Renita (Rae) White and Regina Nash believe the life lessons a child learns early on will follow him or her the rest of their lives.

Renita (Rae) White and Regina Nash believe the life lessons a child learns early on will follow him or her the rest of their lives.

That's the theme White chose for the daycare center she is getting ready to open in downtown Delaware at 92 N. Sandusky St. White is the owner, along with her husband Zyrone, and Nash is the center's director.

Work is about done on the Little Sheep Childcare & Learning Center for children ages 3 to 5 1/2, and the licensing process is almost complete, Rae White said. She hopes to be open in January.

As a way for parents to get acquainted with the center and give them a respite to finish holiday chores, she is opening next week for drop-in care from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 21, 22 and 23.

Registration is required and those interested can call (740) 417-4680.

The center is housed in the former Bennett Brown Rodman funeral home, which has been vacant for three years.

White said she looked at several places, including other vacant space downtown, but kept being drawn back to the Sandusky Street building.

The space on the first floor is large and ample enough for separate rooms to divide the children by age group, and still provide a large multi-purpose room for naps, physical activities and a place to play during inclement weather. A grassy area in the back has been fenced in for outside play.

Murals cover the walls.

One reflects the center's name and was drawn by White's 12-year-old daughter Siobhan Bivens. A large yellow sun is depicted rising from behind green hills dotted with wooly sheep.

Another, created by her brother-in-law, Ron Peaks, covers the hallway leading past classrooms into the multi-purpose room. In a series of drawings, it traces a child's development from pre-school through elementary school and middle school and then over a "bridge to the future" to high school and ultimately graduation.

It is meant to carry on the center's theme that what children learn early on will carry them through to graduation, she said.

Space on the first and second floors will be used for future expansion, she said.

The idea for the center came from her minister husband, White said.

At first she was surprised, because her entire background has been in the hospitality field as a chef and caterer for such companies as Hyatt and Marriott. She said she knew she had to surround herself with people who could help turn her and her husband's vision into reality.

In came Nash with almost 15 years of early childhood education experience.

"She instantly caught the vision," after visiting the center for the first time, White said.

"It was warm. Rae was very warm and bright and being here just invigorates you," Nash said.

White said the women found they share the same philosophy, that "the foundations you lay and values you install in pre-school will follow a child the rest of their lives."

Children attending the center must be potty-trained.

Center hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Parents can choose from a variety of options for their child, either full-time or part-time. The center will accept children who qualify for daycare subsidized by the county's job and family services department.

For more information, call (740) 417-4680.