We recently went on an adventure to check out our local Parents as Teachers Play Center. Parents as Teachers is a phenomenal organization for new parents that provides home visits and other resources to promote early childhood development and school readiness. Our local chapter has free Play Center with open play times during the week.
Parents as Teachers is located inside of our school district’s technology building, which was originally a middle school. A building with multiple doors (hello former fire drills), it took us a lap around the parking lot to find the front door. I asked for directions from some moms of walkers leaving the previous session, and they helped me find the right room once I made it inside.
Holy toyland. We walked into a spacious room with different toy centers throughout. I didn’t know where to start. Did we need to sign in? Overwhelmed, I asked for help again, and a friendly Parents as Teachers educator welcomed us and directed me to the area with the most baby toys. Bins and shelves of toys, standing mirrors, and a kid bookshelf encircled an area for the little ones to play on a colorful mat, with a soft foam thing in the middle for beginner crawlers to practice their skills.
There was one other baby chilling with us, accompanied by her friendly Grandma Chris. Chris further helped show me the ropes, including my favorite Play Center amenity: a wash bin to leave toys that have been mouthed. I’m in love. Baby puts EVERYTHING in his mouth, teething or not, so germs are always on the back of my mind.
Keys and rattles and balls oh my! We played. We read Baby Signs for Mealtime. We crawled around. We moved on to the music area. Rainsticks! Oh the fun of rainsticks. Yum. We added more things to the wash bin. We nursed in a comfy beanbag chair, next to another kid bookshelf filled with books about dinosaurs. I made a mental note to check those out next time. A half hour into playtime, another baby shows up to party with her mom. Friend!
All in all, we had a fun filled (free!) playtime with high quality toys and books. This place should be hopping! Talk about an underutilized resource. Granted, the center might reach a lot more people if they had a play time on the weekend for working parents. Then again, if little ones are in daycare everyday, they might already be getting lots of social interaction and exposure to new toys and things to climb on.
If our first visit was typical, we might not make many new friends through the center, but we can definitely bring our own. The Play Center would be a perfect place to meet up for playdates. We will definitely be back.
Does your local Parents as Teachers have a Play Center? What free fun have you found near your neighborhood?
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