The local daycare next to the school has been a part of Hettinger for many years. The end of December will be Krista Warbis’s fifth year owning the Lil’ Hawks Daycare.
“It was a daycare prior to my ownership, so I just took over under a new name,” said Warbis.
Before owning the Lil’ Hawks Daycare, Warbis taught second and third grade at Hettinger Public School. Eventually, Warbis turned her attention to the local daycare.
“I was just ready for something different and the sale of this daycare just happened to pop up at the same time.”
Even though Warbis moved from the school to the daycare, she kept the school’s theme and named her new business after the school’s mascot. With that inspiration she named her new business the Lil’ Hawks Daycare.
“We wanted to keep the theme of the nighthawks, especially because we are so close to the school. Also the kids here are going to be the future nighthawks, so it just seemed fitting,” said Warbis.
Warbis was well prepared to take over the daycare, with not only an elementary education degree from Dickinson State, but also eleven years of teaching experience at the local elementary school.
“I knew that I wanted to keep doing something with children, so I knew this would be the perfect step,” said Warbis.
Five years after purchasing the daycare, business at the daycare still keeps Warbis busy. It takes eight employees at Lil’ Hawks Daycare to supervise and entertain the forty-five kids enrolled.
“Although we have forty-five kids enrolled, we can only have 30 kids in the building during the day, so kids and come and go and schedules change constantly. We transport kids to and from pre-school, the elementary school, and even swim lessons in the summer. It’s crazy,” said Warbis.
It’s so crazy that Warbis and her eight employees have dubbed themselves the ‘chaos coordinators.’ Warbis said that the daycare starts at 6:00 a.m. and from there on, it’s controlled chaos.
“We don’t really have a set routine we follow; we just go with the flow. We eat two snacks and meals every day and do a lot of learning through play.”
The workers at the daycare entertain the kids with a combination of singing, dancing, and arts & crafts. The activities for the kids tend to be seasonal. Right now, the kids are working on making paper gingerbread houses and coloring Christmas stockings.
“We don’t do anything like worksheets, but instead learn through play and everyday interaction,” said Warbis.
At the daycare they have a teaching philosophy based on learning through experience.
Warbis continued, “I have a strong belief about not being preschool style. That’s what preschool is for. I think that sometimes we expect too much from our kids at too young of age. At this age they need to learn more about social interaction and less hard-core academic learning.”
This is the teaching philosophy that Warbis uses to make the kids enjoy coming to the daycare. Warbis also believes this strategy at the daycare helps avoid frustration when the child is learning.
Looking forward, Warbis looks to make some minor changes to the playground and the daycare for the kids. “I have some ideas for improvements come summer. I just want to improve some of our playground area for the kids so that way it’s not just same old, same old.”
Warbis also took a moment to thank her fulltime employee Debby Wolff.
“Debby has worked here for 22 years, even before I took over the daycare. And God bless her because I don’t know what I would do without her.”
With years of experience working behind the scenes at the daycare, it’s clear that Warbis and her employees have a dedication to helping raise the next generation of children in Hettinger.