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Where Are They Now?

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Smart Love Preschool's approach to early childhood education is designed to foster positive feelings towards learning and school. From their time here children come to understand that using their minds feels good and school is a great place to be. This positive outlook acts as a launching pad from which their desire to learn is supported, their social well-being is nurtured, and their confidence in the classroom is strengthened.  Learn how children continue to thrive even after they leave Smart Love below.

Meet Smart Love Preschool Alumni

 

Hover your mouse over each photo to read about and to see how each child has grown! 

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Caroline B.

Smart Love Preschool: 2011-2014

Smart Love's Impact

From the start of her preschool years to the present, Caroline has embraced school and learning. During a preschool classroom visit at Smart Love to observe Caroline, her school's admissions director noted that Caroline was confident, helpful, and a leader. Now, nine years later, this is how her teachers and we would describe her. Caroline's years at Smart Love gave her a solid foundation of being comfortable at school, curious about the world, and nurtured her kind heart. All of which have helped her succeed in school and become a much-loved friend to many. 

Caroline B.

Sacred Heart 

8th Grade

Because of her time at Smart Love, Caroline started school with an openness to ideas, a trust in herself, and a love of the school community. Even still, after a long summer or holiday break, she is eager to return to school and be enveloped in all that school has to offer. Some of her interests include writing, playing on the volleyball and basketball teams, running track, and working on the crew of school plays and musicals. 

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Felix C.

Smart Love Preschool: 2016-2017

Smart Love's Impact

We feel Smart Love's gentle approach to a child's first preschool/learning/separation experience really set them up for success. While they understand it's normal to be a little anxious about new things (new activities outside of school, the start to a school year, summer camps), their fundamental love of learning and sense of welcome that began at Smart Love has carried them through. They have confidence that new activities should be explored, and they know that everything is better when you're facing it with a trusted group of friends. 

Felix C.

Skinner North Elementary School

3rd Grade

Felix is thriving in 3rd grade and has a wonderful group of friends. His passions include parkour and ninja obstacle courses, swimming, and chess club. He is a natural comedian and has never met a stranger! This year involves a year-long 40 Book Challenge, where students have to read forty 100+ page chapter books in different genres, along with corresponding projects, and he has successfully attacked the challenge. He is an avid reader, and lately has fallen in love with the Roald Dahl collection. He also loves math, and as parents we fear this is the last year we will be able to effectively help him with his math homework. Felix's teacher tells us he is a leader, always helping his classmates, standing up for the underdog, and bringing humor to many situations. 

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Lucia C.

Smart Love Preschool: 2014-2016

Smart Love's Impact

The confidence and advocacy Lucia learned at Smart Love has really shown through for her - she loves school, she feels confident in her ability to learn, and she welcomes challenges. As parents, we want to expose them to everything, but ultimately let them choose the path that "fills their bucket" for the right reasons. As we always say, it's their world and we're just living in it!

Lucia C.

Skinner North Elementary School

6th Grade

Lucia is thriving in 6th grade and with a wonderful group of pals. She enjoys karate, piano, mock trial, debate, cross country, gymnastics, and swimming. She attended her first overnight camp this past summer for two entire weeks, and absolutely loved it. She has also really enjoyed the chance to work in "Buddy Classrooms" at her school where older grades group up with younger grades for mentorship. As a younger student, she loved hanging with the older kids, and now as a middle schooler, it's her time to repay the favor to the little ones!

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Harlan C.

Smart Love Preschool: 2016-2020

Smart Love's Impact

Harlan really loved the Kindergarten projects at Smart Love, especially the apple experiments they did in the Fall. He also still occasionally brings up loving the pot-lucks they had pre-pandemic.

 

Harlan's confidence and ability to regulate tough emotions 100% began at Smart Love with the help of the teachers and staff. Also, his love of learning and exploring new things has only grown. It's amazing how happy and excited he is every day to go to school. Harlan is amazing at group collaboration, working with others, and wanting ot keep learning. All things we believe that started at Smart Love.

Harlan C.

The Children's School

3rd Grade

Harlan started 1st grade at a strange time. Beginning during the pandemic, and coming off a shortened year at Kindergarten, it was a lot of new changes. But his school began with only 1/2 days in-person, so the transition was gentle and everyone was sort of in the same boat. Once he got the feel and layout of the school, he did great. Their 1st grade is still very play-based, so he was able to make friends quickly and really had a great time. Harlan has a deep love of learning

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Nova C.

Smart Love Preschool: 2018-2021

Smart Love's Impact

The play element to Smart Love is so unique, and really plants the seeds for a deep love of school and learning. It encourages kids to explore things they are curious about, and this is still something they are able to pursue at school now. I’m not even sure we would have explored the idea of Progressive Education had we not had such an amazing experience at Smart Love! Smart Love changed their lives for the better. Her love of learning is always growing and she pursues things she is interested in., but we believe her love of working with others and caring for her classmates has grown most of all. Nova really loved crating at Smart Love. Drawings, paintings, costume accessories, any and all crafts. She also so much enjoyed the gardening aspect. We loved that there were teachers there to harvest that love, because I do not have a green thumb at all! 

Nova C.

The Children's School

Kindergarten

Nova's transition to kindergarten was very smooth! We were a little nervous because Nova had never been to any other school other than Smart Love, which she was very sad about leaving. But her new teachers made a visit to our home to introduce themselves, and there was a Kindergarten play-time get together a week before with all her classmates, so by the time school started, she saw familiar faces! Also her school is very play-based, which was similar to Smart Love.

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Gray G. (they/them/their)

Smart Love Preschool: 2011-2014

Smart Love's Impact

It has been eight years since Gray "graduated" from Smart Love, but we can still see the impacts from their time in preschool. The transition to kindergarten was easy as was each subsequent year thereafter. Gray's teachers consistently, year after year, speak to Gray's leadership inside the classroom, confidence to ask questions, desire to succeed, resilience, and focus. Gray has a great group of friends and is well liked by classmates. They are skilled at navigating tricky social situations, but avoids conflict. Gray's emotional development is a key component to all of their successes, which we believe was nurtured during their time at Smart Love. 

Gray G.

Lycée Français de Chicago

8th Grade

Gray is a happy, fun and funny, thoughtful, creative, and kind teenager.  They are fluent in French from her years at the LFC and is also learning German and Latin. They enjoy playing volleyball for their school team, skiing, Manga, and they love spending time with their friends. Gray has always been interested in Art, even during their time at Smart Love, and continues to explore and develop their skills in drawing.

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Asher O.

Smart Love Preschool: 2021-2022 

Smart Love's Impact

I will tell anyone who will listen that Smart Love was, without a doubt, the most outstanding first school experience for Asher. I couldn't have asked for a more nurturing, supportive, creative, uplifting environment for Asher's experience. I plan to do the same with my daughter.

I think a lot of his play time language came from Smart Love. How he interacts with the other children, how he observes and cares about others came from Smart Love.

The 'I wonder' statements, all Smart Love!

Asher O.

Full Day Preschool

Asher transitioned to a full day Preschool and notwithstanding 'nap time', which he will protest anywhere he goes, he has immersed himself wonderfully, made many new friends, and is truly thriving!

Asher talks about his teachers and his Smart Love friends all the time. For someone so young to have such concrete memories of people he cares so deeply for, is a remarkable thing!

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Korra N.

Smart Love Preschool: 2018-2020 

Smart Love's Impact

Korra began her Smart Love journey with Playschool and stayed for her first Preschool experience. After seeing how happy she was to go to school every day, we knew it was one of the best decisions we had made. As parents who want to see their child thrive and gain confidence, we feel that Smart Love’s approach was unique and genuine. Aside from piquing her curiosity with fun, meaningful, and engaging activities, they provided lots of opportunities to explore her own interests and enjoy the company of others through satisfying peer interactions. 

It was encouraged early on that parents remain on the premises, and be present, as part of the acclimation process. We were invited to relax, read, or even bring our laptops and work in the “Parent Room”, so she was fully aware that I was not gone and could give her a cuddle if she needed it at any point. I strongly feel this impacted her connection to school without burdening her with feelings of sadness or anxiety due to separation. I was able to provide her with security and comfort until she was ready to say, “Bye Mama.”  

Overall, Smart Love has had a positive impact that extends beyond her enrollment years.  Although she may not recall all the details of her years there, I see characteristics of the school’s philosophy in how Korra makes choices that bring her joy.  

Korra N.

Decatur Classical School

3rd Grade

Korra has experienced positive transitions after Smart Love. She is currently in 1st grade at Decatur Classical School in Chicago. Her favorite subjects are Math and Art and she is an avid reader. She is well liked by her peers and has a few close friends who call themselves, “The Kitten Krew”. Her teachers often comment on how kind, patient, and inclusive she is with others. 

Korra loved the “cozy” reading nook at Smart Love and the thoughtful selection of books the classroom provided. It was at that time she developed a love for cats. There was a kitten “stuffy” she enjoyed reading to in that comfy space. She is still enamored with cats and now enjoys spending time at Treehouse Humane Society in Rogers Park. Another positive impact Smart Love had on Korra’s love for school was what she gained during group transitions within the school day. Korra absolutely loved the art station/center (and still loves anything to do with painting or drawing). Children were invited to transition to other activities, but not required to. She could spend the time she needed to finish a painting—even if the group moved on to singing the “Hello” song. I feel that this played an important role in building her confidence and stamina to complete tasks.  

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Neela S.

Smart Love Preschool: 2018-2019

Smart Love's Impact

I truly believe that Smart Love makes a difference for both children and parents. I felt like my questions and concerns about behaviors and development were met with a kind ear and practical guidance that resonated with me. I truly believe that both of our children were given the opportunity to grow and explore on their own terms at their own pace without judgment, empowering them to be curious.

Neela S. 

City High Middle School

7th Grade

I believe that our children learned empathy and how to respect the thoughts and feelings of other children and adults early on through Smart Love.  At our current stage in life, we continue to talk about how this statement or action affects the other person and what we could do differently next time. 

Neela has come to enjoy project based learning at school and enjoys playing the flute. Both are up for a challenge and will seek out new opportunities .
 

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Samir S.

Smart Love Preschool: 2015-2016

Smart Love's Impact

I believe Smart Love helped my children learn early on the value of being listened to and seen for who they are.  They are aware of the people and environments that make them feel comfortable and uncomfortable.

Samir S. 

Knapp Forest Elementary 

4th Grade

Both of our children took their time transitioning to their new school environments and finding their way.  As a parent, some days were easier than others, but while this may sound academic, reminding myself that these transitions were normal developmental losses has helped me in the transitions that followed and continue to happen. 

 

Samir has taken an interest in piano and playing goalkeeper in soccer. Both are up for a challenge and will seek out new opportunities .

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Mona W.

Smart Love Preschool: 2012-2015

Smart Love's Impact

At Smart Love Mona made a lot of friends and came to understand that "school doesn't have to be boring!" She loved the playhouse with the kitchen sets and pretend clothes. 

 

The transition to kindergarten was easy and fun, Smart Love created a perfect path of transition. Mona makes friends quickly, has always been close with her teachers, and makes a positive contribution in the classroom. Mona is a peacemaker and often tries to find common ground. She is a leader by nature, but Smart Love helped her to gain confidence in that role. 

Mona W.

Pilgrim Lutheran

7th Grade

Mona has achieved straight As since letter grades began in 4th grade. She has continued a joy of learning sprinkled with preteen and teen gripes here and there. She always takes charge in group projects and picks up slack when others don't do their share. She is persistent and always believes that she can achieve the highest.

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Sadie W.

Smart Love Preschool: 2016-2017

Smart Love's Impact

Sadie remembers her time at Smart Love as "kind" and recalls the teachers playing with the children. She learned how to make friends there and to accept everyone as they are - this continues today. She enjoyed the garden program which taught her to love "greens because they had a little garden and they let me try some of the greens and that made me love them."

Sadie missed Smart Love, but had a nice transition into kindergarten. Sadie is a peacemaker and often helps friends find a compromise or helps settle disagreements even when she doesn't have a stake in the game. But it's Sadie's love of learning that is Smart Love's biggest contribution. 

Sadie W.

Pilgrim Lutheran

4th Grade

We chose Pilgrim because it seemed like the closest thing to Smart Love's approach in a K-8 school. Sadie assimilated quickly and comes home weekly expressing excitement about various subjects.

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Michael W.

Smart Love Preschool: 2012-2015

Smart Love's Impact

The children always came home in a happy mood after Smart Love because their needs were met! The preschool years can feel overwhelming and having the parent community was so valuable. 

 

Michael is caring, loving, kind, and resilient. He made himself a ruler to not forget his numbers when moving on to Kindergarten and he still cares for himself when approaching transitions and challenges. He sticks up for others when they are being treated wrongfully, is developing his self-confidence as he matures, and continues to have joy for learning! 

Michael W.

Lane Tech Academic Center

7th Grade

We were introduced to Smart Love with our two younger children. Michael and I could enjoy quality time at Toddler Exploration classes. Michael enjoyed building with the gigantic blocks, creating their own recipe book even though it has German translation hick-ups, music and dancing, cotton "snowball" fight, and friends!

Michael entered Kindergarten with enthusiasm and confidence, even though he encountered a different teaching pedagogy at their school.

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Sebastian W.

Smart Love Preschool: 2010-2013

Smart Love's Impact

We were introduced to Smart Love with our two younger children. Sebastian and I could enjoy quality time at Toddler Exploration classes. Sebastian enjoyed building with the gigantic blocks, creating their own recipe book even though it has German translation hick-ups, music and dancing, cotton "snowball" fight, and friends!

Sebastian entered Kindergarten with enthusiasm and confidence, even though he encountered a different teaching pedagogy at their school.

Sebastian W.

Lane Tech High School

9th Grade

The children always came home in a happy mood after Smart Love because their needs were met! The preschool years can feel overwhelming and having the parent community was so valuable. 

 

Sebastian is caring, loving, kind, and resilient. He makes beautiful cards for loved ones and is empathetic. He sticks up for others when they are being treated wrongfully and continues to have joy for learning! 

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