A message from our CEO Zakiyyah Boone
While operating as a nonprofit in 2021 presented it’s own set of challenges, when I reflect on all we accomplished, I feel a tremendous sense of pride and gratitude for the amazing staff, families, children and partners that make up the Wonderspring community. I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy New Year. Before we kick off 2022, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the highlights of the past year. I also want to remind you that it is not too late to make a tax deductible donation to support our work. Your gift ensures that we can continue to help children and families thrive.
We opened a gorgeous brand new center
After months of anticipation, Wonderspring opened the doors of New Market West–a gorgeous brand-new center in West Philadelphia. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Wonderspring joined with elected officials, early childhood stakeholders and community partners at a festive celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony.
We connected with the community
Despite the challenges of COVID we found numerous creative and safe ways to connect with the families and communities we serve. Big hits this year were the Narberth and Wynnewood Art shows that highlighted the incredible creativity of our children and our first annual Community Fun Day, which thanks to the collaboration of so many partners, was a giant hit with children and families alike.
We gave back
Wonderspring is committed to building empathy and caring in our children. We believe you are never to young to give back to the community and become a socially responsible citizen. In that spirit of giving, this year our Colonial school-age program collected a record 456 items including canned food, clothing, toys and books for the Colonial Neighborhood Council. Our Narberth program partnered with with the Pajama Program to provide pajamas for children in need.
We advocated for the needs of children and families
Working with local and national media outlets, Wonderspring took a lead role in helping our elected officials understand the the childcare staffing crisis, its effect on economic recovery, and the need to support a significant and sustained investment in early childhood education.
We are so grateful for the generosity of our families and partners who supported us every step of the way this year. You help ensure we can continue to provide the highest-quality early education and care. If you would like to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the children and families we serve, it’s not too late to make a tax deductible donation! Just click the button below.
Ask Amanda Rubiano what one word most describes Wonderspring and she will tell you it is FAMILY.
Before her daughter Amiyah started at the Powelton Village center three years ago, Amanda had been a stay at home mom. So, understandably she had some reservations about returning to work and putting Amiyah in care. But those reservations quickly faded.
“From the very first day, we felt so welcomed, it put us immediately at ease,” she recalls. “The staff was great about staying in touch and letting us know how Amiyah was doing. They sent photos and texts and emails, so I felt like I was connected to her day.”
And it wasn’t long before Amiyah was equally comfortable at Wonderspring. “Initially, Amiyah had a hard time adjusting and clung to me at drop off, but the teachers did such an incredible job helping her get acclimated that now she runs off happily with her teacher. It is amazing to see how much she has progressed and how independent she has become.”
In fact, Amiyah and her two-and-a-half-year-old sister Ariyah feel so at home at Wonderspring, that even on days they aren’t in school they follow their Wonderspring routines. “When they are home, they sing the songs they learn at school, do their ABCs and numbers and even pretend they are having circle time or playing with their school friends,” says Amanda.
Amanda and her partner Isaiah were particularly grateful that Wonderspring stayed so connected to their family during the COVID-19 lockdown. “Their teachers regularly checked in with us and interacted with the kids through facetime and Zoom,” she says. “They also sent lesson plans and activities for the kids to work on every week. I was still working, and Isaiah was home with them all day, so he really appreciated having ways to keep the kids busy and engaged.
I trust Wonderspring to care for my kids because it is such a family-oriented place and everyone on staff is so caring. There’s a real sense of community.
Help ensure that all children have access to high quality care and education. Make a gift to the Harwood Scholarship fund so more children can be part of the Wonderspring family. Wonderspring is a nonprofit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
As a nonprofit that strives to ensure access to high-quality learning and care to all children, Wonderspring is committed to advancing diversity equity and inclusion both in our employment practices as well as our services for children. Thus, we are thrilled to announce that with the support of the William Penn Foundation, Wonderspring is working with two Diversity Fellows from Temple University’s Diversifying Early Education Leadership program (DEEL@Temple). Our new Fellows will to assist the organization in achieving its goals of:
- nurturing a culture of diversity equity and inclusion among staff
- supporting teaching practices that acknowledge and respect multiple cultures, languages and practices in the classroom
- proactively recruiting and developing the talents of ethnically diverse persons for administrative and leadership positions.
We are thrilled to welcome Diversity Fellows Sophia Ezomoghene and Omosi Anabui.
Sophia Ezomoghene is a lead early childhood literacy specialist for the Free Library of Philadelphia. She began her career in education as an AmeriCorps volunteer at an alternative high school serving older and underserved students. Later she taught prekindergarten and kindergarten at a charter school in Washington, DC. Before joining the Free Library of Philadelphia, she was a Head Start teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. Sophia earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science and International Affairs from Northeastern University, as well as her Master’s in Education from American University.
Omosi Anabui is an Impact Manager at City Year Philadelphia where much of her work is focused on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. She guides a team of 12 young adults looking to create equitable interventions spaces that enable students who attend Forrest Elementary School to have critical conversations about race and other parts of identity. Omosi has a Bachelor’s degree in Biopsychology and has served as an Americorps Member and Team Leader.
As we embark on this critical effort, we will be soliciting the input of our families and stakeholders. We look forward to working together to ensure all voices are heard and that all of our children, families and staff are valued and engaged.
Did you ever hear the expression “play is the work of children”? Well the fact is, play is an integral part of the way children learn. Play helps children develop:
- cognitive skills – like math and problem solving in a pretend grocery store
- physical abilities – like balancing blocks and running on the playground
- new vocabulary – like the words used in imaginative play
- social skills – like playing together in a pretend car wash
- literacy skills – like creating a menu for a pretend restaurant
What’s more, play benefits children’s physical and emotional health by helping them grow strong and healthy, counteracting obesity and providing an outlet for anxiety and stress.
Undirected play also allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. It enables to practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace and discover their own areas of interest
Wonderspring recognizes the value of play as a way to tap into a child’s natural curiosity. Our programs utilize the Creative Curriculum which promotes investigation and discovery as a fundamental part of learning.
To learn more about our programs and our approach to learning click the button below.
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Your child’s social and emotional health is just as important as their physical health. Social emotional health significantly affects a child’s overall development. learning and well being. In fact, studies by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation state that an important component of early school readiness and healthy child development is meeting a child’s social-emotional needs in preschool. Moreover, they note that emphasis on social emotional learning (SEL) in preschool can enable children to thrive academically, mentally, and physically in kindergarten and through to adulthood.
At Wonderspring, promoting the social and emotional health of the children we serve is a top priority and is infused in every part of the day. Last year, through grants from William Penn Foundation and PNC Foundation, Wonderspring was able to purchase and implement the Second Step Social Emotional Curriculum at all its centers. Utilizing weekly themes songs, activities, puppets, and posters, Second Step helps children better understand, manage and express emotions and empathy, develop positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. All Wonderspring teachers have been trained on the Second Step Curriculum and receive ongoing technical assistance to help them integrate the program in their classroom routines.
Since implementing the program, teachers report they are better able to handle challenging behaviors and utilize positive behavior management strategies. They also note that the children are better able to identify their feelings and utilize a variety of calming techniques for their minds and bodies.
Angela Giuliani a preK teacher at the Narberth center is extremely enthusiastic about the curriculum. “It has improved the overall tone of the classroom,” she says. “The children are more empathetic because it helps them recognize the feelings of their friends and makes them think about ways they can help. They love role playing with the puppets and using the puppets to talk through problems. It gives them the confidence that they know the answers. Then, when we give them positive feedback for implementing what they learn, it reinforces that confidence.”
Learn more about how Social Emotional Learning is implemented in our classrooms.