VOCEL's impact began with one classroom in Austin, one of the most underserved communities in Chicago. During its 3-year pilot, VOCEL's preschool program generated exceptional results and provided a real-life incubator to test new concepts and hone our methodology. Driven by these results and guided by brain development research, parent input and teacher insight, VOCEL expanded - founding the VOCEL Child Parent Academy in 2016 and opening the VOCEL Early Learning Center in 2017.
Vocabularies grow 16 months’ worth in just 10 months’ time at VOCEL
Graduates of VOCEL’s Early Learning Center leave with vocabularies equivalent to first graders
After two years of significant improvement in his speech and language skills, Nehemiah now acts as a 'language builder' for others, constantly conversing with his peers.
Nehemiah joined VOCEL’s inaugural class in September 2014. Though very active and eager to explore in the classroom, Nehemiah was quiet and struggled to clearly express himself. Teachers and other children had difficulty understanding Nehemiah, a frustrating situation for any young boy. Nehemiah would frequently throw tantrums and miss out on important parts of the school day.
As he became more comfortable in the classroom and the interventions took hold, Nehemiah blossomed. After two years of significant improvement in his speech and language skills, Nehemiah now eagerly engages in conversations with his peers and acts as a “language builder” for others.
Nehemiah's Support Plan
VOCEL’s teaching team devised a plan to support Nehemiah’s communication abilities. The team used various interventions, including:
- Strategic mealtime seating near the most talkative children
- Extra one-on-one teacher conversation during open play and outdoor time
- Strategies for Nehemiah’s family to use at home and on-the-go
- Partnership with Chicago Public Schools to begin speech therapy
Ashanti comes into school each morning with a story to tell, filled with rich details and sophisticated vocabulary.
Ashanti enrolled in VOCEL in September 2015 at the age of three, joining her older brother who was about to graduate from VOCEL’s inaugural class. With two older siblings who frequently spoke for her, Ashanti’s parents noticed Ashanti struggled to speak clearly. VOCEL’s teachers knew Ashanti’s language was ripe for development—with the right support and encouragement to express herself, Ashanti’s conversation skills grew by leaps and bounds. Ashanti now comes into school each morning with a story to tell, filled with rich details and sophisticated vocabulary. With another year of VOCEL ahead of her before she graduates and heads to kindergarten, the teachers are confident Ashanti is on a path toward success.
Ashanti's Support Plan
VOCEL's teaching team devised a plan to support Ashanti's communication abilities. The team used various interventions, including:
- Fostering friendships with more talkative peers, utilizing social skills to help build language
- Using her interest in pretend play to encourage her to communicate, particularly with animal puppets and baby dolls
- Strategic seating near a teacher during mealtimes and group times for extra one-on-one conversations
- Ongoing communication with her family about progress and areas for support
Zy’s empathy is evident—he’s always one of the first to comfort and support friends. His excitement about trying new activities is contagious.
Zy was one of the first children enrolled in VOCEL’s inaugural Child Parent Academy cohort. When he started, he was very shy and only engaged in independent play. After re-enrolling and completing a second session of the VCPA, Zy has developed into a strong, independent and proactive communicator. Now he enters the room with confidence, and his excitement about trying new activities is contagious.
Zy’s empathy is evident—he’s always one of the first to comfort and support friends. His strong social and emotional skills really help him when he has a problem; now he works with his teachers to come up with solutions.
Zy attends VCPA with his great aunt, who has also evolved as a result of VCPA. Aunt Brenda shared that she is much more patient and empathetic with Zy as he learns to master new tasks. Brenda also shows an eagerness in learning new social-emotional strategies that will assist Zy with his self-regulation and growth.
With a goal to reach more children and families, VOCEL is partnering with local elementary schools and other community organizations to bring the VOCEL Child Parent Academy to new groups of parents and young children, expanding VOCEL's reach to zip codes across Chicago.
VOCEL is poised to become the go-to resource for play- and interaction-based learning and innovative parent coaching programs, supporting parents and children side-by-side during these crucial early years — both locally and outside the Chicagoland area.