November 28, 2017
New Bedford program helps children get ready for preschool, learn through play
“NEW BEDFORD — PACE Head Start in New Bedford has added a new parent-child program to help families get ready for preschool and enhance their children’s learning at home through play.
The Playing on Purpose or “POP” program started with a series of four morning sessions in August. Ten children attended from seven families.
They met their teachers and visited the classrooms. Parents got a chance to learn about how simple games, like building with blocks or acting out a book, can be opportunities for learning, said Jill Fox, Head Start director at People Acting in Community Endeavors (PACE).
“It’s just a really good way to kind of embed learning,” she said.
Plus, none of the children who attended the August sessions cried on the first day of school, she said.
The POP program was developed by Kelly Rodriguez, a social worker and early childhood mental health consultant. She works with PACE regularly.
Rodriguez said children learn best through play, and the program helps parents use play to enhance their children’s social and emotional development. Sessions address relationship building, emotional literacy, self regulation and problem solving.
“We see a lot of children that are struggling with challenging behaviors,” she said.
Fox said families were invited to follow-up sessions during the school year, and two more sessions remain.
The work was funded with a $5,000 grant from Southcoast Health. Although PACE is not applying for a grant for the program for next year because it is pursuing funding for other things, the organization plans to continue the POP program within its budget, Fox said.”