My Early Learning Adventures offers child care option in Marquette

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Debra Mason, with Paisley and Beckman, opened My Early Learning Adventures in Marquette in November. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Debra Mason has helped children and families most of her adult life, as a child care provider, teacher and employee at facilities like Prairie du Chien’s Family Resource Center and the Parenting Place and Healthy Families in La Crosse. 

In November, she got back to her roots, opening My Early Learning Adventures child care center in Marquette. 

The business not only gives her an opportunity to return to the McGregor-Marquette area, close to family, but to do something she loves. 

“I enjoy kids and their wonder of the world,” Mason said. “I still like learning after all these years, and it fascinates me how they learn and figure things out.” 

My Early Learning Adventures also fills a need for local parents. According to a report from the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, 23 percent of Iowans live in a “child care desert,” or area with “50 or more children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.” For rural Iowa families, the number jumps to 35 percent. 

“There’s a demand for infant and toddler care,” Mason acknowledged. “[Child care] is definitely a community service—a really important one.” 

Mason currently has three children under school age at My Early Learning Adventures; two more kids come after school. She’s working toward being licensed for eight kids under school age and four who are at school age. 

“Until then, I can still take a couple more,” she said. 

For Mason, in-home child care offers a more individualized, low-key environment. Kids will enjoy a routine and daily preschool activities. There’s a book corner, science area and other learning centers for them to explore. 

“I love activities, like doing stories, puppetry and art,” she shared. “There’s a sensory table with oatmeal. I like paint and Play-doh and all the messy stuff.” 

In spring, summer and fall, kids will get to spend a lot of time outdoors. 

“I have really high standards,” Mason said, vowing to work hard and make improvements as she continues My Early Learning Adventures. She appreciates the trust parents have placed in her. 

“It’s a big thing for parents to leave their little ones,” she added. 

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