Smart Start Academy
Smart Start Academy in Jersey City: As parents, we make many easy and tough decisions for our children. One of the more challenging ones is to decide whether your baby should go to a daycare or whether she’s ready for preschool. Too many questions arise – about Schedule, meals, activities, curriculum, and the most important is how do you feel about the people who is going to take care of your child.
As a first time mom and an immigrant I was so afraid of taking the wrong decision regarding to her school, everything was new to me. Luckily I stayed at home with my daughter for 2 years. But then came the time when she needed to meet and share with other kids and also she needed an avenue to assuage her curiosity. She needed to go to school and I needed to go back to work. Since my job has a flexible schedule, I wanted a school where she didn’t have to go every day. After all I could and wanted to keep sharing more moments with her.
By the month of march I decided to find an school for her. It wasn’t an easy task since we have so many schools in the town, all amazing but most of them have an everyday schedule. It was then by coincidence, I saw Smart Start Academy. I knocked the door and they opened with a big smile, immediately they offered me a tour, the school was so beautiful and they gave me all the details about curriculum, philosophy, schedule, activities, menu and I really loved it. They have flexible schedules as 2 days a week, 3 days a week, backup care program, after school daycare program and the everyday schedule. They got me that day and the same week I enrolled my daughter at Smart Start Academy.
Learn everything you need to know about Smart Start Academy here with my insight as a parent and also with answers we obtained directly from the owners.
Smart Start Academy currently has 3 locations:
Smart Start Academy Early Childhood Development Center 552 9th Street, Hoboken
Smart Start Academy Nursery and Preschool 180 Newark Avenue, Jersey City
Smart Start Academy Learning Center 462 Central Avenue, Jersey City
Cesia Acosta, one of the owners of the Smart Start Academy, told us about their beginnings and growth: “We opened early months of 2011, we began with 6 or 7 families and now we have 150 families a year. It is a big jump in a very short amount of time and I think is really because of the passion that we’ve shown to our families as far as caring for their children, making sure that their well-being is number one in priority for us. Teaching them, giving them a quality and affordable education”.
What are the age ranges of children that your programs are geared toward?
The age ranges are from 6 weeks old to 5 years old and also they have an After school program for 6 to 9 years old at JC Heights Location. This program offers: Homework Assistance, Free Choice – games and group activities, Creative Arts – cooking, crafts, and hobbies, Media Club – computers, games, books and Summer Camp
What is the SSA care and teaching philosophy?
“Our mission is to create a nurturing, safe and respectful environment for our students, parents and teachers. We strive to create an exceptional learning experience for the whole child, cognitively, socially, emotionally, physically, and creatively.”
What is your approach to selecting teachers and staff?
“Passion for teaching is our number one and also we make sure that they have experience with different different age groups”
Why should parents enroll their kids at SSA? What differentiates SSA from other programs in the area special?
When I go and drop my daughter, during meetings and when I pick her up, the staff is always happy and smiling. My Daughter is shy and of course, as most of the kids, cried when she started. I was naturally worried about her adaptation to the school and not being with her all the time. The teachers always made feel like they have it under control, at the end of the day they made sure to tell me everything about her and they were so detailed that I felt safe as she was taking care by a family member. Now, my daughter is fully adapted, doesn’t stop talking about her friends and teachers and she is excited about going to school.
Miss Acosta told us why we should enrol our kids at SSA: “It is Quality education in an affordable price.Teachers of the school personally care about the kids. We became family with our families. We truly do want to know everything about our kids. It is genuine. We treated more as a family affair and we emotionally connect with our families. This is so important when you are caring for children as such a young age. They are so innocent, they are so pure and all they want is to learn, explore and have fun”.
Features to highlight:
Don’t I have to cook? I’m in.
“We offer a variety of different meals. Each meal have the right proportions (carbs, proteins, veggies and fruits), we have the kids taste different kinds of food and we make sure they are organic-natural food. In our schools We have a chef who prepare the meals and we get the fresh ingredients from the supermarket as early is possible. The meals are included in the fees, our school is all inclusive” Told us Karlos Magner, also owner of SSA.
Assist with the Potty training: I’m just in this moment and she is doing great. “ We see the child signs of readiness and we start working on it and advice to the parents to follow the same process as we do so the potty training could be successful”. Cesia explained.
Foreign language exposure: We are a bilingual family and for us it was really important that her school was bilingual as well. Not only my daughter is speaking both but also is learning Sign language. It was a surprise for me when one day I went to pick her up and they were singing and doing the signs. Cesia told us a little bit more about it: “We have such a diverse group and it is so much fun. we all learn different phrases all the time. We teach sign language and spanish and If teachers come with a different language we encourage them to incorporate it in the lessons”.
Daily sheet App: Anxiety the first weeks of school? I was all anxiety since my daughter is 2 years old and It was new to us leaving her with someone else. SSA share this App with us where we can follow up our daughter’s day. Teachers upload pictures of what they are doing, every time they change a diaper, every time she drinks and eats. My husband and I were so glad with this feature and definitely helps a lot with the anxiety. At the end of the day we also receive a summary by email with the pictures attached. This would be a great memory because you can print them up and make albums of her first years in school.
Student-to-teacher ratios for each age group: Infant 3:1, toddlers 4:1 and older kids 5:1
Tuition: Please check tuition fees here: http://smart-startacademy.com/programs/tuition-
Process: Parents should call the specific school you want to enrol your child, Schedule a tour ,take the tour, start the application process, fill some forms and pay $125 one time application fee.
Uniforms: The uniforms has been so practical to me and also they have helped my daughter to understand when she is going to school since she is not in the everyday program. Karlos Magner: “The uniforms have been such a success. The kids show more confident, It helps to low the anxiety, the kids feel part of something, they are part of the team. You have the feeling that you belong to something and that We are all the same”.
Sports and activities:
Cesia Acosta: “Physical activities are so important to us and depending on the school we take them once a day to the park. We have a backyard in the schools where they can play everyday and some days we take them to the park near in the neighborhood. We also have an Indoor gym at Hoboken Location, and during winter or rain days we have zumba, yoga, dance, music class with Rockasorri, we teach them how to kick the ball around, basketball court, etc”
More information, please check: http://smart-startacademy.com/
Related Blogs:The Brunswick School, Bright Horizons, All Saints Day School, Viaquenti Academy, List of other schools
One thought on “Smart Start Academy: Affordable high quality Education in Jersey City”
My son was the first student at the downtown Smart Start location when they first opened.. We had many ups and downs with the school throughout the year he was there.. Given they were brand new to the neighborhood we didn’t have much info to go on when we were first looking, and there weren’t many great options. In summary, they market very well, have good facilities and care about your children, however there is very limited developmental opportunities and a lot of considerations to be had once they start, which I’ve laid out below. I hope this review is seen as insightful for folks that need a comprehensive assessment of the school from a parents perspective.
– Mostly safe
– Clean facility
– Extremely flexible hours, and accommodating if you need to pick-up in the middle of the day those few times you need that open.
– Great location near the Path
– Staff is always very friendly
– Pricing is very competitive with the neighborhood
– Many trips around the neighborhood
– Our child was in an accident with one of the pieces of furniture and they didn’t change anything after the first time, and the same accident happened again, which they then added additional safety for that piece of furniture.. They gave us the reason of it being ‘NJ certified’ furniture as to why they didn’t want to change it after it was shown to be dangerous the first time after the injury..
– Poor communication, resulting in delayed responses and making it difficult to plan accordingly.
– There are an excessive amount of days off that are taken by the school, especially compared to other options.
– There is a very large turnover of staff and only a few main staff members actually stay on for an extended period of time
– Very cheap financially. We gave a month and a half notice that we were going to change schools, and because we didn’t technically give them 2 months notice as per their policy, even though they could easily backfill the role, they still held on to our deposit.
– The staff if paid poorly (which we learned from one of them who is now a waitress at a restaurant in the neighborhood) and when they’re closed they say it’s for staff training, but they do not get paid for the time they are closed
– There is a very weak program for the children when they hit age of 2. There is very little for the child to do to still develop
– Parent / Teacher session was not very informative and only told us things we already knew. We stopped going after the 1st.
– No focus on potty training
– For the waddlers in the back, there is no natural sun that comes in the rooms
– Extremely small open space in the back