Children’s Learning Adventure Offers Spectacular Childcare Amenities

Writer  /  Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer  /  Amy Payne

Jeff Haines is dazzled by Carmel’s family-based Children’s Learning Adventure. And he’s not the only one.

“I’m blown away by this facility,” Haines says. “The amenities and available programs for children are out-of-this-world amazing.”

“What an awesome place,” adds Lillian Gorski Mack. “The state-of-the-art facility is unlike any I’ve ever seen.”

Though the Carmel facility opened in October 2016, Children’s Learning Adventure (CLA) Childcare Centers were created in 2008 by founders who had worked in the childcare industry for more than two decades and were determined to provide a better way to operate a preschool learning academy. Over the last nine years, they’ve opened 42 locations around the country.

CLA’s founders based their new model of learning off of research surrounding early childhood development and brain development. Then they fashioned an enriching educational environment designed to increase individualized, one-on-one attention with subject-specific teachers by having students rotate around the school throughout the day — hence, the “learning adventure.”

“Our educational curriculum is implemented similarly to an older child’s school schedule,” explains Daniel Petersen, Vice President of Development of Children’s Learning Adventure Childcare Centers. “Our kids enroll into a homeroom setting, and from there, they experience seven different specialty learning environments, including a math and science lab, art studio, television studio, library, garden center, a miniature city and a professional-grade cooking classroom. Each of these environments is utilized to reinforce curriculum concepts initiated in the homeroom setting.”

For example, if the subject of the day in homeroom is “apples,” in Picture Paradise, the kids might perform a news broadcast about the weather and discuss how the rain will help their apples grow. In Laboratory Lagoon, they’ll study the science of why the combination of rain and sun helps the apples grow. In Culinary Creations, the preschoolers may mix and measure ingredients to make apple pie.

“Many people are talking about STEM learning these days,” says Petersen, referring to the acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “CLA takes STEM a step further by teaching a STEAM approach where the ‘A’ is for art.”

Another distinguishing factor of CLA is the Studio, an idea conceived when one of the founders saw his wife carting their daughter back and forth across town for various lessons and practices and thought, “Wouldn’t it be convenient if we just had one place where children could do it all?”


The Studio is designed to do just that. Offering instruction in martial arts, gymnastics, cheerleading, yoga, dance and music, the Studio is a one-stop-shop for shaping students’ extracurricular activities. Dance styles include hip hop, Zumba, ballet and tap. In music classes, students can learn bass guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, drum and vocals.

“We are the leader in after-school and summer camp offerings for school-age children [in that we] bring something to the table no other provider does,” Petersen SAUS. “We dedicate an entire wing of our campus — approximately 10,000 square feet — to K-6th graders with amenities designed around their interests.”

This includes bowling lanes (yes, the real thing, with ball return and automatic scoring), indoor basketball court, iPads, Xbox Kinect, cooking school, and modern dance studio, complete with a light-up floor and 16-screen video wall.

While many preschool academies only employ a director and an assistant director, CLA has an impressive and extensive support staff that includes eight managers, each assigned to a specific role ( like accountant, health & safety, etc.), in addition to the director, assistant director and all of the teachers.

Students love traveling around the 33,000-sq. ft. school and enjoying the amazing amenities. Parents appreciate the school’s advanced security system, which includes securely fenced playgrounds, a bank of surveillance monitors, fingerprint scanner for pick-up and locked doors with a “buzz in” system.

Sara Baldwin-Schatz, who has sent her 3-year-old son to Carmel’s CLA for several months, is impressed by the advances her child has made in such a brief time.

“He’s only going part-time and I can already see a difference in the way he processes information,” Baldwin-Schatz says. “He has become even more analytical and his counting has improved greatly. He spouts off info about bugs, plants, the weather and more.”

Petersen has attended CLA grand openings throughout the country, and, without fail, he always witnesses two constants at every opening.
“Parents say to me, ‘I wish we had this when we were kids,’” Petersen says. “Also, there’s always at least one child who gets dragged out while crying because he or she doesn’t want to leave.”
Who can blame them? Adventures
are awesome!
Note: A CLA center is currently being built in Fishers and is scheduled to open in early-to-mid-fall 2017. The Carmel Children’s Learning Adventure is located at 760 E. 116th Street. For more information, visit

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