Not every parent is trained to be a teacher. Programs like Elkhart Learn & Play help parents become their child’s first teacher. Operation Round Up, which is funded by TCEC members like you, gave $1,500 for the program in January.
Victoria and Heather, facilitators of Elkhart Learn & Play, applied for funds on January 1. They outlined needs for resources like:
- Better storage and transportation items
- An enhanced reading center
- More interactive stations
- A larger sensory bin
- Materials to send home with parents and children
Elkhart Learn & Play Staff
Victoria Magwire, MS-ECSE: Early Childhood Teacher for Russell Child Development Center and Elkhart Learn & Play Facilitator
Heather LaFond: Learn & Play Facilitator
Lisa Guinn: Coordinator for Russell Child Development Center
About Learn & Play
Learn & Play is a Russell Child Development Center program out of southwest Kansas. The program is for children from birth to age 5 and their parents. In 2014 Elkhart became one of what is now 27 Learn and Play sites across 19 counties. Founders saw a need for local early childhood development programs. The sessions have an emphasis on developing literacy, fine motor, gross motor, cognitive, and sensory skills in an engaging play-based setting.
Activities for parents and their children
The program's sessions offer a safe environment for children to come and have fun, make a mess, and engage with other kids and their parents, all while developing those essential early childhood skills. Sessions also provide parents with an opportunity to get out of their house and meet other parents.
Learn & Play has various activities that change each week. All activities have a design to be easily replicated at home. A few activities are listed.
- Arts and crafts
- Sensory bins
- Library centers
- Baby areas
- Dramatic play
- Open-ended writing
Making an impact
Victoria reminisced on what Learn & Play means to her and the program's impact on the kids.
"Watching the kiddos play and learn has been amazing,” she said. “One of my favorite moments was when they played with fake snow and were all so engaged. It was great to see meaningful connections made with other kiddos and parents engaging with each other. It was in that moment that I realized, 'this is what it's about.'"
Be part of the program
If you live in Elkhart, Rolla, or the surrounding area, you can join Learn & Play for free. Their sessions take place at the Morton County Library on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. For more information and to view scheduled sessions, you can visit www.rcdc4kids.org/learnandplay.
TCEC members make it possible
Operation Round Up would not be possible without our members. If you are not already rounding up your bill and would like to begin, or if you would like to make a one-time contribution, visit the Operation Round Up page in SmartHub to view and change your contribution options. One-time contributions can also be made by making a check payable to the 'TCEC Foundation' with Operation Round Up in the memo line and mailing it to TCEC, PO Box 880, Hooker, OK 73945. To learn more, contact TCEC.
The TCEC Foundation Board of Directors meets quarterly to review applications for Operation Round Up and disburse funds. Applications are due April 1 for consideration at the next meeting on April 13. If you know of a need, encourage the charitable organization to apply at www.tcec.coop/oru.
Hear from the Elkhart Learn & Play facilitators.