Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Multi-Service Center, district cooperate toddlers’ playgroup

April 6, 2006

A sandbox full of dried pinto beans is waiting at the De Soto Multi-Service Center for a child to come and play.

Last month, the De Soto Parents As Teachers group started a new playgroup, "A Place to Play" at the center to provide an easier location for De Soto families.

"We're trying to get families who come to the Multi-Service Center involved with their kids," said parent educator Sue Ann Harris. "We're especially hoping to reach out to De Soto families and let them know about our program."

Attendance was poor during the first two playgroups in March.

In a report to the USD 232 Board of Education, Parents As Teachers coordinator Barbara Inman said teachers hoped the numbers would grow as word of the playgroup spread.

The program has been operating for several years out of Countryside Learning Center. Although it will continue to operate out of Countryside, Harris said they wanted to encourage more De Soto families to come.

Parents As Teachers educators hold playgroups to give children from infancy to age 3 a chance to play. They also provide information for parents about how children are developing.

The Parents As Teachers group brought several toys to the center, including a sandbox full of pinto beans. Harris said children love the feel and texture. They can also use pouring tools to practice motor skills. Harris said parents could even use similar materials such as corn meal, macaroni or even packing peanuts.

De Soto Multi-Service Coordinator Jodi Hitchcock said this was the first time her organization had teamed up with the school district for educational activities.

"I see lots of families with kids from birth to age 3 so we decided to pair together and get some more services out here to the community," she said.

Hitchcock and Harris said the PAT group is not exclusive to recipients of the Multi-Service Center and open to anyone in De Soto.

"What PAT does is give parents and caregivers constructive ideas on parenting, playing and what a child should be doing at different stages of development," Hitchcock said.

Jamie Fink, another parent educator, said families don't have to spend a lot of money on toys for infants.

"Most of our toys are homemade," she said. "We try to show parents how they can use things at home for their children."

The toys will be available not only for the playgroup, but also for any families who visit the multi-service center. The Parents As Teachers group is bringing a new set of toys as well.

"We don't tell parents what to do," Harris said. "But we can provide them with research-based development studies on how their child's brain is supposed to develop."

Parents can enroll in the Parents As Teachers group, but Harris said paperwork was not necessary for the playgroups.

"When you're looking at your own child, it's hard to step back and look," she said. "I was trained to be a parent educator, and I still had a PAT come to my house when my daughter was young."

The playgroup meets from 1 to 3 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month and 10 a.m. to noon on the fourth Monday of each month.

For more information, call Jodi Hitchcock at the De Soto Multi-Service Center, 583-1152 or De Soto Parents As Teachers, (913) 667-1800, ext. 132020.

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