Archive for Thursday, April 30, 2009

Funky Mama’ concert provides education, entertainment

April 30, 2009

Infants, toddlers and preschoolers served by programs in the De Soto School District can scratch off “attend dance party” from their to-do list.

Children and families enrolled at Countryside Learning Center and in the Parents as Teachers program were invited to a special concert April 21 at Mill Creek Middle School. There, the youngsters jumped around to the musical styling of Funky Mama.

Funky Mama, Krista Eyler, a former television reporter, performed for the more than 200 in attendance. She mixed her own songs with dance moves to get children up and dancing.

Jamie Fink, associate director of Teachers as Parents, said the concert was a success.

“This was the first time with a concert,” Fink said. “Our family events encourage parents to follow their child’s lead and just have fun with their child.”

Kim Oakleaf-Soell brought her daughter Olivia to enjoy the concert.

“It was amazing to see the kids enjoy the musical experience so freely, and it was so fun to share in that with my daughter,” she said.

Olivia, a student at Countryside, enjoyed watching Eyler play the guitar.

“It was fun to see somebody sing and play guitar like that,” she said. “The popcorn song and shaking the juice box and down-down baby were my favorite songs she did.”

Parents as Teachers offers a number of events throughout the year, including those that give parents information about their child’s development.

“The feedback was fantastic,” Fink said of the concert. “Parents were very receptive to the idea and would like to see it repeated.”

Parents as Teachers has been in the district for close to two decades. Parents as Teachers offers district families a free, voluntary program providing practical information on child development.

The program has seven parent educators that make home visits to offer developmental information from a brain research curriculum, Fink said.

The program visits about 300 families a year, offering services from the time a family finds out they are expecting – prenatal visits to the age a child turns 3, she said.

“We teach the parents to be good observers of their children,” Fink said. “We talk about milestones and offer suggestions on activities with the child.”

As a parent-educator for the program, Oakleaf-Soell said the event was more than just singing and dancing; it was a learning experience.

“Exposure to music enhances so many critical areas of development for children, especially their brain development,” she said. “I hope this energizes parents to continue using singing and rhymes each day with their child. I loved that Krista (Funky Mama) encouraged parents to make up their own silly songs, because kids love to hear their parents voices, no matter what they sound like.”

While the night focused on the youngsters having a good time, the concert also served another purpose.

“We asked parents to bring a nonperishable food item for the De Soto Multi-Service Center,” Fink said. “I had a trunk full of food items to deliver today (Wednesday).”


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