School Spotlight: ECFE Brooklyn Center
This week’s School Spotlight features ECFE Brooklyn Center. The Early Childhood Family Education program brings learning to the school district’s youngest children and their families.
Inside a Brooklyn Center building, the seeds of knowledge are being planted.
At the Community Corner, preschool kids begin a learning process that teaches them basic core values that are crucial for their future.
“Colors, numbers, how to be a friend,” said Emily Conigliaro, who teaches at the Community Corner. “Mostly the number one thing preschoolers learn is how to be in school.”
“It builds their knowledge in cooperating with others, how to play,” said fellow teacher Ashley Peters. “These are all skills that need to be learned and taught.”
Peters teaches preschool for 3-year-olds and also Early Childhood Family Education classes in the Brooklyn Center district.
“It’s very important to us that everybody feels that they can come here,” Peters said. “Feel welcome, get questions answered and not turn anybody away.”
ECFE brings kids and family members together in the classroom. It’s a winning template, as they learn in tandem and build stronger bonds.
“It’s great to be able to have some time to set aside with your child,” said Ryan Laechelt, whose 2-year old daughter goes to ECFE. “Or you’re just getting to be a parent with them and not deal with e-mail or dishes or any of that other stuff.”
“We’re a really welcoming environment,” said Emily Conigliaro, an ECFE Parent Educator. “There’s no judgement about any parenting type or any parenting strategy, and we are always really supportive of each other.”
On occasion family members leave the room and are separated from their kids; this gives them an early taste of independence from their parents or relatives.
“It really does help with the separation in knowing that mommy or daddy, or grandma and grandpa, or whomever, will come back,” Peters said. “That it’s OK to be away from them and play and have fun.”
“It’s something we value as a family,” Laechelt said. “Something that’s very beneficial for those little ones.”
Another benefit of ECFE is flexibility. Families can set their own schedule.
“It’s a drop-in class, Peters said. “So families can choose to come one week and maybe the next week they don’t come.”
Income is also not an issue. ECFE is free.
“We take everybody,” Peters said. “This program is meant to support the community. We don’t want to turn anybody away.”
ECFE has been in Brooklyn Center for 26 years.