This summer has been a busy one for sisters Abby (5 1/2) and Sara (8). Abby has been practicing writing her own name and is now learning to write the names of her friends. Sara has been either playing a game of basketball or reading a new book, two of her favorite hobbies. And of course, both sisters are getting excited and ready for the school year.

Sara’s love for reading started young – here at 2-years-old, in 2015, as a Western Learning Center student.

Abby will be starting kindergarten, and Sara will be starting 3rd grade. Thanks to PHLpreK, the City’s free, quality pre-K program, mom Karen Libber Fishbein shares how her daughters have “a strong foundation for elementary school.”

Both Abby and Sara attended Western Learning Center, one of the PHLpreK programs in South Philadelphia. They began in daycare and moved into PHLpreK. “Western Learning Center is amazing,” boasted Karen. “They want kids to learn, and take good care of your kids.”

Karen, a part-time social worker and full-time mom, heard about PHLpreK from Western Learning Center when Abby and Sara were enrolled in daycare. “They helped me navigate it. They were supportive and helpful in transitioning into the PHLpreK program.” And thanks to the free pre-K program, Karen was able to continue seeing clients while the girls continued attending Western Learning Center.

Abby, Sara, and Karen have all made long-lasting friendships with peers through PHLpreK. “We’re still in touch with families,” said Karen.

Abby (center) with friends Jett and Noa on a pre-K field trip in the fall of 2019.

“My favorite thing about Western was always the playground. We’d come and hangout, chat with teachers and parents. They always had the perfect balance of play and learning.”

On the day that the election was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Abby, Sara, and Karen were with friends from Western. “We were celebrating the news, and sent Miss Martha [a Western Learning Center teacher] a photo of all her babies. We were so happy. She was so happy. It made her smile,” said Karen. “Western is like family.”

“I tell people about it all the time. PHLpreK is great for the kids, and great for families.”

Enrollment for the 2021-2022 PHLpreK school year begins soon. Find a PHLpreK program near you.