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Monarch Preschool is open and accepting registration for children, helping address a need for affordable child care in College Park.

The preschool, located in the city’s Hollywood neighborhood, opened for students earlier this month. It is currently operating at a 50-student capacity, said the preschool’s assistant director Anna Philyaw.

The preschool has six classrooms, but only three are currently operational to be compliant with COVID-19 guidelines. There are nine educators, with more set to be hired as guidelines ease up and the other classrooms begin to open.

There are only three children enrolled at the school currently, but Philyaw is thrilled to see the school up and running.

“They bring the joy and energy that we were just anticipating … and now that it’s here, it’s great,” she said.

Monarch Preschool was founded by The Children’s Guild, a nonprofit organization seeking to serve children and their families with high-quality education and mental health services. College Park is just one of its locations, but in 44 years of his career, Duane Arbogast, chief of strategy and innovation for The Children’s Guild, said it is one of the most calm and warm environments he’s seen.

“There is this real feeling of calmness in this school,” Arbogast said. “What strikes me is how the staff is so connected with the kids.”

[UMD parents call upon university to make new childcare center more affordable]

Josefina de Campos Salles enrolled her 5-year-old son Luiz into the preschool and had nothing but praise for the facility and its staff. Campos Salles said Luiz never wanted to go to the preschool he was previously enrolled in.

But with Monarch, Luiz flipped. Instead of asking not to be taken to school, he’s exclaiming how excited he is to go and how he doesn’t want to leave.

“I’m just so impressed with Monarch because within the first week, there were no tears at drop-off and that’s a big deal,” Campos Salles said.

With limited child care options in the College Park area, Monarch is also offering nominal rates. The school has five-day, three-day and two-day options for parents to choose from for a monthly rate of $1,100, $700 and $500, respectively.

Tuition at the child care center at the University of Maryland, run by Bright Horizons, ranges from $1,360 for preschool and $1,925 for infant and toddler care without a discount for students, staff or faculty, The Diamondback reported last April.

The prices at the campus center were met with shock from some at this university, prompting more than 350 people to petition the university for affordable child care.

[Community members welcome upcoming childcare center — but some have cost concerns]

Meanwhile, Campos Salles was content with the rates at Monarch, finding them to be cheaper than what she was paying at the previous preschool.

With a background in early childhood and elementary education, Campos Salles said she was also very pleased with the curriculum Monarch is offering. The curriculum is project-based, focusing on themes rather than just one skill a day, Philyaw said.

One such theme is the human body, Campos Salles said. Luiz watches videos and reads books about the body, which is supplemented by puzzles.

Most recently, Luiz built a skeleton, Campos Salles said. Philyaw added they also do physical activities to learn how to exercise their bodies.

“So they learn all of these things that they’re seeing in their world, as well as using every day,” Philyaw said.

With a happy child, a great curriculum and affordable rates, Campos Salles feels bittersweet about how Luiz will be too old to attend Monarch after this summer. But she’s glad to be a part of it while she can.

“I’m just overjoyed and so glad that I was able to become a part of the Monarch community,” she said.