You’ve probably seen the slender, auburn-haired Judy Doyle flitting around town from time to time. When she’s not spearheading the initiatives of the or leading the charge for the , she’s working on building up her vision for a childcare business, which recently took a downward turn when she was forced to close Ms. Judy’s Emporium this September.
A business that Doyle doesn’t want to name, opened its doors a few months after she purchased Blend for Kids, which she re-named Ms. Judy’s, and her clientele began to dwindle. The newer business offered similar recreational options for kids, like classes and birthday parties and it wasn’t long before Doyle said she saw the writing on the wall. “Economic times and people not having cash – that made the difference.”
With her rent costing more than $2,000 a month for the two spaces at 1120 and 1122 Main St., Doyle said she had to decide if it was economically feasible to keep her children’s play center open.
“I had imagined that we would be able to offer classes to parents and children that they weren’t getting anywhere else. Classes based on nutrition, health and social skills.” Ms. Judy’s, she said, was a resource center for parents and children with a focus on play. “I wanted a place for parents to come and bring their kids and relax with them.” Ms. Judy’s, though not a daycare, was a center where parents could stay with children and watch them explore playing and learning through Doyle’s offerings.
Now faced with no home for her center, Doyle is embracing new vision for her business and looking more to the pre-school area with a focus on early learning for her new venture.
Doyle received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education and her master’s degree in education leadership. She has recently started to work on a play rubric, which she hopes will launch her into a PhD program.
Before opening Ms. Judy’s, Doyle was the former director of the now closed Children’s Discovery Center and the afterschool program coordinator for the now defunct Whitewood Pinebrook School. Four years ago, Doyle launched Backyard Adventures, a summer program held annually at the . Doyle also offers special classes like “Something out of Nothing,” which focuses on teaching about recycling, which she instructs at area schools upon request.
Of her new hopes to open a pre-school, Doyle said, “The focus is on integrating play and learning. I really feel that play is a lost art these days. Kids and parents are focused on being prepared for the test and it’s taking away from the learning to play. Kids need to be kids.”
After deciding she would open a pre-school, Doyle had her sights set on occupying 271 Montowese St., (the former democratic headquarters) but the plans fell through; the space is not insured for a daycare and there is not enough fenced-in yard for the amount of kids she hopes to serve. Doyle is actively looking for a space in Branford that is more then 700 square-feet and has enough outdoors space for 75 feet per child with hopes to serve at least 15-20 children ages 3 to 5. Those with potential rentals should contact Doyle at 203-887-2872 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think being a small business owner is stressful whether you are reinventing yourself or if you’ve been in business a long time,” Doyle commented. “I think even though the economy is still on the downside,” she said of her future plans, “parents still want quality education for their kids.”