Ruben was born with a cleft palate and a hand deformity. He had previously been referred to and was attending a program for students with special needs, but his parents felt that he was not being challenged intellectually since most of his peers had varying levels of developmental disabilities.
A family friend mentioned their positive experience at El Centro de la Raza, so the family applied and Ruben qualified for the free part-day ECEAP program. He started in the José Martí Child Development Center in September 2017.
When Ruben first started at the age of 3, he was very shy and introverted, cried frequently, and he didn’t want to try anything by himself. After observing Ruben, the teachers developed an Individual Learning Plan and encouraged his social-emotional development through culturally-relevant activities in his first language (Spanish). As his self-esteem grew, Ruben became more confident in his abilities and self-help skills, such as using the bathroom on his own, and the social emotional support really helped Ruben develop the confidence needed to grow in other areas of development.
Now, after seven months in the program, Ruben happily participates in class, socializes with his peers and shows initiative in trying and completing different activities. He practices fine motor activities and is able to write his own name and cut different shapes with scissors. Ruben loves to sing and dance; and after an operation on his tongue, his language abilities continue to advance as he pronounces sounds well for his age level and uses increasingly complex sentences.
Ruben’s parents are also very happy with the changes they have seen in their child. They support his development at home by providing him with puzzles and other challenging activities, and they encourage his independence and confidence to complete tasks on his own.
Ruben continues to receive physical therapy, so in conjunction with our dual-language, culturally appropriate curriculum, Ruben is supported in all areas of development, and after the second developmental assessment of this school year (one more to go), Ruben has already made significant growth and/or is meeting widely-held expectations for his age group in almost all areas of development. Ruben has one more year of preschool before kindergarten, but at the rate he’s going, Ruben is on track for success in kindergarten and beyond.