Four-year-old “Jake” entered Laurel Learning Center (LLC) while living with his mom at Cornerstones’ Embry Rucker Community Shelter. His first few months at LLC turned out to be a very difficult adjustment, not just for Jake, but his classmates and teacher, too.
Jake had never been to a pre-school before or interacted with children in that setting. He had not learned letters or numbers or shapes and so was at a disadvantage academically to other children in his class who were being well prepared to enter kindergarten. Jake was frustrated and took his frustrations out on everyone around him; tearing up other children’s artwork, knocking down their blocks…anything to get a reaction. His teacher saw how he suffered from low self-esteem; she understood how traumatized he was from losing his father, being homeless, not having the advantages other children have from being raised in a home where parents can afford the time and money to invest in their children.
With other Cornerstones’ staff working with Jake’s mom to get her into housing and to find a job, Jake’s teacher set out to get him ready emotionally, socially, and academically for kindergarten. Empowering him with opportunities to take on little “jobs” at LLC, Jake’s confidence began to soar; reading stories with him helped calm Jake down and expose him to a world of possibilities; patiently helping him reach learning milestones, brought him academically closer to his peers, which enhanced his engagement with them. The unique, customized care LLC staff can provide to their students means that children like Jake, whose little lives are impacted by trauma, aren’t labeled and isolated, but loved and integrated.
When Jake enters kindergarten, he will not be at a disadvantage now, playing catch-up and becoming another statistic; he will be ready to embrace the full learning experience and, by remaining in the pre- and after-school program at LLC, Jake will stay connected to a network of devoted care-givers and teachers who will show him that he can always have hope for a better tomorrow today.