Walking paths. An outdoor space for arts and crafts. An expansive field for structured group activities.
Then there’s the outdoor eating space with an overhang — under which visitors will find little picnic tables with children enjoying their lunch or snacks.
“We’ll even have an outdoor mud kitchen,” added Tara Kochanskyj. “There will be water for them to create mud pies. These parents have to send their children to our school knowing they’re coming back dirty.”
“We’re building three playgrounds,” said Stephen Kochanskyj.
That’s just outside the gleaming new Bloom preschool that’s being built out on at 165 Montauk Highway in Moriches.
Bloom, described as a Natural Learning Center, has been operating from inside the Kochanskyj’s Center Moriches home the past seven years. There, she and the staff educates children from six weeks to 12 years old, 12 months a year, with an emphasis on learning through play.
The school has now taken up the entire floor of the ranch home.
The couple and their two children had to move their personal lives to the finished basement. There’s 700 square feet of learning space upstairs in the house.
The new 4,300-square-foot center is designed to look like a barn.
The couple had been searching for a suitable location outside of their home since the school started. But plans for their own school started well before that.
In fact, Tara, 36, had always dreamed of opening her own center since becoming a preschool teacher at 21.
“As soon as I started working in preschool, I knew that’s what I was going to do,” said Tara, who comes from a family of educators, but had only ever wanted to work in the private preschool sector.
“My parents always said I was crazy,” she laughed. “And that I was going to be a [grade school] teacher because of summers off and all the perks.
Tara called it “a long road” finding a suitable plot for the new school.
“Steve searched all day every day for a proper location, and we fell into this random piece of property,” one which not long after their purchase was rezoned as commercial, she said.
The building sits on an acre and a half of property.
“It also helps we’re next to Greek Bites,” Stephen said with a smile.
As of now, the structure is fully built and the interior has been framed, sheetrocked and spackled. It’s expected to open this spring.
In the meantime, space for much of the pre-school programming is already filling up, the couple says.
Then there’s the food
From the start, Tara knew she wanted her in-home school to offer fresh and organic breakfast, lunch and snack options for her children, many of whom she considers part of an extended family.
The new center on Montauk Highway will feature a large commercial kitchen for preparing meals.
Thus far she’s been preparing the food in her home. And she’s been doing a lot of it. That takes a lot of work, the way Tara does it.
You see, at Bloom, the kids don’t experience a steady rotation of frozen nuggets, Ellio’s pizza and mac and cheese.
“I try to hide a lot of vegetables” in the food, she said. “I might puree carrots and mix that in the pancakes, or squeeze apple sauce in the batter. Or puree spinach really fine and put that into the meat for meatballs. And we get our bread from Nettie’s in Center Moriches.
“It’s not organic, but I don’t care what anyone says, that bread [at Nettie’s Country Bakery] is way healthier than me going to the store and buying organic bread.”
Then there are the ice pops they serve in the summer.
“I make them from fresh smoothies,” she says. “Everything that we do has thought put into it for sure.”
More about Bloom
From the website:
Bloom provides parents with quality child care for their children. Care is offered Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.
Bloom offers infant, toddler, preschool & pre-k classes as well as school age before and after care, school break kids’ club and summer camp.
2, 3, 4 & 5 day, flexible schedules are available.
Bloom is open year-round. Bloom also offers drop-in care for parents that do not want to commit to a set schedule but want to pay a daily or hourly rate for as needed care.
Top: Stephen and Tara Kochanskyj inside their Center Moriches home. (Credit: Michael White)