In 2009, former Registered Nurse Alise McGregor opened the doors to the first Little Newtons childcare center with just seven students attending, ranging from six weeks of age to kindergarten. Over the course of the last eight years, the childcare group has become one of the most successful and fastest growing in Minnesota, with four locations now open to the parents who follow the ideas of Ms. McGregor: that children should be given a large amount of teaching during their early years.
McGregor believes that the early child development and childcare classes many toddlers and young children attend do not provide the necessary studies, classes, and activities to create the successful students of the future. The most critical period of development in the life of a child is that from birth through the age of five when children can absorb information with ease. McGregor sees the need to develop excellent global citizens who see the world differently and has established her Little Newtons development centers in the Minnesota communities of Becker, Champlin, Maple Grove and Plymouth.
Over the course of their time at the childcare facilities developed by McGregor and her team, children are provided the grounding needed to become lifelong learners. They are instilled with a love of learning and a balance of education and movement to keep their minds and bodies busy throughout their days.
How did you come up with the idea of starting an early child development center?
After finishing my studies and starting work at Fairview Southside Hospital, I thought I’d be an RN for the remainder of what was a very satisfying career. It was when I became pregnant with my daughter Francesca in 2007, I became interested in how she would be educated and cared for after she was born. The nurseries and childcare facilities I visited did not seem to stimulate the infants and toddlers in a way I felt was important during the formative years, and led to me creating my own child development curriculum based on the best research available.
What is a typical day like for Alise McGregor?
My day is mostly spent making sure every aspect of the centers we operate are running to their maximum to benefit the children we care for and educate. There are a huge number of regulations and laws surrounding child care in Minnesota, as there should be, so I have to work closely with my team at each location to make sure we are doing things in the right way for the good of every child passing through our doors.
Where do you find your motivation to succeed each day?
During my career as a nurse, I was very satisfied with my role and the work we completed as a team, but I feel even more satisfaction working with infants and toddlers each day. Providing an education where languages are taught from birth onward, and healthy activities such as yoga are part of the curriculum motivates me to make sure we are always looking to improve the level of teaching and care we provide every day.
Is there anything you would do differently as an entrepreneur?
I’m sure most people would say start my business earlier, but I don’t feel I was in the right position to do this until I was a mother myself. The only change I would probably make would be to open our second location earlier as we were at capacity in Plymouth for two years before opening in Maple Grove.
What is a favorite business strategy you are willing to share with us?
I am a busy mother and businesswoman who has to force herself to find the time to sit back and enjoy what I’ve achieved. Each morning, I like to spend a little time considering what I hope to accomplish over the course of the coming day, week, month, and year to focus my attention on the future and to move forward with my goals. Having done that, I feel better about allowing time for myself when an opportunity to relax comes around.
How do you overcome the business challenges you face?
Caring for hundreds of infants, toddlers and preschoolers is a huge responsibility and requires the focus of the mind every day. Minimizing my emotional reactions to the challenges I face with Little Newtons can often work well, as keeping my thoughts clear and taking an analytical approach to each problem, as I did in my nursing career, has proven successful on most occasions.