“You need to raise your hand so the teacher can see you.”

“It would be better if you didn’t scream.”

“I know you can do this.”

These words aren’t coming from a preschool teacher, rather this is the way four-year-old Kimberly G. encourages her classmates at KidWorks preschool.

Not too long ago, Maura, Kimberly’s mother, was worried that her very talkative, socially confident and strong-willed daughter might actually be a little too disruptive or combative at home and in class. Yet, Maura is also impressed by the spunk she sees in her young daughter.

“I see Kimberly as having a very different personality than her older brother, Irwin, and sister, Ashley,” Maura says. “Kimberly communicates about all she does, plus what she learns from her teachers and friends. She’s very detailed.”

Two of Maura’s older children had been enrolled in our preschool and they were shyer and more reserved than Kimberly. Maura learned to have great confidence in our staff and knew she could bring her concerns to them.

She spoke often with Idalia Galdamez, our Preschool Director; Alma Magana, a Preschool Teacher and Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator.

“When a parent approaches the teacher with a concern, we base our conversation on what we observe in the classroom and provide developmental guidance to the parents so they understand what is normal, a moderate concern or a red flag,” Idalia says. “While we’re not medical experts, most of our preschool staff have been trained in the early childhood education field for more than 10 years and are ready to help guide and/or provide resources to the parents.”

Adds Idalia, “In Kimberly’s case, her story is one of confidence and leadership. As the youngest member of her family, she’s learned from her older siblings’ experiences along the way.” With the help of Idalia, Alma and Sonia, it didn’t take long for Maura to recognize that Kimberly is actually demonstrating the very kinds of leadership skills and traits KidWorks strives to develop with every student enrolled in our programs.

“Our open-door policy helps us to build a relational bridge with our parents,” Alma says. “We take the time to meet with them and to follow up. We continue helping after their child has been promoted from our preschool.

“As teachers, we know our little ones’ strengths and areas that need extra attention in order to help them flourish,” Alma says. “Kimberly is a role model to her classmates. We intentionally seat others next to her so she can show them by example and help them. She makes sure that as she is doing her work, her neighbor at the table is doing his or her work, too. If a child is having a difficult time, Kimberly stops and helps, using a soft tone of voice. As teachers, we reinforce her leadership skills.”     

“Maura has definitely grown her parenting skills throughout the years she and her family have been a part of KidWorks,” Sonia says. “Maura used to be very quiet, shy and introverted. Little by little, she became more engaged with the programs and workshops we offer. Maura says these have helped her become a better mom, wife and person overall.”

Adds Sonia, “Maura is a mom who knows she can count on KidWorks for any need or concern she or her family may have. There was a situation where Maura asked if her son, who is now in sixth grade, could receive extra help with a specific subject he was struggling with in school. The KidWorks after school program team was able to collaborate with Maura and partnered her son with a volunteer tutor who worked with her son one-on-one and helped him improve in the subject.”

As our youngest leader, Kimberly is more than eager to share her opinion about KidWorks: “I like KidWorks because my friends come to learn, the teachers are kind, they teach us and take us out to the playground to play.”

Maura sees a bright future for the young daughter she now sees as confident in her views, quick to help others, a great learner and blossoming leader.  

“My dream for Kimberly is that she becomes any kind of professional she wants to be, perhaps a teacher,” Maura says. “Kimberly says she wants to be a nurse.”

With Kimberly, as with all students who enroll in our programs, KidWorks’ goal is to nurture the God-given talents and abilities they will use throughout their academic years, their careers and on their journeys through life.

Keep up the great work, Kimberly. You not only inspire your classmates in your preschool class, but all of us at KidWorks!

 By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer