One preschooler’s growth during the pandemic

When Anahí’s family began looking for preschools in the area, Neighborhood House’s Parent and Early Childhood Education (PECE) program quickly caught their attention. “One of the reasons is that it was close. And my wife did not feel comfortable speaking English yet, this was another [reason],” says Miguel, Anahí’s father. “And transportation, my wife doesn’t drive yet so it was a perfect fit because we live very close to the school.”

Anahí’s parents quickly saw an improvement in her abilities. “Now she communicates more—she knows her numbers; she knows the letters. And it has helped her communication in both languages,” shares Miguel. “She speaks more in [English and Spanish], and I’ve seen that she understands more in English. She doesn’t speak a lot of it yet, but she understands a lot of it.”

Verónica, Anahí’s mother, shares some of Anahí’s favorite activities at preschool. “One thing is playing,” she laughs. “She really likes when they give her activities like if they have to look for an object or look for an object that has a specific color, she really likes doing that … She also really enjoys when you read to her. A little bit of everything. She likes crafts as well.”

Prior to the pandemic, PECE offered home visits where a preschool teacher would visit and provide one-on-one support to the family around their child’s education. “The teachers went to the house to visit our daughter once a month,” explains Verónica.

In addition, families were invited to class trips and events at the Wellstone Center. Verónica shares that one of the events her family enjoyed the most was a class apple picking trip to Afton Apple Orchard. “There was also an event at the school, and we appreciate everything that the teachers did for us. And Anahí won a prize,” she laughs.

Now, things are quite different. Classes were initially moved online in March, and home visits became virtual too. “The teachers quickly changed the system and we really liked that,” Miguel explains of the safety adjustments. “Everyone did a great job.”

“We did see a change with our daughter,” he says. “Because she was used to seeing people in person, it took her some time to get used to the new way of things when the pandemic started.”

Some of these new things included how students completed schoolwork and how they participated in class. “Now the teachers have done things very differently. Now on the computer my daughter [does much of her work on] the internet. And now she can participate in reading or other activities through the computer.” Verónica adds, “The teachers have always been very helpful—always—before and now.”

Students were able to return to the classroom for a few months when restrictions were eased. Miguel and Verónica share that Anahí was excited to be back with her friends. “She went back with a lot of enthusiasm, and we told her that she was only going to attend two times per week, and she liked that, she said, ‘Well, even that is good!’”

Anahí’s parents are very grateful to Neighborhood House and all the PECE teachers for their work and the role they’ve played in Anahí’s growth and education. “You can see the difference in how she was before and how she is now,” Miguel says. “We are very happy with the program. We are very grateful to the teachers, to the service, to everyone really. In the time that they’ve helped our family, everything has been of our liking and they have helped us a lot. We are very happy with everyone there.”