Neighborhood Kids Preschool Now Offering A Kindergarten Program
Wellington’s oldest preschools will soon be offering a new kindergarten program. When the upcoming school year begins on Monday, Aug. 10, Neighborhood Kids will be offering schooling for kindergarten-age children at its Greenbriar Blvd. location, courtesy of owners Frank and Olivia Toral.
Previously called Little Place and Little Place Too, the Torals took over the longtime Wellington landmarks last year from founder Susan Russell, who opened the first location in 1978. They have since rebranded the two locations as Neighborhood Kids.
“Until now, the school has served ages four months to pre-kindergarten and has graduated approximately 2,000 children from pre-kindergarten over the last 40 years,” Frank Toral said. “But we saw a tremendous need for affordable, private kindergarten education in Wellington. We will offer continuity of care by offering kindergarten. Since we’ve cared for them since they were toddlers, it only makes sense to hire a top-notch educator to get them more than ready for first grade in a loving environment.”
As of July, Toral said that top candidates for the position were all “well-credentialed, well-trained and possessing significant experience.” In an occupation where staff turnover is often quite high, the average tenure of the current Neighborhood Kids teaching staff is 10 years.
The school offers successful curriculums such as Abeka and Creative, as well as Amazing Athletes and Go Picasso programs to promote students’ physical fitness and creative development.
Unlike many public schools, Neighborhood Kids kindergarteners will begin learning Spanish and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculums, as well as reading, phonics, writing, penmanship, social studies, sports and nutrition.
Offering kindergarten at Neighborhood Kids is not the only new program. At the Wellington Trace location, which previously only accepted children once they turned 2, a program has been added to accommodate babies as young as 12 months. And a second infant room has been added at the Greenbriar location, helping accommodate Wellington’s many young families.
“There are a lot more infants under our care,” Toral said.
Additionally, while the school has always been open to children of all faiths, a new supplemental faith-based curriculum of Bible study has been added for ages 2 and up at both locations.
“Those things are a big part of our news, but it doesn’t end there,” Toral said. “Due to the coronavirus, many Wellington-area families are under financial pressure. They may be experiencing reduced hours or have lost their jobs. Both of our locations have been awarded contracts to provide parents with significant financial assistance through the Palm Beach County School Readiness Program. The program provides funding for families of new and existing students. When they call Neighborhood Kids, we can walk them through the application. They apply, get a voucher and sign up. It’s fast and streamlined, and we’re an approved provider. The program has been there, but we’ve never availed ourselves of it before, as most families were private pay. Now, we can do something to help families in these tough financial times.”
Neighborhood Kids is also following all the enhanced CDC guidelines to keep staff and families safe. Parents must wear masks when dropping off their children and are not allowed back in the rooms; children’s temperatures are taken upon entering and leaving; and there is a protocol in place should anyone test positive for the COVID-19 virus.
“We’re very mindful of the environment and doing all we can to make sure Neighborhood Kids remains a safe place for kids,” Toral said. “We hope to maintain a school where no child has tested positive. So far, thank God, no one has.”
The school also recently announced a program to help families now that the public schools are expected to remain with distance learning when the new academic year begins.
“I want parents to know that we at Neighborhood Kids have a program in place to have in-person learning support for kindergarten through fifth grade, where parents can drop off their kids for a full or half day so they can return to work, complete assignments and continue to learn in a safe, supportive and clean environment,” Toral said. “It’s one thing to teach your children in the summer, but another dynamic entirely to do it indefinitely.”
With a background in law and the ministry, Frank Toral and his wife Olivia moved to Wellington several years ago, before purchasing the two preschools. They previously operated a local church.
“We’re here to stay,” Toral said. “We no longer have a church; our exclusive focus is in developing these schools, staff, directors and students. We live in Wellington, and we work in Wellington.”
Enhancing the schools’ presence in the neighborhoods where they are located is also a key part of the Torals’ plan. Returning students and parents will notice that extensive renovations have taken place at both schools. “They’re like brand new,” Toral said.
Both Neighborhood Kids sites are currently accepting enrollment. They are open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
To schedule a tour of Neighborhood Kids at 2995 Greenbriar Blvd., call (561) 790-0808. To visit the 1040 Wellington Trace location, call (561) 793-5860. Visit www.neighborhoodkids.net for more information.