• Parents as Teachers playgroup starts on post

  • Dolls, coloring stations, books, puzzles and blocks were just some of the toys children played with during the Fort Leavenworth and Unified School District 207 Parents as Teachers playgroup Sept. 16 at the USD 207 annex.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Dolls, coloring stations, books, puzzles and blocks were just some of the toys children played with during the Fort Leavenworth and Unified School District 207 Parents as Teachers playgroup Sept. 16 at the USD 207 annex.
    The Parents as Teachers program currently has playgroups in Leavenworth, but wanted to offer another option for post participants.
    “Playgroups offer the opportunity to meet with other parents/caregivers, develop friendships, make connections and share parenting experiences and ideas,” said Kicia Wagner, Parents as Teachers coordinator. “Playgroups also give children an opportunity to play with other children and develop and practice their social skills.
    “By offering an additional playgroup on post, we have increased these opportunities for military families residing in our community,” she said, “and our goal is to bring awareness of Parents as Teachers on post. By offering this playgroup, we hope to connect with more military families and provide them with information, support and encouragement during the early years of their children’s lives.”
    The Parents as Teachers program, which is funded by the Kansas State Department of Education, USD 453 and USD 207, is targeted for families with children from birth to kindergarten. The free program matches parents with trained educators who will make regular home visits and create an individualized plan to support parents as their children grow and develop.
    “Families are visited once or twice a month, and parent educators offer research-based insight on early brain development as well as offer tools and advice for parents about what to expect during each stage of development,” Wagner said. “The goal is to provide parents with child development knowledge, parenting support and increase children’s school readiness.”
    Chelsea Toft, mother of 16-month-old Lainey Toft, said the program has been a helpful resource.
    “They’ll give us little sheets that talk about social and emotional development and all the skills that they should be practicing depending on their age,” Toft said. “They’ll also offer resources if the parents are having any concerns or issues. For instance, when she was really little, and I was adjusting to being a first-time mom and staying at home, to work on patience (the parent educator) gave me some meditation information to try.
    “We’ve loved being a part of (the program), and it has definitely helped me connect in different ways,” she said. “I have an early childhood background, but it is amazing what I don’t remember. I thought I knew it all, but I don’t. I’m definitely still learning, especially since she is my own.”
    Arin Principe, mother of 3-year-old Mila Principe, said she highly recommends the program.
    Page 2 of 2 - “One of the most important jobs in life is being a parent, but no one teaches you how to be a parent, so they just make sure to check up on your well-being, and they focus on the parents’ needs and the child’s needs in order to help you be a better parent,” Principe said. “Also, along with the playgroups they have monthly group connections, which helps foster a sense of community within the playgroup family.”
    Katelyn Solich, mother of 13-month-old Elyse Solich, said she only recently registered for the program Sept. 13, but had high hopes for it after it was recommended to her by a friend.
    “I’m just excited about having somebody come in and really hone in on her skills and be able to take time to watch her continue to develop,” Solich said. “When I heard about it from my friend, I thought it was a really neat program, and it is such a good help, especially for people that are constantly moving.”
    All families in the Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth school districts with children prenatal to 48 months are eligible to enroll in the program. The Parents as Teachers playgroup is open to families with children 2 months to 3 years old who are enrolled in the program. The playgroup meets from 9-10:30 a.m. on Mondays.
    For more information, call (913) 684-1450 or e-mail Wagner at kicia.wagner@lvpioneers.org.
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