Clayton Early Learning
29Jul/14Off

Play and Learn: A Unique Approach to School Readiness

Molly Yost

Peter Blank, of the Clayton Early Learning Social Media Team, sat down with Clayton Institute Play and Learn facilitators, Anitra Cortez, Josefina Gutierrez, and Patty Hernandez, to learn more about this exciting project and how it works to promote early childhood development with parents and children birth to three.

Social Media Team (SM): To start, can you give us a brief overview of Play and Learn?

Play and Learn facilitators (PL): Play and Learn is a free program for families with children birth to three that consists of adult-child activity sessions, which meet twice a week to focus on themes in early childhood development.

SM: How many different program groups exist? And where are they found?

PL: There are six groups overall. Clayton Early Learning facilitates four different Play and Learn groups and our collaborating partner, Mile High Montessori, helps to facilitate two more.  The groups meet at our main campus in the Institute (3993 Martin Luther King Blvd.), our school at Far Northeast (4800 Telluride St), City of God Church in Southwest Denver (5255 W. Warren Ave), Quigg Newton Homes (4558 Navajo St) and the Mile High Montessori centers in Lowry (957 Ulster Way) and Northeast (3503 Marion St).

SM: Wow, you guys sure are busy. What does a typical activity session look like?

PL:  Each session is two hours long and has a set schedule. The schedule for the sessions includes free play, group time with music and movement, parent/child reading, outdoor play, snack and more.  Although these schedules are the same for each group, every activity and session can vary based on the interest and needs of the children.  Also, information from the sessions is expanded during monthly parent meetings focusing on specific child development and parenting topics.

SM: You cover a lot of material in just two hours! What are some of the goals during these sessions and for Play and Learn overall?

PL: The primary goal of Play and Learn is to prepare children and families for school success. We do this by increasing access to early childhood development information and linking our participants to the school community and other community resources.  We’ve also seen that a high percentage of participating families enroll their children in high quality preschool programs in the year before Kindergarten.

SM: Sounds like a great way to address school readiness.  When did this program start?

PL: Clayton first received funding for three initial groups to begin during the 2010-2011 school year, so we are entering our 5th year.  Over the years we have been able to add three more Play and Learn groups with the help of collaborating partners and more funding.

SM: Happy 5 year anniversary!Josefina, you started as a Play and Learn participant and now facilitate the group at Quigg Newton.  Can you share with us how you got there?

JG: I started bringing my daughter to the new Play and Learn group at Quigg Newton and after a few months a position opened up for facilitator of that group.  I have over 15 years of experience working in early childhood education with groups like AmeriCorps and Catholic Charities and have both my group leader and director certifications. When the position opened up, I decided to apply.

SM: I’m glad you can continue using your professional experience in Early Childhood Education to help facilitate this great program.  I have a few more questions before we finish.  First,can anyone join a Play and Learn group? And second, how can you get more information about openings and joining a group?

PL: Our target population is low-income families of children 0-3 who either can’t access or choose not to enroll their children in formal early childhood education programs.  If you want more information on how to enroll or if you are eligible you can call Patty Hernandez at 303-398-8566.

SM: That’s all the questions we have for now.  Thank you all for your hard work and taking the time to share more about Play and Learn!

Do you have or care for a child birth to three years old? Our Play and Learn groups have openings and could be right for you! Call Patty for more information and to find the group nearest you – 303-398-8566.

Do you have or care for a child birth to three years old? Our Play and Learn groups have openings and could be right for you! Call Patty for more information and to find the group nearest you – 303-398-8566.

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