We are currently prepping to serve new families and children through our Play To Learn program in Spring 2016. UWATX launched Play To Learn in 2012 to coach parents on fostering school readiness at home for children who do not attend childcare. Parents and their children attend classes at accessible neighborhood locations, such as libraries, and learn together from early learning coaches.
We could not serve so many families without the help of volunteer groups, mostly from companies we run campaigns with, who assist us by setting up tablets and putting together Play To Learn take home kits. But what exactly makes up the Play To Learn curriculum?
Each week, the classes have a a different theme and curriculum to go along with that theme. The eight-week program follows these themes, in order: social/emotional skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, language development, social/emotional skills, geometry, emerging literacy and numeracy. Each week’s kit contains a book, a handout and hands-on materials needed for the lesson, such as construction paper, paints, stickers, etc. For example, the week on language development contains a Curious George book, Curious George puppets, journals, stickers and colored pencils. The puppets have questions on the back in both English and Spanish, for parents to ask their children at home to further promote language development.
We also provide families with Samsung Galaxy tablets so that they can continue learning at home after each week’s class. Before the program begins, volunteers ready the tablets by setting up a Gmail account for the parents, downloading educational apps, bookmarking helpful websites and setting up a children’s safety platform. The tablets are used every week in our curriculum, and if parents attend at least 80% of the classes, they get to keep their tablet at the end of the program. This is part of what makes Play To Learn different than other parent-education classes, and our goal is to decrease the “digital divide” between low-income families and high-income families.
To help us prep for the upcoming spring program, volunteers from Kerbey Lane Café assembled a total of 810 take home bags earlier this month, which is six weeks worth of take home materials for 135 families in the spring. National Instruments employees volunteered earlier this year by setting up 56 Samsung Galaxy tablets; thank you to both groups for helping us prep for the spring!