Story By Deborah Welky | Photos by Abner Pedraza
Neighborhood Kids, which already operates two preschool locations in Wellington, recently announced expansion plans that will add locations in nearby Royal Palm Beach and Boynton Beach.
The preschool’s owner Frank Toral is pleased to be expanding into the neighboring community after taking over the oldest preschool locations in Wellington in 2019.
“Many of our parents used to be students themselves,” Toral explained. “It’s a real multi-generational community. The children become friends and stay lifelong friends. This faith-based preschool, once operated under another name, is the longest-running, continuously open preschool in Palm Beach County at 43 years. So many of the parents were once students themselves — their relatives and neighbors went here.”
Four decades ago, the western communities were known more as a retirement area with little available for growing families. But “family” is now the name of the game — and Neighborhood Kids aims to serve this growing market.
“We have waiting lists at both of our Wellington campuses,” Toral said. “So, our new Royal Palm Beach location, inside the longstanding Connect Church on Okeechobee Blvd., will offer additional space.”
Following the June 1 opening of Neighborhood Kids in Royal Palm Beach, Toral, together with his wife Olivia, will soon open a fourth location in Boynton Beach.
“It’s a Christian preschool that we’re continuing to expand throughout Palm Beach County,” Toral said. “We get a lot of feedback on the faith-based aspect of the school from our children’s parents. Many of their children will be going directly from our pre-kindergarten to public school, so this will be the only faith-based schooling they will get. We appreciate that the families recognize the value that our pre-K gives their kids for the short time we have them.”
Toral said that one thing that distinguishes Neighborhood Kids from other preschool and pre-K programs in the area is that it’s not attached to another elementary, middle or high school. Yet there’s the same neighborhood feeling throughout all Neighborhood Kids campuses.
“For example, we had a little girl in our three-year-old program. She comes home and tells her mom and dad about her friends, that she wants them to come to her birthday party and that she wants to go to their birthday parties. The point is, the kids form a community. And this has been happening for 40 years,” Toral said.
The two Neighborhood Kids stand-alone locations in Wellington currently serve more than 250 children combined, with 150 at the Greenbriar campus and 112 at the Wellington Trace campus. “The new Royal Palm Beach campus will be a smaller, a more intimate setting for the kids,” Toral said. “We will be able to host 83 children there.”
All the Neighborhood Kids locations will be accepting students starting at eight weeks old and continuing up to the VPK classes at age four.
Toral hopes that the waiting lists in Wellington will grow shorter with the opening of the Royal Palm Beach location. There are about 15 families whose children currently attend at a Wellington campus who are planning to transfer their children to Royal Palm Beach, which will immediately create a few openings at the original two locations.
There will also be a few spots opening up at the Greenbriar campus, as visiting equestrian families from across the United States and beyond leave for the season.
“My wife and I are Wellington residents, so we’re invested in these communities,” Toral said. “We live and work here, and we want to give families this educational and spiritual foundation for their children. It’s going to be the same uniform program throughout and the same curriculum in all four schools — the same mission and the same values.”
Some of the Neighborhood Kids teachers have been with the school for more than 20 years, teaching the internationally implemented Abeka and Creative curriculums, together with the Amazing Athletes fitness program and Go Picasso painting classes, all in a Christian, faith-based environment.
“We’ve heard from multiple parents that they get really emotional when they’re sitting at the dinner table and begin to eat, and their child tells them, ‘We need to pray before we eat dinner,’” Toral said. “We hear this over and over. We have gotten so many positive responses. It’s the joy of their hearts that their child is part of that gratitude of thanking God in a world that doesn’t always value that.”
The schools’ mission statement is to “partner with families to empower their child to discover and realize their potential in a nurturing and supportive environment.”
“To sum up what we do,” Toral said. “We provide an educational and spiritual foundation for your child’s future. In a world that values success, Neighborhood Kids distinguishes itself by teaching your child the value of character, without which, no success can be sustained. That’s the core of who we are.”
Toral also plans an active camp program for this summer.
“We’re looking forward to a robust summer ‘Fun Camp’ in June,” Toral said. “Last year, because of COVID-19, we were extremely limited in what we could offer the children. But this year, field trips are back on the schedule. We’re going to bring Lion Country Safari in. We’re going to have a lot of fun.”
The summer camp program is also open to older children. The summer camp is geared toward ages 5 to 12, Toral said. Registration is open now. For parents of older children — or those just looking to see what Neighborhood Kids has to offer — Toral recommends they contact the school or visit the web site to register. And for former Neighborhood Kids students who have graduated, it might be fun to see your former teachers in a camp setting.
Neighborhood Kids is located at 2995 Greenbriar Blvd. (561-790-0808) and 1040 Wellington Trace (561-793-5860) in Wellington. Visit www.neighborhoodkids.net for more information.