Velma Thomas Early Childhood Center students weave a word wall of memories of their school experience on Thursday, June 11, in front of the school at 3625 S. Hoyne Ave., Chicago.

Velma Thomas Opens Early Childhood Education Enrollment for Fall 2020

Published June 16, 2020

The Velma Thomas Early Childhood Center at 3625 S. Hoyne Ave., Chicago, has announced the opening of enrollment for its fall 2020 cohort of preschoolers and their families seeking an early education program in the McKinley Park neighborhood. The school, in operation since 1986, employs the child-directed Reggio Emilia approach to early learning alongside its dual language, Spanish/English curriculum.

 
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"Many of my friends, whom I trust, sent their kids there," said McKinley Park resident Kate Moser, who has a daughter graduating into kindergarten from Velma Thomas and a son starting there in the fall. "When my oldest was a baby, we lived across the street, and I could see all the fun activities they would do in the courtyard."

 
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Moser, who has served for two years on the Local School Council for Velma Thomas (and plans to serve two more), lauded the school's "truly constructivist" philosophy. "Children's interest drives the unit plans, not the other way around," she said.

Dual Language Benefits

Velma Thomas Early Childhood Center enrollment poster 202006 engThe enrollment poster for Velma Thomas Early Childhood Center shares application information. Spanish language and Chinese language versions are also avaialble.Velma Thomas parent Yesina Landa noted the surprising results of the school's intensive dual-language curriculum, and the benefits it has brought to her family, which predominantly speaks Spanish in their home. "I heard from other parents about how your child develops in ways you don’t see with academic learning," she said. "Now I see how valuable the opportunity was for having my son in a dual-language program."

"I think being able to communicate in two languages has given him the advantage of developing higher critical thinking than a regular 5-year-old," Landa said.

 
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She said her son's curriculum even helps the whole family with language learning: "It has given his grandparents a way to practice English," she said. "My son teaches them English, and they teach him Spanish."

Noted Early Education

Velma Thomas operates within the Chicago Public Schools as a Child-Parent Center and offers both half-day and full-day programs for its preschool students: kids who are 3 or 4 years old by September 1, 2020. Its enrollment is open to all, with online applications being accepted through the chicagoearlylearning.org website.

In addition to receiving a Gold Circle of Quality in the ExceleRate Illinois program, the education center has received the top-most Award of Excellence in Preschool Teaching and Learning from the Illinois State Board of Education.

 
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As previously reported here in the McKinley Park News, Principal Mary Kay Richardson was pegged to participate in the Independent Schools Principals program that shares successful leadership methods and enable more autonomy for high-performing schools.

 
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More information about Velma Thomas can be found on the school's website, and interested parents can call the school at (773) 535-4088 for more information and assistance with applying.


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