By Lois Meisenheimer, First Years PAT, Sterling
Every month our parent educators provide several opportunities for families to participate in Group Connection activities. What are group connections? These activities are specifically designed based on what YOU tell us you want to do or learn more about. Group connections are a chance for you to get out and about in your community and participate in fun, age-appropriate activities with your child.
Most of our group connection activities include opportunities for parent-child interactions around a specific topic or skill that are designed to help your child learn through play and help you increase your knowledge of ways to support your child’s development. For example, a sand and water play group connection provides multiple ways to use sand and water to practice dumping and pouring, building, learning about sinking and floating, etc. The parent educators build in explanations for you about the math, science, and fine motor skills your child is learning with each activity.
Group connections also help increase your knowledge of ways you can support your child’s development by accessing activities that are available in your community. For example, we may plan a group connection at the local library or at a community event such as the National Night Out. Parent educators are available to help you navigate community spaces and activities that you may not have used before and can help you connect with people from agencies who can help you take advantage of free or low-cost family activities right in your community.
Group connections are also designed so that you can meet other families with children close to the same age as your child and get to know others in your community who may be having the same parenting experiences and/or challenges. Connecting with other parents can provide you with a network of people that you can rely on for support when parenting challenges arise or when you just need another adult to talk to after a long day with your little one.
Occasionally, we will offer a group connection that features a guest speaker on a family well-being topic of interest to a number of parents. For example, we may have a speaker provide a cooking class or a class for parents on budgeting or discipline. We also encourage YOU to volunteer to share your talents with other parents! Do you have a hobby you would like to share? Tell your parent educator and she will arrange a group connection activity!