Providing pathways: Child care center offers STEAM programming for kids ages 6 weeks to 12 years old


Learning Care Group owns and operates 900-plus schools and early childhood centers across the nation, one of which is Pathways Learning Academy, the first of its brand to offer a STEAM-based programming approach, which serves children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

Pathway’s Learning Academy serves children from 6 weeks to 12 years old.

Pathways Learning Academy has plans to open soon within Northview Church’s Binford Campus at 6620 Northview Way in Indianapolis. The center is a state-licensed, center-based preschool.

“We are on the Northview Church campus and child care in this area is a need,” Learning Care Group District Manager Nelle Brien said. “(Pathways) is open to anyone. You do not need to be attendees or affiliated with the Northview Church to attend.”

However, the platform works well because the church only uses the Pathways Learning Academy space for its Sunday school classes. Pathways Learning Academy programming only operates Monday through Friday.

“In a typical setting, this would be unused space Monday through Friday, and they only have children using it on weekends,” said Brien, a Carmel resident. “Now, because of the dual purposing, we are able to maximize the space and have more children on the campus throughout the week, and it’s not sitting empty.”

In addition to providing day care options for parents, Pathways Learning Academy also operates as a preschool.

“We are a child care, but we also are a fully functioning preschool,” Pathways Learning Academy Director Abby Steffen said. “We have degreed teachers on staff implementing curriculum opportunities throughout the day, and it is very immersed in STEAM-based curriculum. So, our main goal is, academics are important, but we are making sure (students) are well-adjusted little humans going into elementary school and preparing them for that next step.”

Nelle Brien, left, and Abby Steffen play with puppets in one of the child care rooms at Pathway’s Learning Academy.

For elementary-aged students, before- and after- school programming and transportation to a local elementary school is provided, in addition to a STEAM-based camp for school breaks and summer vacation.

Although the set-up works for Northview Church and Pathways Learning Academy, Brien said as more Pathways Learning Academies partner with other churches, those churches may have different needs.

“They may have some individualized needs they want to be met,” Brien said. “For example, the spiritual faith-based activities that the church provides would be different at each of the locations. The church has the option to have some spiritual teachings (in the space). This year, we know they will be doing some activities around Christmas and around Easter, but the rest of the time it will be our STEAM kindergarten prep.”

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