by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
November marks 25 years that a local preschool for at-risk children has been operating in Charlotte, but it is unique to most pre-K programs, because in order for children to attend, their parents must also show up for class.
Eyewitness News saw on Friday how the school is improving the lives of its students and parents.
"Another important thing to learn is what not to do with stress," said a teacher in a parenting class.
Some parents are in class in a preschool.
"The meetings are very helpful," said a mother.
The parenting class at "The Learning Collaborative" or TLC, is a weekly requirement for some moms and dads in order for their children to attend preschool.
"It helped both of us really," said father Delrico Willingham.
Willingham's 3-year-old daughter has been enrolled since the middle of last year.
"With TLC, she's better, her reading is better, her counting is better. Her attitude period is just so much better than what it was," he said.
His daughter is one of 64 children who attend TLC.
The nonprofit provides free pre-K schooling to at-risk children in Charlotte.
Parents are required to attend the weekly parenting class and volunteer seven hours per month in the school.
"So by volunteering here, they are connecting with their child, by way of their teacher. Their teachers are modeling appropriate behaviors. They get to truly understand what's happening in the classroom," said executive director of The Learning Collaborative, Judy Carter.
Carter said the volunteering gives parents a clear picture of what their child needs to succeed.
The parenting classes cover life skills, such as budgeting and stress management, and they educate parents on support services available in the community.
Delrico said he now has a better idea of his role at home.
"I've been successful with some of the stuff I've applied from the meetings," he said.
So while the main goal at TLC is preparing children for kindergarten, it is also preparing parents for their child's educational journey.
"We're training parents on how to be a better parent," he said.
They are a United Way agency and receive funding from Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.
Right now, there is a wait list of about 100 families right now.
For a list of eligibility requirements and more information on The Learning Collaborative, click here.