MABTON - Parents of children ages birth to five years have a unique opportunity in "Ready for Kinder," a series of classes offered at Artz-Fox that incorporate learning and play.
"Basically we have parents who have many opportunities to do rich conversation and rich play-time with their babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers," said Mabton Superintendent Sandra Pasiero-Davis. "The defining difference is parents don't know exactly what to do.
"In this class we give them age appropriate materials, books, puppets and toys, and show how to use them," she said.
The concept is simple. The intent is not to turn a home into a classroom, but to maximize potential in family time that already exists.
"We're asking mom and dad to take a normal home environment and make it purposeful," said Pasiero-Davis.
Basically, the program makes certain actions familiar to wee ones, like eye movement from left to right, properly turning pages and holding books right side up. Pasiero-Davis said that playing with certain toys develop neurological pathways in a child's brain that pave the way to learning.
Even how a parent talks to a child can build pathways to learning, she said. Hearing parents say certain words and becoming familiar with them helps when the child starts to learn to read. She said that action words, like going, coming, fast and slow, and positional words, like over and under, are important. She said that if a child knows those words in his or her head, it's going to connect more quickly when the child sees those words in print.
She said utilizing the Ready for Kinder materials helps build confidence in a child to explore new things, enjoy the exploration, take risks and become more accepting of new ideas.
The classes are free of charge and parents get to keep the books, puppets and toys that facilitate fun learning.
The classes take place at Artz-Fox Elementary school at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20, is for parents of children ages four to five; Feb. 22 is for parents of children ages three to four; Feb. 26 is for parents of toddlers ages two to three that can talk; Feb. 27 is for parents of children from infants to two-year-olds.