Jennifer Heiden, Center Director
Meet Jennifer Heiden, Our Center Director
At KinderCare Since: 2003
Education: Master's Degree
Favorite Children's Book: The Giving Tree
Meet Jennifer Heiden! She is the Center Director at Willowbrook KinderCare in Illinois. Jennifer attended Illinois State University, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Family and Consumer Science. She has been with KinderCare since 2003. Every day, Jennifer enjoys helping children learn and discover their true potential. Her favorite quote is, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
AMERICA’S MOST ACCREDITED
Nationally only 10% of daycares are accredited - nearly 100% of our learning centers are. That’s a big difference, and that means KinderCare kids are getting the very best. Here’s why.
Willowbrook KinderCare Programs
Infant Programs (6 weeks–1 year)
Leaving your baby in someone else’s care is a big step. Everyone at our centers—most importantly, our naturally gifted infant teachers—will work with you to make sure the transition goes smoothly. When you step into our infant classroom, you’ll see how much we want your infant to feel safe, loved, and ready to explore their world.
Toddler Programs (1–2 Years)
Everything in our toddler classroom is designed for little explorers. That’s because a lot is going on at this age. When your child is wandering all over the place, that means they’re learning and discovering new things every day. We’ll help them explore their interests (and find new ones!) as they play and learn.
Discovery Preschool Programs (2–3 Years)
This age is filled with so much wonder and curiosity. That’s why we offer a ton of books and toys and bring artwork down to kids eye level. Children in discovery preschool also begin to learn how we all work together in a classroom. Simple math and science, pretend play, and group play help them get used to a more structured school setting.
Preschool Programs (3–4 Years)
This age is all about expression, when kids really start to form their own ideas about what they want to play and how they want to create. Every day in our preschool classroom, your child will explore science experiments, create artwork, and play pretend—all the skills needed for their big next step: kindergarten!
Prekindergarten Programs (4–5 Years)
When you walk into one of our pre-K classrooms, you’ll see artwork and writing displayed around the room. Labels are everywhere to help kids connect letters with words. You’ll also see pictures on the walls that reflect the families in our community. Your child will also deepen their knowledge in language, math, science, Spanish, and social skills.
Interactive Kindergarten (5–6 Years)
Kindergarten is a critical year for young learners. Experienced KinderCare teachers will tap into your child’s natural curiosity to help get them even more prepared for elementary school. Our engaging lessons make the most of current technology while offering plenty of hands-on play and exploration.
School Break Programs (preschool, prekindergarten, and school-age)
Winter break, spring break, summer break—when school’s out (but you still need to work), you can count on KinderCare to provide a safe and supportive learning environment that’s focused on fun. We welcome children ages 5–12 during school break times and make sure they have a sensational, screen-free experience they won’t forget.
Participating Child Care Aware Center
KinderCare partners with Child Care Aware® of America to offer fee assistance for Active Duty military families and flexible support to fit their needs when care at a Child Development Center on the installation is not available.
Learning Adventures - Enrichment Program
Cooking Academy™ (3 – 12 Years)
In Cooking Academy, kids learn new recipes from cultures around the world and develop a healthy relationship with food. They’ll whip up everything from Southwest rainbow lettuce wraps to pumpkin muffins, building their skills in STEM, communication, and more along the way. And yes—little chefs get to eat their culinary creations!
Music Explorers™ (2 – 4 Years)
KinderCare families are already giving a standing ovation to our newest Learning Adventures program: Music Explorers! Kids will learn to sing, move, listen, play instruments, and even create their own tunes. Our original curriculum blends math, science, social studies, literacy, and mindfulness (think yoga!) for a uniquely KinderCare way of learning the foundations of music.
Phonics Adventures® (2 – 4 Years)
Learning how to read is a whole lot of fun at KinderCare! We help kids grow to love books and words (and get ready for kindergarten) in our Phonics Adventures program. From discovering the basics of vowels to practicing poetry, kids learn all about letters and sounds in small-group lessons made just for their age group. (Bonus: Kids who attend our phonics program are more prepared than their peers for school—and we have the data to prove it.)
STEM Innovators (3-8 Years)
You’ve probably heard a lot about how important STEM education is for your child, but what does that really mean? Our STEM Innovators program takes kids’ natural ability to make sense of the world and applies it to robotics, chemistry, coding, geology, and more. While your child experiments, they’ll discover how to use technology to do amazing things!
We're the only company in early childhood education to select teachers based on natural talent. Being a great educator isn't enough though. KinderCare teachers are also amazing listeners, nurturers, boo-boo fixers, and smile-makers. Put more simply, we love our teachers and your child will, too.
Meet just a few of our amazing KinderCare teachers!
A KINDERCARE TEACHER WITH
An Artist's Heart
"My classroom is full of art!” says Mary Annthipie-Bane, an award-winning early childhood educator at KinderCare. Art and creative expression, she says, help children discover who they really are.
We put our best-in-class teachers in a best-in-class workplace. We're so proud to have been named one of Gallup's 37 winners of the Great Workplace Award. When you put great teachers in an engaging center, your children will experience an amazing place to learn and grow.
Don't take our word for it. Hear what our families have to say about our amazing center!
I’m writing this note in response to the changes that have been (and continue to be) implemented at the Willowbrook KinderCare over the last year or so. As a parent handing off my children every morning to your staff, I have a tremendous vested interest in the development of this facility and its faculty. As creatures of habit, all too often change is upsetting to all parties involved: parents, staff and, even worse, the children. In this instance, the strategic and tactical changes at this facility have been REMARKABLE. We have noticed a significant improvement overall state of facility. It is more cleanly and neatly organized than when we first came to KinderCare nearly two years ago and the re-organization of space within the center has also been well executed. The dedicated teaching area for Phonics, Music, etc. and the Gross Motor Room are great examples of utilizing the facility to its fullest potential. Of particular importance to my family are the additional programs that are available at the center; Phonics, Music and Me, and Cooking. Each one of these offerings has had a tremendous positive and noticeable impact on our children’s development.
My wife and I believe that these improvements could not have been implemented without the positive tenacity and leadership that Laura Peterson and Jackie Bulthuis and their staff bring to “school” every day. It’s clear to me through observations while at the school, and interactions with my children, that each of the teachers we have encountered are more empowered today to do what they do best – to enrich children’s lives. One only needs to look to my children to see that they, and this facility, are thriving. It would only take a Saturday morning with our family to see first-hand what my girls have learned each week…as they ask Mom and Dad to sit for "circle time and reading time". My children have a structure and an enthusiasm that I believe stems directly from their teacher’s desire to make the most of each lesson.
It must be highlighted that the most important improvement at the center has been in human capital -- the center’s teachers. The knowledgeable, caring and loving staff at the center truly makes the difference. We are so very thankful for everyone at this center…and for their contribution and dedication in enriching our children’s lives.
The Grossman Family
Jim & Rajka - KinderCare Parent
I really don't know how to start and where to start from. Enrolling my son into this KinderCare Center was the best decision that our family could ever make. I am so happy and satisfied with this preschool. Ms. Laura and her staff are amazing! My son started two years ago when he was only one year old. :-) The beginning was a little hard for both of us but Ms. Debbie, Ms. Nikia ans Ms. Sarahi were doing a great job keeping him interested and happy. After a year he moved with Ms. Sarahi and Ms. Erica. Not only did they help my son with his social growth, but they helped him to grow academically, too. Before KinderCare he was confused because our family is bilingual, but with their help my son has learned to speak both languages. While he is there I know that my son is in excellent hands and that there is no need to worry at all. Ms. Erica and Ms. Sarahi are responding to each child individually depending on their needs and habits. My baby is very happy with his teachers, and the day for him always begins and ends with hugs and love from both teachers. With them we truly feel like one big happy family.
I can't thank these women enough, and I can never say enough great things about this school. These teachers are not just teachers in the classroom; they take excellent care of the children as if they were their own. I can guarantee you that this is a safe, fun and loving place for your children. It is definitely worth enrolling.
Kate - KinderCare Parent
Who Are KinderCare Families?
They hail from hundreds of cities across the country from countless backgrounds, and proudly represent every walk in life. What our families have in common, though, is the want to give their children the best start in life. We are so proud to be their partner in parenting.
Hear from just a few of our amazing KinderCare families.
A Globe-Trotting Family Finds A
Home in Houston
Four young children, four different passports, two languages, two full-time jobs…oh, and a few triathlons thrown in for good measure. Meet the globe-trotting Colettas—a family on the go.
Frequently Asked Questions
What accreditations does KinderCare have?
We are your trusted caregiver. Our centers are state-licensed and regularly inspected to make sure everything meets or exceeds standards, including child-to-teacher ratios and safe facilities. Our centers aren’t just licensed—most are accredited, too! Find out more.
Do you offer part-time schedules at Willowbrook KinderCare?
Everybody’s schedule is different. We’re happy to offer quality, affordable part-time and full-time childcare. Drop-in care may also be available. Reach out to your Center Director to learn more.
How does naptime work at Willowbrook KinderCare?
Our teachers meet every child’s needs during naptime. Our teachers know how to get babies to nap. In fact, they are pros at getting children of any age to nap. Visit our article on "10 Ways We Help Kids Get a Great Daycare Nap" to learn more.
Do you support alternative diets?
We strive to be as inclusive as possible. To that point, we provide a vegetarian option at mealtime, take care to not serve common allergens and can adapt menus based on your child’s food sensitivities. If your child has additional needs, we’ll work with you to figure out a plan.
Are meals included in tuition? Can I choose to send my child with lunch?
We provide nutritious meals and snacks developed by a registered dietician to meet the needs of rapidly growing bodies and minds. If your child has special dietary requirements and you would prefer to bring in their lunch, please make arrangements with the center director.
Does my child need to be potty-trained?
Every child begins toilet learning at a different age. Until your child shows an interest in toilet learning, we’ll provide diaper changes on an as-needed basis. When your child shows an interest, we'll discuss how to work together to encourage toilet learning.