Four-year-old Ryan loves to play dress-up. Today, she twirls around her preschool classroom in a purple tutu, giggling wildly. At clean-up time she approaches her teacher.
“I’m going to take my dress home,” she says matter-of-factly.
“Are you sure the dress is yours?” her teacher asks. “Did you get it from the classroom closet or did you bring it from home?”
Ryan thinks for a moment about how to respond. She answers slowly, with a sly look in her eye.
Her teacher smiles. “Is that your new favorite word? ‘Actually’?”
Ryan flashes an arresting grin. Her conversational style is charming and self-aware—unusual things for a four-year-old, and evidence of above-average social and cognitive skills.
These skills are even more remarkable when Ryan’s history is taken into account. Like many children enrolled in our early learning programs, Ryan belongs to a family that has seen more than its fair share of adversity. Substance abuse, housing instability, and domestic violence are all a part of her family’s story.
Ryan and her mother Brook were referred to Childhaven during Ryan’s first year of life. This gave the organization an opportunity to provide very early support to Ryan and help her through many developmental milestones.
“Ryan has done great in the program,” says Brook. “She’s loved it from day one and developed really strong relationships with her teachers and therapists.”
In addition to providing early learning programs for children who have faced significant adversity, Childhaven offers developmental therapy and counseling services. According to Brook, Ryan has particularly benefited from one-on-one behavioral therapy.
“Ryan is a very outgoing child,” Brook remarks, “and she very much dislikes it when people pick on her, when people don’t want to play with her. She’s still learning that not everyone is going to like her, and that she can be in control of her emotions when her peers treat her in a way that she doesn’t expect.”
Emotional regulation can be exceptionally difficult for many children who have faced adversity. Childhaven’s early learning programs help these children navigate the complex emotions that can be triggered when they interact with peers.
Throughout the day, teachers check in with the children in their class, asking them how they’re feeling and prompting them to express their emotions in healthy ways. Strong social-emotional skills like these are necessary for success in school, work, and relationships.
Ryan starts kindergarten next year, and Brook is excited for the transition. “She’s a natural born leader,” Brook says, “and I know she’s going to continue to excel thanks to the support we’ve received from Childhaven.”
Still, Brook expects more arguments about clothes when Ryan starts at her new school. “Ryan likes to control what she wears,” Brook says, laughing.
Watching Ryan play, it’s clear why. Running across her classroom in a purple tutu, she beams with confidence, ready for anything.
Childhaven’s Kitchen Staff cook up impact!
Did you know that we serve more than 125,000 meals per year? Providing breakfast, lunch, and snack supports the physical health and growth of the children in our early learning classrooms. And mealtime is open to parents who stop by, too! Learn more about the fearless cooks who prepare hundreds of plates with nutritious foods every day at Childhaven.
Holiday Giving Thank You!
We’d like to give a special shout-out to the 100+ organizations that supported our Holiday Giving program in 2018! Thank you for making the holidays brighter for children and families! Here’s a list of our top contributors:
Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants Employees & generous customers
Starbucks & Partners
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center