Playtime at Providence St. Peter

Child Care Action Council and health provider open doors to promote early learning

lpemberton@theolympian.comMarch 3, 2014 

Every Monday, a conference room at Providence St. Peter Family Medicine in Olympia transforms into a preschool-like atmosphere.

Homemade play dough and cookie cutters are arranged on the table top.

Blocks and stacking toys are set on the rug.

Tables and chairs are moved aside for a place to listen during story time and a spot to dance during music time.

The free program, called Kaleidoscope Play & Learn, is a partnership between Providence St. Peter Family Medicine and the Child Care Action Council.

It is supported in part with grants from the Nisqually Tribe and Child Care Aware.

“It’s amazing,” parent Ashleigh Harris, 22, of Lacey said. “If we tell (son) Alex that we’re not going to play group, he freaks out. He asks for it every day.”

The play group was created about two years ago to help promote early child learning, especially for youngsters who don’t attend day care or preschool programs, according to Fran Williams, program manager with the Child Care Action Council.

“It’s based on learning through playing, and following the child’s lead in play,” she said.

In November, the play group moved to Providence St. Peter Family Medicine. That allows medical residents to attend and answer questions – or in some cases get hands-on experience – with child development.

“They actually get to see some of the clients that they saw during pregnancy,” Williams said.

Organizers hope to grow the program to include well-child exams and other family support, according to Rick Brandt-Kreutz, who is on the behavioral science faculty with Providence.

It already serves as an informal support group for several women who went through a teen-pregnancy program, he said.

And it allows moms, dads, grandparents and other caregivers to visit while their children learn to share and play together.

“The power of the connections that are made are just really wonderful,” Brandt-Kreutz said.

If you go

What: Kaleidoscope Play & Learn, a free play group for children up to age 5 and their parents, grandparents and other caregivers.

When: 10-11:30 a.m. Mondays.

Where: Main entrance conference room at Providence St. Peter Family Medicine, 525 Lilly Road NE, Olympia.

Information: To register or get more information, contact Fran Williams at 360-786-8907.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com

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