Happy Tree Child Development Center

Happy Tree Child Development Center // photos Jenice Johnson Williams

Full Day Childcare Center Offers Safe Place to Learn, Play and Receive Loving Care

Three-year-olds are easy to impress. For instance, mine likes anyone who’s a “Toy Story” fan or has brown eyes like him. But parents are a little different. It takes a lot more than a shared appreciation for Buzz Lightyear for parents to trust someone, especially when that person is watching over their child. Talking to Danielle Preston, however, it’s easy to see why so many parents like her. As director of The Happy Tree Child Development Center in Carrollton, it’s Danielle’s job to make her young charges and their parents happy.

Danielle’s mother, Frances Goff, started Happy Tree from an apartment complex in North Dallas in 1989. As one of 19 children and the only one to complete her education, Frances had a passion for helping young ones. Now located at 3225 Belmeade Drive in Carrollton, Happy Tree Child Development Center provides childcare from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday for children ages six weeks to five years.

“When you walk through the doors, it feels like you are at home,” said Danielle. “From the warmth of the staff to the home-cooked meals we serve our kiddos, we really believe that children feel this school is a home away from home.”

photos Jenice Johnson Williams
photos Jenice Johnson Williams

Curriculum Tailored to Each Age

Happy Tree Child Development Center is known for a high level of care and education provided to children in a clean, safe environment. The school offers three main curriculums: infants ages six weeks through 18 months, toddlers ages 18 months through two and a half years, and Pre-K children ages three through five years. Prices range from $325 to $385 per week for regular full-time care.

Teachers in the infant room tailor schedules to each child’s unique needs while providing all babies an environment to learn, play and rest. The toddler rooms are designed to enhance kids’ cognitive, language, social and motor skills. At this age, children are introduced to slightly more structure, with time set aside for outdoor play, art, dramatic play, sensory exploration, music and more.

Happy Tree’s Pre-K rooms are admired for the way they promote individuality, self-direction and self-esteem within group learning. Curious minds love the routine of going from one learning center to another to engage in hands-on activities. Teachers use curriculum appropriate for all developmental levels and aligned with the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Texas Education Agency standards for preschool learning and development.

Children are also introduced to basic number awareness and literacy. In fact, many parents are shocked that learning to read is just par for the course here. “Literacy is so important and the foundation for learning and seeking out knowledge,” explained Danielle. “Our children need to be armed with this going into elementary school, so they become life-long learners.”

Happy Tree’s Response to COVID-19

When Happy Tree temporarily closed in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Danielle’s first priority was figuring out a way to stay connected to the 109 children that she views as family. The school regularly communicates with parents using an online portal at DailyConnect.com. Danielle continued utilizing this system during the school closure to post lessons, send encouraging messages and thank parents for their support. She also used Zoom to set up weekly video calls so the kids could interact with each other and speak directly to their friends and teachers.

“Never in 33 years has The Happy Tree Child Development Center been shut down, let alone for two weeks,” said Danielle. “As owner, my world was quickly turned upside down. I was concerned about the precious children and their routines, friendships, bond with teachers and most of all, their sense of normalcy during this uncertain period.”

On April 6, Happy Tree reopened to serve only the families of essential workers. After seeing how happy the children were to see their friends face-to-face again, Danielle decided to host a family drive-through so all of her students could safely see one another. Little boys and girls excitedly shouted and waved to each other for the first time in weeks. Tears were in everyone’s eyes as kids gave their favorite teachers homemade cards, and teachers gave their beloved students pots of soil to plant flowers, which represent new beginnings.

courtesy Happy Tree Child Development Center
courtesy Happy Tree Child Development Center

Now that daycare facilities are allowed to reopen in Texas, Danielle is excited to see all of the children return. “Because so many daycares have closed down, we would like to shed light on our response and offer some sort of hope for others,” said Danielle. “At Happy Tree, the same love and affection still resonates after 33 years. It’s amazing how children have an effect on the world.”

She continued, “We want to thank all of the hospital staff in the Metroplex who are risking their lives each hour of the arduous long day saving lives. We also want to thank the essential workers who are making sure our country stays supported and strong during this critical time in our economy. And most of all, we want to say that we are here to support each and every child enduring this tremendous event in their lives.”

Apply for Enrollment at Happy Tree >


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