The Cranium Academy Story – Help Us Write the Next Chapter

Chapter 1 – The Cranium Concept

The story of Cranium Academy began in 2002.  Allison and Eddie Gray were visiting preschools and private schools, searching for the perfect place for their daughter. They were frustrated with what seemed to be very basic curriculum offered at even the top rated schools.

In addition to ABC’s and 123’s, they wondered why young children weren’t exposed to more advanced concepts, and subjects like astronomy and physics, in a way that was challenging and fun? Entrepreneurs at heart, they wanted their children to learn to think outside of the box and discover their own love of learning.

After visiting countless preschools and private schools, they realized some seemed very good at play, while others seemed good at academics.  Some believed in child-led discovery, while others swore by teacher-led activities.  They began researching strengths and weaknesses of different educational approaches from traditional to Montessori to play-based learning programs.  They wondered why parents had to choose, and why children could not benefit from various approaches.

Eddie and Allison wholeheartedly believed in the critical thinking aspects of Montessori teaching methods.  They were excited about the Montessori approach to learning through discovery rather than memorization.  But they also felt children could benefit from the routines and teacher-led activities of more traditional approaches.

Then there was technology.  Throughout Eddie’s corporate career, he worked for technology companies in Silicon Valley.  He knew strategically using the latest technology, in combination with hands-on discovery, would be critical in helping to prepare children for success in the 21st century. He believed technology could be used to customize elements of each child’s curriculum, so every child could reach his or her true learning potential.

So they set out on a mission to create a program that would revolutionize education, molding the best aspects of various philosophies into one innovative private school experience with a completely unique approach to learning.  Their vision was to ignite an educational revolution, which prepares each student, like no other program around, to become the best critical thinkers and leaders of their generation.

Chapter 2 – The Community Responds, and Cranium Expands

The original facility opened its doors in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando, Florida in 2004, (called FasTracKids) offering tutoring and critical thinking focused classes with less than 2,000 sq. ft. and only two classrooms.

Due to the overwhelming response, they quickly expanded. A preschool program was added, and the name changed to Cranium Clubhouse.  Before long, with nothing more than word-of-mouth referrals, there was a three-year waiting list. In April of 2009, Cranium Clubhouse moved into a much larger space with over 10,000 sq. ft. The new facility in Winter Garden, just outside of Windermere in southwest Orlando, continued to expand.

In August of 2012, after years of being asked to offer elementary school, a K-2nd grade program was added. Cranium Clubhouse transitioned to Cranium Academy, offering preschool through fifth grade, summer camps, birthday parties, after school programs, and more.  Today, over 30 exceptional teachers and staff members stand united in Cranium Academy’s mission to inspire creativity, critical thinking, character and leadership to over 260 students.

To reach even more families, the first Cranium Academy franchise is currently enrolling and set to open in Lake Nona, Florida in August of 2015.  Owners Charlotte and John Jebailey were so impressed with the education their child was receiving at the Winter Garden location that they wanted to share the Cranium Academy experience with the families of Lake Nona.

The Next Chapter – Help Us Write It

Cranium Academy’s focus has always been on creating the very best experience for each family, the type of experience parents will want to share with others.  In doing so, we continue to grow and reach more families.  Eddie and Allison are grateful for each student, parent, and teacher that has played a part in the story of Cranium Academy over the years.  And the story continues…

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Cranium Academy offers a completely unique preschool through fifth grade private school experience, plus unforgettable summer camps, birthday parties, after school programs, and more! Now serving more of the Orlando area with our Winter Garden – Windermere location, and another location (opening August 2015) in Lake Nona, Florida.

Choosing a Preschool Program – Some Research Tips for Parents

There are many questions that can be asked to help in selecting the best preschool program for you and your child.  From the learning environment, to what type of method the school uses to teach your child, you can expect to find many differences between child care and development facilities.

Selecting a preschool for your child can seem overwhelming, but it is an important decision which can affect your child in many ways. Research shows about half of the brain’s neural network is set by age 5, 80% by age 8. So how do you choose the right preschool?  Before you start researching and calling schools, you should ask yourself a few questions.

Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

What kind of environment are you looking for?
Do you want a school located near your workplace or home?
Are you looking for a particular educational philosophy?
What is most important to you in a preschool program?
What kinds of specific needs does your child have?
What kinds of needs do you have regarding your schedule?
How much of your budget can you allocate for preschool expenses?

You will want to do your research and ask for word of mouth recommendations. Every parent has goals for their children growing up, and guiding them through the early years is crucial to their academic success and well-being. The preschool you choose should have a mission and values which align with yours to provide a healthy environment and ensure your child can continue to build on what they learn at home.

A preschool that has nurturing relationships between the children and their teachers sets a great tone for early learning and fun.  Make sure that there is a good balance between individual and group learning. Find out how the facility mixes the building blocks of learning with the excitement of play to keep all of their senses heightened.  Keeping your child engaged is key to advancement through the program and through life.

Tips for Researching Preschools

Knowing the main differences between the preschools in your preferred area can help you narrow down the right learning center for your child.  Taking the time to set up an appointment to tour the top 2-3 facilities you feel might best meet your needs is necessary to help you make that difficult decision.

When touring a facility, in addition to listening and asking questions, there are many things to look for. Be sure to observe what is going on within the school. How does the atmosphere look and feel?  Are the bookshelves stocked and does technology feel present?  A first impression of a preschool denotes what happens behind the scenes.  If a facility cares about the literature they give you, and they take pride in cleanliness, those can be early signs of a well thought out preschool program.  How is the overall noise level and organization of the classrooms?  If you see well behaved children and teachers which appear to be engaging the children and attentive to their needs, you could be in the right place.

Most preschoolers are capable of learning much more than ABC’s.  Ask questions about the curriculum that your child will be exposed to.  How situations are dealt with is a deciding factor as well.  From how a facility deals with allergies and accidents to confrontation and behavior, answers to these types of questions can provide a lot of valuable insight into the preschool program.

In your research for the best preschool solution for your child, you should ask friends and family with children what they are experiencing or have experienced.  They may be able to give you questions to ask that you would not have thought of.

Quick Tips on Choosing a Preschool for Your Child

Ask Yourself Basic Questions about Your Needs
Ask Friends and Family for Word of Mouth Recommendations
Schedule Tours with Your Top Selections
Observe Closely
Ask About the Programs
Review and Compare the Curriculum

Wanting the best for your child is completely normal.  While the search for the best preschool for your child can seem stressful and tedious, choosing one that you feel is the best match based on your research gives your child the best possible chance at success.

Find Out More About Our Preschool

Schedule a Tour

The best way to see what we do is to come see for yourself. We believe you will clearly see what makes Cranium Academy so special! Please contact us to schedule a tour of either our Winter Garden – Windermere or East Orlando (near Lake Nona) locations today.