Parenting, early learning goals of program
ourtney Zymball, Lily Fuller and Bailey Roehr love having the playroom to themselves.
The 2-and 3-year-old girls come each week to Countryside Learning Center in De Soto USD 232 Parents As Teachers program to play with their mothers and interact with one another.
Courtney's mother, Jennifer, said she enrolled her child in the Parents As Teachers to learn socialization skills.
"It gets her around other kids," she said. "I also have the chance to meet other moms and see what they're doing with their children."
Jan Krehbiel, parent educator, facilitates the weekly playgroups. She said the groups give children a controlled and supervised environment to interact with their own age group before entering preschool.
"We have one room with infant toys, and one room with motor activities for our toddlers who are trying to walk," she said. "It teaches parents about their children."
As they grow each week, the children learn new things by watching their friends at the playgroup. Courtney, who likes to socialize, follows the other girls around the room and tries to get them to play games with her. Lily likes to run around the room, climb toys and play on scooters and tricycles. Bailey likes to sing and is already talking in complete sentences. Her mother, Heather, coaches her to ask her playmates questions, greet them and say goodbye.
"See you later," Bailey said to her friends when it was time to leave.
Although Courtney and Lily aren't talking as much as their friend, they watch Bailey and try to mimic her. In return, Bailey sways her knees back and forth to imitate Lily jumping on top of a ball. Lily's infant brother, Jon, gets help learning to stand on his own and walks a few steps with the adults.
Krehbiel and the mothers get out a parachute, and the girls giggle and run underneath to hide. They sing in a circle and do hand movements along with well-known children's songs. Adults lead the children in picking up toys and saying goodbye.
Last year, De Soto's Parents as Teachers program enrolled 318 toys and saying goodbye.
Last year, De Soto's Parents As Teachers program enrolled 318 families throughout the district with children from infancy to age 3. The seven parent educators in the district made 1,157 house calls to make sure the children were developing properly and had adequate learning stimulation at home.
Barbara Inman, coordinator at Prairie Ridge Elementary School, also leads playgroups on Mondays.
"One of the important parts of the program is developmental screenings," she said. "We help to identify things that are going on with the child."
Although the Parents As Teachers group has a waiting list for families to visit, any family can come to the play group and learn about childhood development through the group meetings. Topics for parent group meetings vary throughout the year and include putting a child to sleep or knowing when a child is ready to walk.
The program is free and open to any family with a child under age 3 who lives in the De Soto school district. Playgroups are open to any family enrolled in the program and are scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Countryside Learning Center, 10120 Lexington Ave., in De Soto, or 6 p.m. Mondays at Prairie Ridge Elementary School, 22405 Clear Creek Pkwy.
Each month, the Parents As Teachers groups have a special event day for children and their families
The groups will have a "messy day" for their children Oct. 13 at the Countryside Learning Center.
For more information about the program, call Inman at (913) 667-1800, ext 132110 or visit the district's Web site, www.usd232.org.