PLAY-AND-LEARN

Facilitated Parent/Toddler Playgroup: Six-Week Series

Younger toddlers: 12-18 months

Older toddlers: 18-30 months

Play-and-Learn groups are facilitated parent/toddler playgroups, led by professional early childhood educators with years of experience guiding children as they learn to play with one another. These weekly playgroups allow children to make meaningful connections and develop early social skills as they interact with the same group of children over time, in a structured "preschool warm-up" environment. 

Play-and-Learn groups also offer a very unique opportunity for parents to observe the instructor putting child development theory into action!  During the course of the Play-and-Learn group, tricky toddler behaviors emerge and parents are able to see how the teacher handles the behavior - giving parents new language and strategies to use at home.  

Each weekly session includes circle time (facilitated songs/games with the instructor), quiet observation of the children playing, parent observation of the instructor modeling interactions with the children, snack time (brought from home), and carefully selected weekly readings and discussions on important toddler topics like fostering social skills, navigating no's, tantrums, and more. Time is allotted each week to answer individual questions and concerns around these topics. 

Each session is six weeks long. Please note that many families will sign up for several consecutive sessions, which allows both parents and children to fully immerse themselves in this routine/philosophy and gain the most benefits from the experience. These classes ideally are taken in sequence for up to 1-2 years before a child enters preschool.

Groups are limited to 10 children/caregivers. No drop-ins.

Please see Frequently Asked Questions for more information.


“This class has been among the most beneficial and supportive things I have experienced since becoming a mom! Most impactfully, the observation of teacher-child interactions and the readings came to together in a way that allowed me to develop my own foundation for how I want to be as a mama. I was able to ask questions, share concerns, and receive tangible support...My child flourished in this group, moving from curiosity and individual play to an increased comfort and enjoyment of structure. Most importantly, he began to understand about friendship and navigating playing with others. He truly loved his playgroup time! This group allowed both me and my son to grow and learn in a safe, creative, comfortable setting and we have continued to integrate and remember our time in Play-and-Learn with fondness!”
— Abbie, parent participant

frequently asked questions

How will I benefit from this group as a parent/caregiver? 

Play-and-Learn groups are designed to support parents on the journey of connected and effective parenting in the following ways:

  • Having protected time to positively connect with your child via “I love you rituals” and parent-child floor time
  •  Learning more about your child’s temperament, interests, and learning process through observing your child play in a group setting
  • Learning new strategies to engage your child in play and support your child in resolving conflicts through observing the facilitator with the group
  • Having the opportunity to practice positive discipline strategies in a safe and supportive environment
  • Reading and discussing articles on toddler topics with the facilitator and other parents, and sharing ideas, support and resources on particular questions and concerns

Each component has rich benefits for parents (as you can read in the testimonials). Most parents share that actually seeing the strategies that one may read or hear about in action is the most valuable learning opportunity. As a new teacher almost eighteen years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to observe wise, experienced teachers model conflict resolution, setting limits, and encouraging cooperation from young children. I am still greatly indebted to these mentors and I wanted to find a way to share these ways of interacting with the wider parent community. The Play-and-Learns have allowed for this opportunity!

How will my child benefit from participating in a Play-and-Learn group?

Play-and-Learn groups provide your child with an introduction to a structured environment, with an experienced teacher gently guiding them as they learn to play with other children.   Children (even as young as 12 months old) are encouraged to be problem-solvers and are given tools to participate in entering play, turn-taking, negotiating with friends, finding alternatives to hitting and/or finding a voice when they are being hit or having a toy taken from them.  The toddler years offer a crucial window for laying the ground work for this emotional intelligence, and self-regulation-the true keys to Kindergarten Readiness and whole life success!  The group also serves as a “warm-up” to a group setting, with circle time, gentle transitions, free play in designated learning environments (fine motor, gross motor, sensory, art, and dramatic play) as well as introducing the idea of group clean-up time!  

 Are the methods research-based? 

All the methods we draw from are research-based theories taught in the academia of child development, and never pop-parenting or "celebrity parenting” ideas - although sometimes celebrities do catch on to these ideas and, for better or worse, turn them into trends (the RIE method was developed in the 1970's, but has become a recent celebrity trend). All the methods we draw from are taught within the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accredited field of Child Development. Our trainers have a minimum of a BA in Child Development (though most have M.A.’s) and ten years’ classroom experience, as well as many post-graduate and continuing education hours.

Is this a RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) playgroup? 

This is not a RIE playgroup, though we do draw on some components of the RIE philosophy, namely restrictive intervention - meaning we watch first, see how the children are handling the conflict on their own and then offer support as needed. This is a basic philosophy of effective teaching, which empowers the children to be players in their own problem solving, and builds self-confidence through the basic belief that they are capable. Of course children cannot solve all of their own conflicts, and this is where the modeling comes in.

Why are there no drop-ins allowed? 

We do not allow drop-ins for two reasons. One is to create an opportunity for the children to get to know one another and feel comfortable with one another. Children interact quite differently with children they have never met before, versus children they are comfortable with - this allows them to really practice their emerging social skills as they may soon do in a school-like setting. Second, we do not allow drop-ins because the parents in the group begin to feel connected in this confidential and supportive environment to ask questions and share struggles. Out of respect for both of these connections, we do not allow drop-ins. When you join a Play-and-Learn, you will see the value of a commitment to this kind of class.

Contact kellam@earlychildhoodmatters.org for more information and to register