“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Playtime is one of the most important ways to promote healthy child development. Children learn, flex their creative ability and curiosity, interact with others, grow, and most of all have fun! Both children and adults benefit from playtime, especially in an open and shared environment that allows each individual to hone in on and improve their social, behavioral, and emotional skills.
Way to Grow is proud to offer such an environment to the community through its Play to Grow program.
Offered free of charge, Play to Grow is a weekly early learning class that provides curriculum-based learning opportunities for children under the age of five and their parents. During these sessions, families have access to Family Educators for home visits, health, early education, and to Resource Advocates for connections to services. Play to Grow not only offers great socialization opportunities for children, but is an environment where parents can socialize with one another.
The group is held every Wednesday from 10:00-11:30 AM in the Way to Grow Family Room at Lucy C. Laney at Community School in North Minneapolis and is open to the public. Each Play to Grow session contains five elements:
- Free play
- Circle time
- Snack time
- Table activities/sensory play
- Free play (repeated)
While Play to Grow officially starts at 10:00 AM, parents and children may arrive as early as 8:30 AM for extended free play while our Family Educators set up.
Free play is an important part of our program because it encourages children to interact with the environment around them on their own terms. It allows children to use their dexterity, creativity and imagination, and motor skills. Additionally, it helps them build their confidence and teaches them to work in groups, so they learn how to play with others through sharing and the occasional time where a conflict needs to be resolved.
Circle time is a group interactive time where the children and adults come together to focus on one activity, led by a Family Educator. Usually, circle time will consist of an interactive story, singing, or reading. This time is important because it allows the children to bond as a group over a common interest, but in a setting where they are being taught by an educator.
Because childhood is a crucial time for development and growth, Play to Grow provides a snack time with healthy and nutritious foods to supplement the children’s midmorning needs between meals. Plus, who didn’t love snack time as a kid (and even as an adult now)!
The program then leads into table activities and sensory play held in different stations throughout the room. Typically, there is a sensory table, play-doh, and a craft project for the children. Sensory play is valuable because these activities stimulate the children’s senses of touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight, and hearing. It leads the child to learn more complex tasks and supports cognitive growth.
As the day circles back into free play and winds down, this time allows the parents more time to interact with one another as well as with Family Educators. While Play to Grow is valuable for children, it is equally as valuable to adults as it allows time for socialization and peer networking. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Here’s what parents are saying about Play to Grow:
To learn more about Play to Grow, contact Ronel Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 612-874-4740.
Read more about the development of social skills in young children: https://waytogrow.org/the-value-of-social-skills/