When Fouzia Khan took over as manager of the district's Tot Learning Center (TLC) in 2003, she knew that the promotion of diversity was at the core of — not only what the Skokie Park District stood for — but of vital importance in the Village of Skokie, a community in which more than 100 languages are spoken in resident homes.
With the clientele of the center mirroring Skokie's ethnic mix, Khan has taken cues from her own childhood and established a program that is as diverse as its population.
Khan grew up a Muslim in Hyderabad, India, but attended Catholic school.
"My father felt that it was important to experience different cultures, languages and religions, knowing that we would learn our chosen language and religion at home," she said. Indeed, Sardar Ali Khan, the chief justice of his state’s supreme court, served on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
As a result, Khan speaks four languages and she and her husband have given their own children the same gift of a diverse background — putting them in Skokie Public Schools and Jewish Community Center programs.
Years later, the TLC program is now made up of a unique blend of play-based, full day childcare, featuring fitness, science and music enrichment classes, as well as a cooperative agreement with The Talking Farm, an on-site urban farm. Now, TLC children spend time each week, planting, harvesting and seeing the vegetables that they eat, in a convenient outdoor setting that includes an ethnic garden.
TLC also features special events that allow families to bond with each other over traditional holiday and multicultural themes, such as a fall celebration and summer park outings.
And its emphasis on diversity is only one of the center’s many attributes. The modern building, built in 1997, features spacious classroom and playrooms for infants to 5-year-olds. The center also offers degreed teachers, organic meals and snacks, a state-of-the-art security system, and outdoor play areas. TLC is also licensed by the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
For more information about two-day to five-day a week childcare at the Tot Learning Center, call (847) 933-4560.