Posted on: February 19, 2024 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Carol Borges-Moux, Staff Writer

The Children’s Learning Center is one of the many resources provided by Moraine Valley Community College to assist and support its community. The Children’s Learning Center is more than a daycare; it’s a second home and support system to many little ones and their families. Only being re-opened for a couple of months, it has been able to provide a safe space for children ages 15 months through 6 years, an area for them to grow and explore while still having fun and learning necessary skills that would prepare them to succeed in kindergarten.

The Center’s intentionally chosen curriculum encourages curiosity and fosters creativity through hands-on activities that teach children about the everyday aspects of life. When interviewing Miriam De la Torre, Director of Learning, she mentioned, “For example, in February, although it is Valentine’s Day, we really want to focus on what is kindness, what is love, and how you know you can do good in the world.” She then continued by giving an example of some activities the children take part in.

 

“Obviously, we do introduce math and concepts like that, but it’s through actual objects, it’s through manipulatives, and so [we use] blocks. If it’s going to be three plus three [it] is going to be actual blocks.  So they can visualize, they can see, they can feel what that means. And as they get older and they are able to understand  those abstract concepts, they have that understanding because they were able to use their hands and their brain and playing to learn these things.”

Family involvement is especially encouraged at the Children’s Learning Center through organized family activities and the Procare app. This app makes possible communication between parents and staff members by providing families with real-time updates of their child. The message feature on this app helps  establish  this relationship between the teachers and parents, making families feel at ease with this team effort, keeping  parents in the loop of their children’s care and education.  De la torre, mother to Camila, mentioned in an interview her thoughts on the Procare app. She expressed, “I really like it. I really like getting the photos. I like getting the updates on when she went down for a nap and its all in kind of like real time, if that makes sense. Now, I know that, I don’t receive a thousand photos, is more so like three a day, and then is like it does gives you piece of mind.”  In the same way, this app can also be helpful to parents who might feel anxious about missing any milestones or who are just having a incredibly hard time during this transition period.

The children’s safety is prioritized at the Children’s Learning Center; security cameras connected to the Moraine Valley Police Department, constant checks of children throughout the day, physical sign-in and sign-out with individual person checks, and an incredibly helpful kiosk are methods used by this establishment. The kiosk is connected to the parents’ Procare app and records attendance by a personalized sign-in and sign-out code.

Apart from this, a safe environment in the classroom setting is incredibly important as well. In a separate interview with Kirsten Ranneklev, Executive Director of the Children’s Learning Center, she explained the importance of trust between teachers, parents, and their children. She said, “Initially, when they first start in the program, there is that period of time were it is just working on establishing kind of that trust and that sense of safety here in this environment and so there  are different steps  our teachers take to support that.”  Ranneklev continues by explaining ways to make children feel comfortable in the classroom setting, through a special greeting ritual. By adding ,“The I love you ritual is hitting those four elements of connection making sure there is eye contact, touch, playfulness, presence, and then that helps build [a] sense of trust and that helps encourage them to feel safe in that environment.” This type of environment is crucial to ensure the well-being of the child in the physical, emotional, and developmental aspects. Furthermore, parents are allowed to make occasional, but necessary changes to their schedule at the Children’s Learning Center. The  Center tries its best to accommodate families and their busy schedules, providing full-day and half-day options. Moreover, meals and snacks, including vegetarian and allergy-friendly selections, are also offered at the daycare. 

 The Children Learning Center has tried its best to make tuition as affordable as possible, to ensure these resources are accessible to many. During the registration period, families would be welcomed to take a tour of the facility and take a welcome packet. When proper documentation is returned to the center in addition to the $175 enrollment fee, families would be able to look at enrollment and pick a day to start. Illinois Action For Children Assistance is also accepted. For any questions about registering at the Children’s Learning Center, the staff can be reached at ( 708-974-5729), by visiting the Building S at room S131, or through the Moraine Valley Website.

Community is such a big part of this Center and it’s so beautifully implemented through the involvement of teachers, administrators, and family members. It’s constantly presented in everything they do.

De La Torre stated, “We the teachers, the students, and the parents are what makes the Children’s Learning Center, and there is a quote I remember as I was studying that said that without all of this like its just an empty building and it’s so true. It’s not the actual building, it’s not the facilities, it’s not. It’s the people that are there, the students and the families there that make a program.” This quote sums up what the Children’s Learning Center is all about, serving their community.