New eco-friendly child care center opens in West Loop
September 4, 2009

September 2009

Little Green Tree House for Growing and Learning is located at 118 S. Ashland Ave.
Children’s Academies of America recently opened its first ecofriendly child care center in Chicago at 118 S. Ashland Ave. Little Green Tree House for Growing and Learning now is enrolling children ages six weeks through five years old.

The 10,000 square foot space features green building details such as abundant daylight with UV filters, toxic-free paints and finishes, and energy efficient appliances. Organic meals feature highly nutritious ingredients obtained from local sources. The child care center and catering facility are peanut-free zones. Special diets, including glutenfree and vegetarian, are accommodated while still allowing all children to participate in familystyle meals with their classes. At least 40% of each week’s meals are fully vegetarian.

As for the staff, 90% of teachers are certified as lead teachers or center directors, and all staff are trained in eco-friendly cleaning practices that meet Illinois Department of Children and Family Services sanitation standards. Also, eco-friendly, nontoxic toys, toiletries, bedding, dishware, and equipment are standard.

Erin Lyon, the center’s director of education, formerly worked as director of the prestigious Tutor Time Childcare/Learning Center in New York City. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Sacred Heart University. The curriculum is based largely on the Creative Curriculum commonly used in most pre-school and kindergarten classes, but it also includes some components of a theme-based curriculum.

“My main goal is for our teachers to be hands-on and to provide a curriculum that can be easily adapted to different ability levels,” Lyon said. “We are especially excited to be incorporating the EDGE [Early Development through Global Education] curriculum [], which will help us make eco-friendly practices a fully integrated part of our school.”

The Little Green Tree House, located on Ashland Avenue, has a variety of play options for youngsters.
The director of business operations for Children’s Academies of America, Elizabeth Geldhof, said, “If Chicago is to be our nation’s greenest city, we have to start by investing in our children and raising them in the healthiest possible manner. We will have the highest quality teaching staff, the safest standards both in equipment and operations, and a daily commitment to providing an energetic earth-centered learning environment for infants, children, and their families.”

Manda Aufochs Gillespie consulted on Little Green Tree House’s eco-friendly development and operations; Gillespie is an expert on green lifestyles and sustainability. Bauhs Dring Seglin Main Architects and Planners designed the facility. Todd Main, senior principal, stated, “The interior design invokes a warm, whimsical, and natural outdoor feel. The reception area offers a peek at the trunk of a tree, and the mezzanine level play space offers a little green tree house into which is incorporated a spacious indoor play area.”

The facility also has a 1,500 square foot private outdoor play space that includes a vegetable garden and play equipment designed to develop gross motor skills and stimulate the imagination. Classrooms are designed for creative play, social interaction, and educational development and learning.

Although all teaching positions have been filled, the company accepts employment applications from caring, qualified educators on an ongoing basis at For more information or to enroll, log on to or call (312) 492-9876 for an application form and to schedule a tour. Weekly tuition rates start at approximately $375. Hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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