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Published: June 28, 2024

woman  sitting with hand on back of child 

When Jeni Hoover meets someone and says she works with children at Kendal at Oberlin she often hears this reply – “what are you doing with kids at Kendal?”

 “I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard that,” says Jeni, who has been director of the Kendal Early Learning Center (KELC) for 15 years.Yes, even though the Early Learning Center has been up and running at the life plan community for more than 30 years , the preschool is still a best-kept secret in and around Lorain County. KELC is located in Kendal’s main building, in one large room that can serve up to 30 children and has a 10:1 student/staff ratio (compared to the state’s 12:1).

5 things to know about KELC

Are you or someone you know looking for a top-notch preschool center? Here are 5 things you should.

  1. The center offers a sliding scale for all families based on the market rate in the area. Plus the center has a state-funded Early Childhood Education Grant that allows it to offer free preschool to up to 10 children whose families meet income requirements. And Kendal staff receive a 10 percent discount for children and grandchildren.
  1. KELC is a Step Up to Quality, five-star-rated program (the highest rating) administered by the state and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).Its outdoor classroom is certified by both Wild School Site (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) and Nature Explore.
  1. KELC’s intergenerational program brings together residents (“grandfriends”) and children on a regular basis, both informal and formal. Kendal and the Early Learning Center have been named a “program of distinction,” and a received a shared-site award through Generations United because of the strength of its intergenerational programming.
  2. Creative Curriculum. The preschool follows the Creative Curriculum for Preschool that is based on five fundamental principles: intergenerational learning; social-emotional learning; constructive play; interactive physical environments; and teacher-family partnerships.
  3. Conscious Discipline. KELC has implemented a self-regulation discipline program called Conscious Discipline, which is based on seven skills: composure, encouragement, assertiveness, choices, empathy, positive intent and consequences.

A typical day at KELC

KELC preschoolers do not keep track of their good deeds by putting stickers on a “sticker chart.” Instead, they maintain a “celebration board” in which they can list their achievements, such as “I learned to ride a bike without trainer wheels,” or those of classmates, friends, staff, parents, or grandfriends (typically Kendal residents) when they are helpful to others in the classroom.

For instance, when the preschoolers looked out the window recently and saw resident Nick Long watering the garden, one of them exclaimed “Let’s put him on the celebration board.”

The center also does not have a spot for time outs. Instead, the center has a “safe place,” where a child can voluntarily go when he or she needs time to calm down or process big feelings. They teach the staff and children the steps to work through their big feelings and they practice these skills when they are in the safe place.

And when a classmate calls someone a name or says something mean-spirited, the injured child is empowered to express his or her feelings, such as “I don’t like you calling me..., My name is…” rather than the teacher stepping in to solve the problem for the child

Sometime residents come into the classroom to read a book or work on a project and the preschoolers visit the Stephens Care Center for cooking and other activities. Children and their families often participate in special events, such as Kendal’s upcoming Fourth of July parade.


Why Kendal at Oberlin?

Kendal at Oberlin offers an active lifestyle with opportunities for lifelong learning, art and culture.

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Author Molly Kavanaugh 2020In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

About Kendal at Oberlin: Kendal is a nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40 minute drive from downtown Cleveland, Kendal offers a vibrant resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art and lifelong learning.