attend class without the security item.
- Practice with your finger or thumb sucker that sucking is allowed at home but not at the park, other public places, or at school. We follow the rule, "Only food is allowed in your mouth at school."
Potty Training & Diapering
- Children attending the morning toddler program do not need to be potty trained.
- Every child is taken to the bathroom or to have their diaper changed at least once during any drop-off class at or above 2 hours in length. Additional diapering and potty use are available as needed.
- A child will remain in a diaper or pull up until they have had several accident free days at home and at school and are able to indicate in some way if they need to go to the bathroom.
- Pull ups are allowed only as a temporary step while actively potty training. Pull ups that need to be ripped or require pants to be removed to be changed are not permitted. Reusable side claps/Velcro only.
- A detailed handout is available for potty training parents so we can work together toward success!
Attendance & Make-Up Days
- Please let us know as soon as possible if your child will be absent from class.
- Make-up days are offered, but not guaranteed.
- Make-up days must be made within the current session and do not carry over.
- Make up days are based on session length and limited to 5 in Winter/Spring Session, 3 in Summer Session, and 4 in Fall Session.
- Only 1 make up day can be scheduled in a single week.
- All make-up days must be scheduled in advance. No drop-ins.
- There are no refunds for missed days or uncompleted sessions.
- Please contact us with any potential moves, lengthy vacations, or other issues before enrolling.
- Children must be 24 hours free of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and sore throat before returning to school.
- Children feeling lethargic or with excessive sneezing, coughing, or runny nose must stay home.
- Children who are feeling well and energetic, but still have those lingering runny nose or sniffles may attend class. Please use your best judgment. We understand that cold symptoms can last for weeks. Please make sure your child feels up to playing before returning to class.
- Please exercise caution and follow a doctor's orders when siblings in the household are sick/contagious.
- We do not have a ban on any one type of food and take our students' allergies on a case by case basis.
- Parents are required to list all allergies on the enrollment form and discuss them in person with a staff member.
- Children requiring an epipen or similar device must provide one to be kept at Wonderland while their child is in attendance.
- Food omissions and substitutions can be set up with your child's teacher for classes that provide snacks and meals.
- It is preferred that a child be given medication before or after a class by his or her parent. However, if your child requires medication during a class you will be required to fill out a "Medical Administration and Waiver of Liability Form."
- There is ample free street parking on Belmont Avenue and the surrounding streets.
- If parking out front is full at peak drop-off/pick-up times, please loop around (for a soon to open up spot) or make use of one of the side streets.
- Wonderland Activities Center is located nearest to the Paulina Brown Line stop at Lincoln & Paulina.
- Several bus routes run near Wonderland, including Belmont #77 and Damen #50.
Celebration of Holidays
- Wonderland Activities Center is not affiliated with any one religion.
- Wonderland may or may not include the celebration and exploration of certain holidays during class themes through books, songs, art or other activities.
- Please inform staff if you do not want your child to participate in activities involving certain themes and we will do our best to inform you if that theme will be explored on a certain day. It is the parent's responsibility to obtain theme information from staff. You may keep your child from attending that class, but will not receive a refund for that class or classes. It may be possible to arrange a make-up class.
Please contact Wonderland Activities Center for any additional questions, concerns or special needs you may have. Thank You.top
- Jodi Sexton is the founder, director, lead teacher, and curriculum designer for the Wonderland program. She is an Early Childhood Education and Development Specialist for birth through age five. She earned an Associate's of Arts and Associate's of Early Childhood Education and Development Birth—5 years from Lorain County Community College in 2000. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education Pre-K—3rd Grade from Ashland University in 2006. She received her Reading Endorsement for the teaching and tutoring of reading and phonics and her Teacher's Certification from Ashland University in 2006. Miss Jodi has been teaching and working professionally with children since 1997. Jodi was born and raised in Ohio, near Cleveland, and came to live in Chicago in 2006 after enjoying many visits to the city. After teaching and working as a nanny in Chicago for several years, she founded the Wonderland Program in 2012.
- Hannah Akinola is a lead teacher with the Wonderland program. Hannah earned her Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2014 from Colby-Sawyer College. She earned her Teacher Qualification Degree in 2017 from McHenry County College. Hannah is from London and was raised between Europe and the U.S. having spent much of her life traveling. She has experience working with computers and teaching robotics and engineering concepts to students PreK-12. She began her teaching career in 2010 and has been working as a lead preschool teacher since 2016. Hannah is fluent in both English and French. Hannah is also a certified Zumba Fitness Instructor. She joined the Wonderland program in 2018.
- Helen Myers is an assistant teacher with the Wonderland program. Helen has been teaching preschoolers and kindergartners for 15 years. In addition to her many years of teaching experience, she has completed 101 hours of online training courses in the field of Early Childhood Education. She is a mother herself to one grown son and a grandmother of two. She joined the Wonderland program in 2019.
Jahn Elementary School
We love volunteering and helping out with Jahn events and activities when we can. You will see us yearly providing free themed art projects at the Back to School Bash, Jahn Pumpkin Patch, and North Pole at Jahn!
Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce
Wonderland Activities Center is a member of the Roscoe Village Chamber of Commerce. You will see Wonderland providing fun art activities in the kids' tent at Burger Fest every year!
Belmont Business Committee
Wonderland Activities Center is a member of the Belmont Business Committee in which we partner with other small businesses on Belmont to benefit the neighborhood, participate in fundraisers and collections for charities, and open our doors for the annual Bunny Hop!top
What are people saying about Wonderland Activities Center?
"Wonderland has been an amazing experience for my 3 year old daughter. She has flourished there, becoming more independent and making friends. Ms. Jodi and Ms. Kendra are so wonderful with the kids and Ms. Jodi is very responsive and approachable. The center is always very clean and well organized. I'm so happy we found Wonderland, my daughter is always asking to go to school she loves it so much. It is also very affordable for what is offered in the neighborhood, very worth the price."
—Aimee, Roscoe Village mom of one
"My daughter has been going to Wonderland Activities Center for the past 10 months. From day one she ran in and has never looked back. Her verbal skills exploded after entering this session based drop off class. It amazed us! She has really flourished in Wonderland. It amazes us how much she has learnt, the little facts she'll take home about different animals, shapes, numbers, colors and probably the biggest surprise, when she recognizes a book in the library or bursts into a song that she learnt at school. Miss Jodi and Miss Kendra are so sweet, kids are very drawn to them and you can feel the lovely warm cozy atmosphere they've created that makes these kids love it so much."
—Barbara, Roscoe Village mom of two
"Miss Jodi and Miss Kendra are wonderful. Our 2-year old daughter had only been exposed to a full-time nanny, so we were not sure how she would handle being dropped off. We started her in Wonderland Activities' Creative Players class and by week 2, our daughter had settled in comfortably. We have noticed a significant different in our child's social skills too. She is now noticeably more outgoing, less shy, expresses herself more effectively both verbally and with actions and is more comfortable with other peers of similar age. Both Miss Jodi and Miss Kendra are great with children and the activities and lessons they conduct with the children are fantastic. They are fun for children, yet also are educational. I highly recommend Wonderland Activities to parents of toddlers."
—SY.T., Lakeview mom of one
"Miss Jodi and the staff at Wonderland Activities Center are as good as it gets. My daughter was 18 months and had very little drop-off experience. Jodi made the separation as easy as could be...for both of us! She helped my daughter's overall independence (she no longer cried going to the gym daycare, with babysitters, etc. after starting Wonderland). A year and a half later, my daughter still attends a weekly class and loves every second - she can't get in the door fast enough. My daughter also has a food allergy and I never worry while she is at Wonderland as Miss Jodi is on top of it."
—Allison, Roscoe Village Mom of two
"I drop off my boys and have free time to myself, to do anything from running errands, meeting a friend for coffee, going for a pedicure, going to a doc. The best part is knowing that my guys are safe and having a great time with Jodi at Wonderland."
—Susan, Lincoln Square mom of twin boys
"I've spent a lot of time trying to teach my 3 year old son how to read. After a while, both he and I just found our "teaching sessions" frustrating. I wanted him to sit and practice his letters, he wanted to run off and play with his trains. I was thrilled to find out that Wonderland Activities Center was now offering an Early Readers class. I signed him up immediately. After just a couple of lessons, I noticed that his attitude towards reading has completely changed. He now gets excited whenever he sees any street sign, any billboard. He tries to sound out the letters and words. After a few more lessons with Miss Jodi, he is now reading some three letter words. While I thought the progress was pretty remarkable, I was pleased when his preschool teacher made a comment about his reading skills being ahead of most kids his age. I believe this is one of the best investments I've made in my child's early education."
-- Yana, Roscoe Village mom of threetop
Classes are taught by two teachers. Teachers share responsibilities of leading guided play, circle time, art projects, gross motor activities, music and movement, classroom management, snack and lunch preparation, assisting with potty needs, classroom set up and clean up, and communication with parents.
This position offers the opportunity for growth. For those who are inspired, there are opportunities to contribute to or design your own curriculum. If you have any special skills, we would be happy to incorporate them.
Associates Degree or higher in ECE or field related to education and childcare.
Minimum of one year experience as a lead teacher in a classroom.
Certified in CPR and First Aid.
Experienced with developmentally appropriate practices and have a strong understanding of toddler development.
Experienced with communicating with parents to keep them informed on their child's activities and progress.
A cooperative and dependable co-worker.
Able to follow procedures and keep our classroom, clean, organized, and safe.
Assisting with classroom set up and clean up.
Preparing materials and activity centers from lesson plans.
Snack and lunch preparation.
Helping with classroom activities.
Assisting children with potty time.
One year experience in the field of education/child care.
Certified in CPR and First Aid.
Able to follow procedures and keep our classroom, clean, organized, and safe.
All our classes are taught by an experienced lead teacher so anyone coming in to join us as a substitute would have the main job of assisting the lead teacher and keeping the children happy and engaged with classroom activities. We do some activities in small groups so a substitute would have her own small group within the classroom at times throughout the day.
We are in need of substitutes to take the place of a second classroom teacher when one of our teachers is out for the day or longer scheduled vacation. We also schedule substitutes to function as additional teachers at the beginning of our sessions when we have new students joining our program who will require extra attention and TLC when transitioning to their first drop off classroom experience.
Substitutes should be the type of person who can easily jump right in and take direction on the job. They should be patient, caring, fun, flexible, and ready to do what is needed. An understanding of children 2 -3 years old will be necessary to assist with classroom play, learning, and social skills.
Those on our substitute list are contacted with dates when a substitute is needed. They can reply to work the dates or inform us if they are unavailable. All substitutes come in to work one paid day when hired to receive a bit of training and get to know our teachers and program.
Certified in CPR and First Aid.
APPLICANTS SHOULD EMAIL THEIR RESUME TO firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Work For Wonderland
Wonderland is a small business nestled in the family friendly neighborhood of Roscoe Village.
Perfect work schedule for parents with children in school. Hours allow availability to drop off and pick children up from school.
Opportunities for parents with toddlers to receive discounts to enroll their child in class during their own work schedule.
Great for those continuing their own education through afternoon/evening classes.
Single classroom facility creates the perfect teaching environment without interruptions and a close supportive staff working as a team.
Stable part time job for professional teachers with hours easy to work around family, personal time, continuing education/pursuing a degree, or supplementing income.top