Gingerbread Kids Academy: Quality Environment For Early Childhood Education

COVER STORY | By M.G. Angulo Photos by | Alisa Murray Photography –

King Taylor, Luke Cartwright, Teacher Danielle Robles and Zia Ortiz.

When Christine Huff first set eyes on the Gingerbread Kids Academy in Richmond, her interest was immediately piqued. She and her husband had recently welcomed their baby girl Bella into the world, but with both of them being working parents, the Huffs were in need of a child care center that would meet their and Bella’s needs, so they considered the academy.

“I was so lucky to have found this wonderful place,” said Huff, explaining that Bella has been going to Gingerbread Kids Academy since she was three-months-old. Bella, who is now four-years-old and currently enrolled in the academy’s Pre-K Program, is “having a great time learning so many new things” her mother said. “She surprises me all the time with things she is learning there.

“The most important quality for a child care center, to me, is its trustworthiness,” Huff continued. “My primary goal is to make sure my child is safe and happy and that is what she gets at the Gingerbread Kids Academy. My husband and I know Bella is always left in hands we can trust. I don’t know if there is anything I say that can to truly do justice in explaining how amazingly wonderful this place is.”

A Superior Brand

An extension of the two-acre Gingerbread House Learning Center on Fourth Street in Rosenberg – which has nearly four decades of early childhood development experience and expertise – the Gingerbread Kids Academy, which is celebrating its 5th anniversary, is a “warm and loving experience for families,” said Danielle Robles, a Preschool teacher at the academy who has been in the childcare industry for nearly nine years. Robles has taught at the Gingerbread Kids Academy for more than four years and attests to the “dedication and love put into the children.  It is amazing, and I really admire that,” she said.

To its credit, the Gingerbread brand has a longevity and a depth that is unrivaled in the area.  Beginning with the Rosenberg location of the Gingerbread House, owned and directed by Kathryn “Ms. K” Kaminski, and now continuing with the Gingerbread Kids Academy, co-owned and directed by Tim Kaminski, Ms. K’s son, the Gingerbread brand carries with it an expectation of a comprehensive approach to early childhood education.

“The basis for education is learned in early childhood,” stressed Tim Kaminski, who is also a healthcare executive with a master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology with more than 25 years of treating children’s language disorders. “From learning language and social skills to academics and critical thinking, children, from birth to five-years-old, need a program that addresses all of these areas so they aren’t left behind when they start school. And this is exactly what Gingerbread has been doing since it started 38 years ago.”

Accommodating children from eight weeks to 12 years old, the 10,000 square foot Richmond academy features seven classrooms devoted to educating children, two-multipurpose rooms, a full-service kitchen, six age-appropriate playgrounds and a water splash pad. The Gingerbread Kids Academy opened in 2014 on 814 FM 2977 in Richmond and since then has continued to demonstrate its proven and specific approach to early childhood education through its academy, after school and Junior Achievement programs, all of which are based on a curriculum designed by Gingerbread.

The curriculum emphasizes reading, writing, science, math, discovery and exploration, and social skills development. The infant and toddler programs are devoted to the development of both gross and fine motor skills, along with basic language development. The three to five-year-old Preschool and Pre-K Programs focus on academics, peer relationships and preparation for entry into Kindergarten and elementary school.

“The owners are extremely knowledgeable in early childhood education,” said Robles. “They are very involved in the daily operations of the academy, and they don’t shy away from being involved in a classroom, which is one thing I feel really sets them apart. The Gingerbread brand has well over 35 years in the Rosenberg-Richmond area. They have an outstanding reputation within the community. I have my own child in the program, and I feel very confident in his Kindergarten abilities next year thanks to the Gingerbread Kids Academy.”

An Ideal Balance

One of the many reasons the Gingerbread Kids Academy comes highly-recommended by parents and staff alike is because it focuses its curriculum around developmental milestones, which prepare children for a triumphant entry into Kindergarten.  And, it allows children to be, just that – children.

Brittney Moats, whose two children are enrolled at the academy, said one of her main concerns when seeking a child care center was safety. “My husband and I chose this place because we knew our children would be safe. We knew right away Gingerbread was where we needed to be.”

But as a teacher, Moats also wanted to a center that would offer the ideal educational atmosphere for her children Addy, who is one-year-old, and Landen, who is five-years-old. Addy, who has been with the academy since she was six-months-old, spends her days in the toddler room, while Landen, who started at the academy when he was two, is progressing in the Pre-K Program.

“I was looking for a place that offered academics but put more emphasis on children as a whole,” Moats said. “School should be fun, and kids still need to be kids. The Gingerbread Kids Academy allows this.”

Tim Kaminski.

Kaminski said the academy achieves this goal by making sure the students thrive in a structured setting. “The entire day is planned out from when the children arrive to when their parents pick them up,” he said, explaining that the curriculum is complemented with snack time, nap time and lunch, as well as activities both indoors and outdoors. “The day will mimic a regular school day, and the kids are taught lessons through interactive play with their peers, as well as the adults.”

The academy’s curriculum is not just limited to the academic realm, though. Developing social skills is equally held in high regard at Gingerbread Kids Academy. “Having social skills is important,” said Kaminski. “Holding eye contact, talking about themselves, learning how to share, solve problems and how interact in small or large groups – all of these areas are important to us, too.”

Various arts, crafts, games, sports and the time-old tradition of simply playing outdoors, weather permitting, are always incorporated into the day, too. “No two days are the same here,” Kaminski said with a laugh.

“I am a firm believer in having structured learning,” Huff said. “And Bella definitely gets that. This is a structured but fun place for children, and we are very pleased with her social and academic development. I would tell any parent: ‘This is the right place for your child.’”

A Creative Atmosphere

Caleb Etuk, Zoe Reyes and Kaiya Sano.

While the academy is known for its top-notch approach to early childhood education, it is also praised for the imagination that is sewn into the curriculum. “The creativity they use in the way they teach the children is phenomenal,” said Huff, noting how the academy will use songs, crafts and other unique activities to teach the fundamentals to children.

“Playing with friends is, of course, Bella’s favorite part about the academy,” Huff said with a laugh. “But she is also having a blast learning new things every week. What surprised me was when she spelled ‘red.’ She learned it because of a song they taught. And the themes, I love all of the different themes they incorporate into their learning. They don’t just do the big ones, like holidays. For example, they celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and they include so many arts and crafts with their lessons.

“Every week they are focusing on the fundamentals in the way that is fun for the kids,” Huff said. “And it feels good to know Bella is having fun while also learning. The Pre-K teachers are fabulous. They are extremely friendly but have a structured way teaching and guiding that will prepare the kids not only for school but for life in general.”

A Focus on Family

Gingerbread Kids Academy is adamant about creating a secure family-oriented environment and that is because families are trusting the academy with the well-being of their children. “The only time you really feel comfortable leaving your child is if you are leaving them with family,” said Kaminski.  “The children are spending the majority of their days with us, so we don’t just get to know the children, we get to know the parents, too.

“We talk about what they did on a recent family vacation or over the weekend. We help families who are going through a child being sick, a divorce or even the loss of a loved one,” he continued. “We are not just a business. We are not just an education program. We take care of people’s children.”

Emma Walker, Cash Claxton and Zoe Reyes.

Moats knows this first-hand. Both of her children were born prematurely, resulting in some delays, and she said the entire staff were “very understanding and instrumental in accommodating their needs.”

“For the past three and a half years, we have had nothing but great experiences here,” said Moats. “The staff love my children as their own and are helping them become well-rounded kids.”

Each of the Pre-K teachers are not only certified and trained annually, but all staff members are placed with age groups that will most benefit from each staff member’s individual talents and skills. “They are knowledgeable, trained and are on the front line helping the children reach their potential,” Kaminski said. “Everyone is here for the right reason and that is the children.”

When children are enrolled, a baseline assessment is performed to determine where a child stands in a developmental aspect, and because Kaminski is the academy’s on-site Speech Language Pathologist, interventions can be put into place for any child who may have any significant physical or developmental disorders or delays. Kaminski has not only identified issues with children and made appropriate referrals to various resources in the community for further assessment, he has personally served as advocates for children needing early childhood intervention (ECI) services, is a member of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) and frequently conducts child care employee training seminars throughout the state.

“Insuring that these children get the appropriate help they need is important, and the fact that I am able to utilize my experience as a Speech Language Pathologist to help children and their families is an important asset,” said Kaminski.

When she thinks about all that Gingerbread Kids Academy offers, Huff said she could not think of a better place for her child to be. “You can drop your child off and pick them up knowing they will be safe, happy and smarter.”