Mornings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and evenings on Wednesdays, are busy at the Chase Oaks Family Center. Over 80 students from 15+ different countries come to learn and/or strengthen their English skills through our BEST (Building English Skills Together) ESL Program. Friends are made. Coffee is provided. And this year, more than any other, parents are bringing their children to benefit from our complementary program, BEST Kids.
We don’t just want to offer childcare. We want to teach these children how to learn, and provide them with the skills they’ll need to start kindergarten. We’re allowing them to learn at their own pace, in the ways that suit them best. We’re encouraging them to demonstrate good habits and attitudes, particularly a positive sense of themselves, which will make a difference throughout their lives. Currently, our children’s programs are at capacity, but we have a waiting list for open slots.
BEST Kids wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful director, Lori Bustos. Lori has been attending Chase Oaks for five years, and has been with BEST Kids for three years. She and her team welcome thirty kids on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as twenty kids on Wednesday evenings. About half of these children are toddlers; the rest are preschoolers. Lori creates lesson plans and a curriculum that includes a monthly theme, letters, numbers, shapes, vocabulary words, music, and even light homework.
“The parents love seeing the work the children have done during class,” Lori says. “This is the only learning outlet for some of the children and it makes their parents proud knowing that their children are being prepared to enter school. The end goal is for all the children to feel confident walking into their first day of kindergarten knowing their alphabet, spelling their names, understanding numbers and recognizing colors.”
A large percentage of these kids have never been away from their moms, so we are greatly honored that parents trust us with their children. Since all of our ESL students are foreigners, our program is the first place many of the kids are introduced to an English curriculum.
Thanks to Lori’s dedication, and the wonderful support of her team, the BEST Kids program has flourished. They provide opportunities for the children to learn, and memories for their parents to capture. Kids create beautiful works of art to take home, they perform songs for their parents, they participate in both individual and class pictures, and they develop great friendships with other students. It’s inspiring to see how the BEST Kids program is impacting their lives and making a significant difference in our community.