Play day worth picturesGive young children a day in the park, an opportunity to learn and a chance to be seen on TV and you might have created a recipe for educational success. That is the belief of those involved in the Community Connection for Child Care (CCCC) Exempt Provider Training and Support Services program (EPTSS) who have visited four county parks over the past few weeks giving children and those who take care of children a chance to learn new games that will benefit their educational development. At Shafter's Mannel Park, everyone was videotaped playing games so that the learning experience could be passed on to those who could not attend.
While wandering through Mannel Park, a casual observer would have seen 10 child care providers and 57 children involved. At one location, they were busy making guitars out of Kleenex boxes, paper towel rolls and rubber bands. Continuing on, one would encounter others concocting “string cheese bugs” out of string cheese and pretzel sticks and apple faces with the help of peanut butter, raisins, chocolate chips and sunflower seeds. Elsewhere, pretend kitchens with televisions, sinks, refrigerators and stoves were being constructed with boxes and contact paper. Future agricultural scientists were learning about seeds and plants at another location. Still others, learned about dental hygiene by brushing a model dinosaur's teeth.
“I was so excited about it,” said exempt child care provider Emilia Garza. “I learned a lot. There were toys and ideas you could make out of every day items that didn't cost a lot.”
CCCC calls the experience “Play Days in the Park.” Preschool-through-age 10 children have a fun time making musical instruments, food art, building habitats, science projects and even learn about summer safety and brushing their teeth. Parents and license exempt child care providers who are caring for children of families enrolled in the CalWORKS and subsidized child care certificate programs work right along with them.
What is fun for the children is a learning experience for the child care providers. The EPTSS program helps with information and resources that include age appropriate activities, developmental milestones for children, information and referrals regarding developmental concerns and ideas for no and low cost activities and toys. Play Days in the Park is one way it is done giving providers a chance to observe and participate in low or no cost activities for children, network with other providers and see how to use interaction skills to encourage youthful creativity and exploration. Proposition 10 provides the funding.
CCCC Program Support Division Manager Kerri Jones and Supervisor Janet Shaw put the training details together and Home Visitors/Trainers Lisa Albert, Lisa Doerges, Rosa Martinez, Debbie Mathews and Sally Ramirez implement them along with help from members of CCCC Special Projects and the California Child Care Initiative Project.
Chronicling the Mannel Park events with video cameras were KETN Production Manager John Lenko and TV Producer Kevin Willey. “Play Days in the Park” will also appear as an educational television production, designed by CCCC Child Care Production's Brooke Antonioni, later this year, giving parents, those who operate child development centers, licensed and exempt child care providers a chance to learn from the experience.
“Once produced, it will be broadcast through KETN,” Antonioni said. “The Child Care Productions program broadcasts trainings every Thursday from 1-2 p.m., and the video can by checked out, too, through the CCCC Lending Library at 2000 24th Street in Bakersfield. It will also be distributed to the 11 CCCC office locations for use by staff.”