Many of the children in the Play & Learn toddler group in the Family Literacy Center were crying their first day. For most of them, it was the first time they had been away from their mothers.
But Arina continued crying and crying, day after day, week after week. She refused to take her coat off or get out of her stroller.
YWCA staff did their best to comfort her, brought her toys and books, and tried to engage her with the other children. Her comfort level very gradually increased enough to leave the safety of her stroller and sit at a table with paint or a puzzle. She couldn’t interact with the other children so she stayed by herself.
Her coat was always nearby, and she was always ready and waiting to leave.
When she reached 2.5 years old, Arina was screened using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test which measures expressive and receptive language. She scored in just the 7th percentile for expressive language and the 4th percentile for receptive language.
In January, Arina transitioned from the Play & Learn group into the preschool program at the YWCA.
Arina’s teachers continued working with her on her language skills and encouraging her social skills. It has been difficult for Arina’s mom, Natalia, to help her with her English language skills since she came to the U.S. from Ukraine six years ago and didn’t speak any English. She is currently taking ESL classes in the Family Literacy Center, and tries very hard to apply what she has learned through her studies to help teach her daughter as well.
Eventually, Arina began including another child or two while playing, and after several months she developed a friendship with another child. Once she was secure in that relationship, her confidence grew, and she made friends with other children.
Arina worked hard and made steady progress in class. Her most recent Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test results indicate that her ability to communicate in English has improved greatly. Her most recent scores place her in the 84th percentile for expressive language and the 77th percentile for receptive language.
Arina left recently to attend kindergarten and is missed by staff and friends alike. However, we know now that we have sent her off prepared with the skills she needs to succeed.