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Start Early & Enter Kindergarten Ready to Learn

Educare Chicago parent and mother of three, Kapria Robinson, shares why preschool has been integral to her children’s development.

September 7, 2021
  • Early Learning and Care
  • Family Engagement
  • Blog
  • Resource

As educators and parents of three young children, Kapria Robinson and her husband know starting early shapes not only a child’s kindergarten experience, but their entire educational journey.

“We wanted to make sure we provided early learning programs for our own children that supported their academic, social and emotional skills. And where they got to experience joy every day at school; a place where they were happy, knew that they were loved, and would thrive,” she recalls.

So when Kapria toured Educare Chicago on the recommendation of their foster care agency five years ago, she knew she has found the right program for her family. She enrolled her two eldest children, Alexander and Catalina, who were just 16-months and 6-months at the time.

Photo of Kapria, Alexander & Catalina
Kapria, Alexander & Catalina

“Our case manager said families who had their children at Educare Chicago were thriving and that they were supportive of the blended foster-adoptive family dynamic,” Kapria remembers. “With the foster care process, they were very open to things like working with biological parents. Also, the smaller class sizes and the student-to-teacher ratio is amazing. To have three adults, working with kids when they’re younger just makes all the work of difference.”

I strongly believe that all children should attend preschool prior to going to an elementary school, just so that they get those beginning foundational skills in a classroom setting.

Kapria Robinson
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An Approach Making a World of Difference

Parent engagement and coaching is at the core of Educare Chicago’s approach, which begins before the first day of school.

“Early on, Educare staff wanted to learn what our kids were interested in and what life was like outside of school. In fact, we met the teachers and had already spoke with the family support specialist in our own home by the time the kids began school,” Kapria reflects.

From Kapria’s perspective, “Educare’s approach is years ahead of most other programs. They make sure to ask a lot of higher order thinking questions. They engage the kids in a lot of discussions, they encourage them to, you know, have their own voice and to have their own throughs — and they positively affirm them.”

“Their team made sure that the kids got what they needed. When my son had challenges with separation anxiety, teachers like Miss Danielle would reach out with different stories we could read with him to make that transition a little easier. It has been a wonderful experience for us,” she continues.

Photo of Catalina & Alexander
Catalina & Alexander

Educare Chicago’s family engagement and parent coaching helped Kapria and her husband stay fully informed about their children’s education and able to reinforce behaviors and learnings at home.

“They would make sure that we understood what our kids were learning. During the parent engagement activities, they really make sure to break down different ways to engage your kids around math, literacy, STEM and art activities,” Kapria shares. “They helped us to truly understand how to engage our children, what questions to ask them, what vocabulary to focus on.

In addition to empowering Kapria and her husband in their role as their children’s first and best teachers, the Educare Chicago community offers a space to meet, engage with and learn from other parents.

“It gave us an opportunity to connect with some of the other parents, which is hugely important in building a community for your children, so that you have other families for them to visit for play dates and that share the same ideas about what is important for their children and their education.”

Ready for Kindergarten and a Lifetime of Learning

Quality early learning and care programs like Educare Chicago help children like Kapria’s enter kindergarten ready to learn. Because early childhood is a time of rapid development in multiple areas — physical, emotional, cognitive and social growth — kindergarten readiness is more than observing a child recite shapes, numbers and colors. A child who is ready for kindergarten is curious, can form relationships and has social interactions with nurturing adults and peers.

Our research has found that more time in Educare programs is associated with higher ratings of social and emotional skills among children, including teacher-rated self-control and initiative. When children leave Educare for elementary school, the majority are academically, socially and emotionally prepared for kindergarten.

Kapria believes Educare Chicago’s approach helped spark an ongoing love for learning within her children that has set them up for a lifetime of success.

Photo of Kapria & her family
Kapria & her family

“Educare’s approach to involving parents in their children’s education journey and constantly getting feedback has been a huge part of why our children are so successful and driven to keep learning,” she says. “They not only taught the preschool curriculum in ways that were engaging, but they also expanded it to include skills or concepts we were interested in our children learning and based on their assessments of what our kids were ready to learn.”

Today, Kapria’s two oldest children have graduated Educare Chicago and are thriving in Chicago Public Schools. Alexander is in first grade and Catalina is in kindergarten, and both recently tested into gifted and classical programs. Her youngest, a 2-year old, is currently enrolled at Educare Chicago.

“Alexander just completed his first year in a gifted kindergarten program and received straight As, awards for citizenship, being a good friend to his classmates and being helpful. He’s accelerated through the remote learning challenges they provided. I know a lot of that had to do with the competence he had in his skills and the motivation Educare Chicago gave him that if he wanted to do something he could absolutely do it,” Kapria proudly shares.

Given her children’s early education success and her own work in education, Kapria advocates that all children should start early.

“I strongly believe that all children should attend preschool prior to going to an elementary school, just so that they get those beginning foundational skills in a classroom setting. Children just excel when they have the opportunity to interact and communicate with and learn from one another.”

Learn more about Educare Chicago and the Educare Learning Network and their approach to early childhood development and kindergarten readiness.

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