Our Program

Small Steps Nurturing Center provides a high-quality education, social and emotional support, a nurturing Christian environment, transportation, and nutritious meals to economically at-risk children ages two through six living in the Fifth Ward and surrounding areas of inner-city Houston, Texas.

The Need

Early intervention through early childhood education programs is a cost-effective way to invest in children and prepare them to learn the academic and life skills they need to become contributing members of society. Ninety percent of brain development occurs by age five, thus making the first five years of life a critical window for learning. The need for early intervention in these early years is especially great for children living in poverty. These children often experience high levels of stress, which affect their brains and can interfere with their ability to learn.

Small Steps Program Elements

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Social and Emotional Growth

268A6229Small Steps has implemented an approach to early childhood education called SET (Social Emotional Tools) for Life©, created by Michelle M. Forrester, PhD, which emphasizes a relationship- and language-based format to address the social and emotional needs of children. Small Steps employs four SET for Life team members: the Director of Student and Family Support and two SET Therapists—all with graduate-level degrees in fields related to mental health (requiring advanced licensure)—and a SET Interventionist. Additionally, Small Steps will partner with outside providers to offer student and/or family support, including mental health services, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, early childhood intervention, and other community resources.

SET for Life

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Physical Growth

DSC06823Small Steps provides a secure, welcoming environment with predictable routines so children can worry less about unexpected challenges, allowing them to focus on playing and learning. Most of our families experience food insecurity, and Small Steps aims to fulfill the majority of each student’s daily nutritional needs during the school day. The neighborhoods in which our families live have almost no safe green space for children to run and play; Small Steps provides space for children to develop their motor skills and social skills as well as to connect with nature. For most low-income families, getting their children to an early childhood education program every day can be difficult due to work schedules or lack of transportation. Small Steps provides daily transportation to and from school for approximately 20 percent of our students.

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Intellectual Growth

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Small Steps is accredited by AdvancED- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the leading accrediting organization for schools across the educational spectrum. The accreditation process ensures that we are held to the highest standards as well as continuously improving our program. The school maintains a low teacher to child ratio of approximately one to eight and utilizes the project approach to learning, which allows for the integration of each piece of our curricula. At Small Steps, language development is at the core of all learning activities. Our teachers also promote science, math concepts, and critical thinking skills through problem solving, observations, sorting activities, and investigations.

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Spiritual Growth

Small Steps was founded on the belief that we serve children in need as an expression of God’s love and treat each person as a unique creation. We demonstrate love to students through close relationships with teachers and through compassion shown by volunteers who support our program. Our program includes weekly chapel, prayer before meals, and daily staff devotionals.

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Families

Small Steps intentionally creates opportunities to strengthen relationships and foster a community of sharing, learning, and growing with our students’ families. To complete a minimum of 10 tuition hours (15 if more than one student) each school year, parents can attend parent education events, volunteer, or participate in other parent engagement opportunities. Teachers also conduct home visits with our families at the beginning of the school year to better understand family dynamics, observe the home environment, and identify family needs.