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.
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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.
Narberth, PA—Wonderspring Early Education, a nonprofit provider of high-quality, safe, convenient, and affordable early childhood education throughout Greater Philadelphia, has named Zakiyyah Boone Chief Executive Officer.
According to Surge Ghosh, President of Wonderspring’s Board of Directors, Boone’s appointment culminated a thorough search for a strong leader to move the organization forward at a time when the child care sector faces unprecedented challenges. “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate for the already fragile early childcare sector has become more precarious. Zakiyyah has the perfect mix of experience, innovation, leadership and passion to help Wonderspring not only weather this storm but empower the organization to thrive.”
Boone, who previously served as the organization’s Interim CEO and Chief Program Officer, has more than 20 years of experience as an early childhood and youth development professional. Prior to joining Wonderspring, she served as Vice President of Early Childhood at the Greater Philadelphia YMCA where she managed a budget of $20M, identified growth and partnership opportunities and ensured the appropriateness of facilities to deliver high-quality programs. She has cut the ribbon on 10 child care centers and launched multiple evidence-based youth development programs across the Greater Philadelphia region. She holds a BS in Elementary Education from Millersville University and an MBA from Kaplan University.
Since taking on the role of Interim CEO in April, Boone has successfully managed the safe reopening of the organization’s four early childcare centers and its school-age camps in Philadelphia and Montgomery County. She has also been instrumental in the development of Wonderspring’s newly constructed center in the neighborhood transformation project known as New Market West. While acknowledging the challenges posed by the pandemic, she is optimistic about the future of Wonderspring.
“Child care is critical for the recovery of our economy,” she says. “We have forged strong relationships with the families we serve and they rely on us to provide high-quality care and education for their children. Everyone at Wonderspring, from our outstanding teachers and center directors to our highly agile central administration team, is dedicated to finding innovative and safe ways to meet the changing needs of our families throughout the pandemic and beyond. To that end, we are exploring a host of ideas including onsite school-age programming for children whose schools are not offering in-person instruction.”
“As a mother of three, I am keenly aware of the impact high-quality early education can have on children and families. I am committed to not only providing that level of care to the families we currently serve but to ensuring that all children have equitable access to the highest quality of education and care.”
Wonderspring Early Education is a nonprofit organization working to develop, provide and advocate for high-quality early childhood education, school-age programs, and related services in support of all children. The organization provides direct service programs to over 1,000 children through its 10 locations within the Greater Philadelphia region.
Check out our Summer 2020 newsletter here. Click the image to access the online version with clickable links.
Wonderspring Early Education (formerly Montgomery Early Learning Centers) will open a brand-new center in New Market West in the Spring of 2020. Located at 59th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, directly adjacent to a public transportation hub, New Market West is a neighborhood transformation development that will also feature primary health care, support for previously homeless single-parent families, behavioral health services, and retail.
Community members are invited to tour the new facility at one of three open house events that will take place:
- Tuesday, April 21, 10am-noon
- Wednesday, April 22, noon-2pm
- Thursday, April 23, 5pm-7pm
According to Wonderspring CEO, Ann O’Brien, the New Market West center will serve infants through school age children. Like all of Wonderspring’s early childhood centers, it will provide high-quality, evidence-based programming that meets the state’s Early Learning Standards by focusing on the intellectual, developmental, social, emotional, and relational aspects of the whole child.
The new site will also feature a beautiful outdoor learning space that will offer children many opportunities for exploration and connecting with nature. Through a generous grant from PNC Foundation, the outdoor space will be outfitted with playthings that spark imagination and promote open-ended play and learning.
The New Market West site will accept ELRC subsidy and Wonderspring anticipates partnering with a variety of other community supports to fund additional families as soon as the new center is eligible to apply for those resources.
For more information about the new center contact Steve Cotilus at firstname.lastname@example.org.