(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers

by Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
(KKOOM) Early education for Korean orphan toddlers
Harmony learning about gardening at preschool
Harmony learning about gardening at preschool

Harmony, KKOOM’s Preschool Scholar, arrived at a KKOOM-supported children’s home twelve months ago in March 2021 when she was 24-months-old. This will be our last month providing her preschool scholarship as she is now eligible to receive government funding starting in March 2022 (age three in American society, age four in South Korea). We asked her house mother to give us a snapshot of Harmony’s growth, inside and outside the classroom. We translated her answers into English.

1. When Harmony first arrived at the children’s home, what was her personality like?

  • She had short hair and was wearing dresses in size small. She felt a bit anxious about the separation, but after meeting the other children at the children’s home, she was relieved. She expressed herself without any hesitation, which sometimes led to sudden outbursts at times.
  • She had a strong desire to eat, no matter the food. She ate kimchi, which is not typical for children her age to eat, and ate fruits better than adults.

2. Harmony started preschool immediately when she arrived in March 2021. What was her biggest challenge in the classroom?

  • At times, she would cry loudly interrupting other children's classes because she had a difficult time with self-control. She wanted to do everything and have everything she saw. She exhibited stubbornness to get what she wanted.
  • When other children were playing with their toys, she grabbed their toys and ran away with them.

3. What improvements has Harmony made being in school, one year later?

  • She now understands that there are rules and she knows how to better articulate what she wants. She learned how to wait and became more patient in the classroom.
  • She came to understand that I have to ask permission to use other people’s things.

4. How has Harmony’s personality improved at the children’s home?

  • She was very assertive when she first arrived and insisted on doing what she wanted to do no matter the circumstances. Now, if you explain the situation, she understands and accepts the words of the other person.
  • In March 2021, she slept a lot and had trouble sleeping, so she was very irritable when sleeping or waking up. Now, when it is time to go to bed, she is happy and brings a children’s book. When she wakes up in the morning, she wakes up feeling good on her own.

5. Are there favorite things Harmony likes to do at home? Or at school?

  • At home, she likes to play house with her sisters. She loves to draw and ride the kickboard scooter in the children’s home yard. She likes snacks very much, and eats so well leaving a mess on her face and clothes.
  • One of her favorite things to do in preschool is playing with blocks. More play in a positive manner has been more possible at school.

6. How helpful is the KKOOM scholarship to children like Harmony? 

  • This was such a positive experience to improve her social development to play with other children and observe what they are doing. It gave her the opportunity to imitate faster positive learning outcomes in the classroom. It has helped increase her language comprehension and physical movement.
  • [At this age], it is a period in which the brain undergoes rapid changes according to experiences, and the human brain develops rapidly during the first two years of life. This age is the period when the density and formation level of synaptic networks that connect neurons to each other are at their highest.

7. If you could say anything to the KKOOM donors and supporters, what would it be?

  • Due to living in the social welfare system, Harmony had no choice but to wait to receive an education. Thanks to the KKOOM scholarship, she was able to receive the same education as her peers starting at two-years-old.
  • Thank you for making all of these experiences possible. I think the KKOOM scholarship played an important role in Harmony’s social, emotional, and physical development. I am very grateful and I think it is something to be grateful for. 

Two-year-olds have twice as many synapses as adults, according to edutopia. This enables the brain to learn faster at this age than at any other time of life. A child’s experience at this age has a lasting impact on their overall development. During the most important time of Harmony’s brain development, you stepped in to provide a life-changing experience for her. Harmony was given the opportunity to attend school for free through the KKOOM scholarship, a year of transformation for her social and brain development. 

Thank you for playing a pivotal role to eliminate an invisible achievement gap for toddlers living in Korea’s social welfare system. Together, we are changing lives and making futures brighter for Korean children through an education. 

Her favorite thing - to play with blocks at school
Her favorite thing - to play with blocks at school
Harmony loves snacks and all types of food!
Harmony loves snacks and all types of food!
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Harmony turned two years old in July
Harmony turned two years old in July

Seven months ago, Harmony arrived at a KKOOM-supported children’s home. Her expressions within two months brightened quickly. Now, Harmony is 27-months-old and has been flourishing in preschool since March 2021. We asked Harmony’s house mother to answer a few questions on her progress in school. 

  • What is Harmony’s personality like at school? 
    • She is actively involved in all activities and has a bright and lively personality. 
  • What is Harmony’s favorite thing to do at school? 
    • Her favorite activities in daycare are sharpening her fine motor activities and cutting crafts. 
  • At school, do you know what Harmony is currently learning or doing in the classroom, like drawing, planting, cooking, etc?
    • At the preschool, Harmony is also interested in making rice balls and is participating in various activities such as jachigi and attaching magnetic blocks together. Jachigi is a South Korean game where a long stick and two short sticks are hit and caught, with a circular hole and a circle being drawn in the ground. 
  • How has school improved Harmony’s character or behavior? Do you see a positive change in her due to going to preschool?
    • At the beginning of March, she was wary initially. Now, she interacts with her close friends, and although it is a small class community, her social skills are being developed. 
  • At home, is there something Harmony is always doing, like singing, skipping around the children’s home, or saying certain phrases? 
    • At home, she actively participates in play with her older sisters at home. These days, as her language skills are increasing, she understands most languages, responds appropriately to the situation, and acts accordingly. Lately, she tries to do everything by herself, saying “I am.” She still has a small craving for food, but is eating well. 

By giving to our preschool scholarship program, you are directly impacting Harmony’s life now but you are also positively improving her future. Toddlers in Korea’s social welfare system have fewer opportunities to start school at the same age as their peers. The Korean government does not fund their preschool education until they are four years old. 

Thanks to your loving kindness, Harmony started fine tuning her fine motor skills and social skills in preschool at 20-months-old. We are grateful you believe in the power of an education and help KKOOM close the opportunity gap for young Korean children. 

With gratitude, 

-Grace Lee, Executive Director

Harmony making rice balls at preschool
Harmony making rice balls at preschool
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Harmony enjoying Korea's spring flower blooms
Harmony enjoying Korea's spring flower blooms

Every day has a new beginning, a new blessing, and a new hope. In March 2021, a 22-month-old toddler arrived at a children’s home we support. Giving the child a fresh start, KKOOM provided a Welcome Boost Fund of approximately $125 so the house mother could buy new clothing and basic necessities. The young toddler’s name is Harmony and we are proud to announce she is KKOOM’s newest preschool scholar. To protect the privacy of the child, we have given Harmony an alias name and masked her Korean name. 

Harmony started preschool immediately upon her arrival thanks to your generosity. Typically, the Korean government does not provide financial support for toddlers growing up in Korea’s social welfare system to attend preschool until they are 4-years-old. Getting acclimated to a new learning environment as a 2-year-old, we want to share some of her personality traits and things she enjoys doing. 

What she enjoys the most out of anything else is eating. Now, she tries to eat more snacks in between meals. The children typically have a snack a few hours before dinner at the children’s home. We asked Harmony’s house mother to describe her in one word. She said, “Bright and playful.” When she first came to the children’s home in March, she hid her expressions or forced herself to laugh. Gradually, her expressions have brightened in two months. 

Funding Harmony’s preschool education is a transformational opportunity because it is strengthening her lifelong skills. We asked her house mother, “If you could say one thing to KKOOM supporters, what would it be?” Here is her response translated into English. 

“Thank you for funding Harmony’s preschool scholarship so quickly after her arrival. The scholarship helps the children a lot. Living at a children’s home during the pandemic and government restrictions, it is hard to build social and emotional skills. If it was not for KKOOM, Harmony would not be attending preschool due to her age. Despite the lack of educational attainment and though it’s incomplete sentences, her speaking ability has improved. In less than 2 months, her babbling has turned into short words like, “me too, with me, or give me.” If KKOOM continues to support her educational opportunities, there is much growth expected in her educational endeavors in the future. Thank you!”

In a short amount of time, Harmony has blossomed in her self-confidence through emotional and verbal communication. You play a vital role in making knowledge accessible for our preschool scholars, like Harmony. According to the Wyoming Department of Education, at-risk children are 25% more likely to drop out of school or 60% more likely to never attend college without a high-quality early education. 

"The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all," a famous quote from the Disney movie Mulan. Despite her life circumstances, Harmony has access to early childhood education because of you. Thank you for giving her the chance to thrive in preschool. You are reshaping her destiny to flourish in education so her future dreams can come true. 

Welcome Boost Fund for Harmony - new clothes/shoes
Welcome Boost Fund for Harmony - new clothes/shoes
Harmony working on fine motor skills during school
Harmony working on fine motor skills during school
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Gabby & Hank at his 2nd birthday party (fall 2020)
Gabby & Hank at his 2nd birthday party (fall 2020)

Gabby is turning four-years-old in March and Hank is 28-months-old. Your support has allowed us to fund their preschool education for the past three to four semesters. We also wanted to make a special note that Gabby and Hank are siblings. They both arrived at a children’s home we support in May 2019. By asking their house mothers about their progress in school, we recently found out that they attend school together as brother and sister. 

At a young age, developing social skills is an integral part of a child’s development. For Gabby and Hank, their social interactions are improving because of daily instruction and socialization at preschool. Both of their house mothers recently shared how preschool is positively impacting their lives and they see the benefits of these changes. 

While Hank can still be shy at times, his social skills are improving gradually. He does a better job of waiting patiently. Gabby’s social skills have improved significantly. The teacher sees her as the “assistant teacher.” Her teacher praises her strong ability to lead as she helps classmates who may be struggling cognitively in the classroom.

They are learning a variety of skills and gaining unique experiences inside the classroom. Gabby has daily specials Monday through Friday such as music, sports, forest exploration, Chinese class, and performance class. During national holidays, she engages in cooking activities like making plums, songpyeon rice cakes for the Lunar New Year, or making kimchi. 

Can you guess what is their favorite thing to do at school? Play outside! Hank likes to take walks and play with the ball during physical activities. Gabby is the first to go outside, sometimes even going before the teacher. Recently, she really enjoys playing on the train with her friends. Even after coming home, it is a daily routine to line up all kinds of toy containers and sit on top of the lid of the toybox called the train. 

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health says that the biggest indicator of success in adulthood is based on a child’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten. Thank you for helping Gabby and Hank thrive in their educational environment. You are giving them access to a better future through your kind giving and generosity. These two young toddlers as siblings are truly flourishing academically and socially thanks to your investment in their lives.

Gabby enjoying cooking class at preschool!
Gabby enjoying cooking class at preschool!
Hank riding on a kickboard at the children's home
Hank riding on a kickboard at the children's home
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Hank is 2-years-old & a new preschool scholar
Hank is 2-years-old & a new preschool scholar

Many new conversations started this summer about equality, equity, and race. For KKOOM, education equality is important and something we directly address by funding preschool scholarships for at-risk toddlers at Korean children’s homes. Government funding for toddlers in the social welfare system to attend preschool starts at age four. KKOOM provides the necessary funds, thanks to our amazing friends and supporters, so a young child can start preschool at the age of two. Without your generosity, the children we support would not have early access to preschool to build stronger academic and social-emotional skills. KKOOM is currently funding two children to attend preschool. 

While COVID-19 affected the start of preschool for Gabby and Hank in 2020, they were able to start in mid-May. We want to share more of Gabby and Hank’s personality traits with you, so you can get to know them better. Gabby has been a KKOOM preschool scholar since spring 2019 and Hank is a new preschool scholar in 2020. 

Gabby who is forty months old loves her playtime inside and outside the classroom. She enjoys playing with blocks, dolls, and houses the most. Storybook reading time is also one of Gabby’s favorite things to do. Staying healthy, she is not a picky eater. She especially loves cucumbers and vegetables. When we asked Gabby’s house mother to use one word to describe Gabby’s personality, she said, “very active and active.” One of the biggest improvements in Gabby since arriving at Emmanuel Children’s Home is that she is healthy, socially, and physically, while not being in diapers anymore. When Gabby first arrived in May 2019, she was very shy and barely let anyone hug her. Now, she is always seen with a smile on her face, trying to play with friends at school, or making duck faces while at the children’s home. 

Hank arrived at a children’s home we support in May 2019 and is 23 months old. He turns two years old on September 14th. When we asked his house mother what he likes to do the most, she said that Hank is very curious and loves to play with his toys. Hank loves fruits and meat but does not like eating vegetables. His character traits are uniquely described as, “Hank has a brave personality without fear.” Shortly after arriving at the children’s home, the staff was concerned about a potential physical challenge because his eyesight was out of focus. In a year, his eyesight has improved. Compared to his peers, he is healthy and has a bigger body. 

Our two KKOOM scholars are very active and have no fear. While circumstances beyond their control have shaped their early experiences, thank you for giving Gabby and Hank a better tomorrow. You give them a chance to have equal access to a preschool education they would not have otherwise. The scholarships allow them to shine brightly for many years to come. You and other devoted individuals give opportunities for a two-year-old and a three-year-old to let their light shine. KKOOM appreciates your giving, positive thoughts, and the outpouring of love to support our preschool scholars. 

Gabby is 3-years-old and loves her playtime
Gabby is 3-years-old and loves her playtime
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Organization Information

Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission

Location: Jonesboro, GA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @koreankids
Project Leader:
Grace Lee
Portage, MI United States
$133,436 raised of $150,000 goal
 
1,308 donations
$16,564 to go
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