By Jill Johnson
Early Learning Project Coordinator & Communications Specialist
Community-Minded Enterprises / Northeast Early Learning Regional Coalition
The “Love. Talk. Play.” campaign has as its foundation that parents are their child’s first and most important teachers. Turns out that a Communications Specialist like me can learn a lot from parents too, as I found on Feb. 5. Mary Ellen Braks with the Spokane County Library District and I had the pleasure of bringing “Love. Talk. Play.” to parents with the West Valley School District’s ECEAP program. (ECEAP stands for Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program. You can learn more from the Department of Early Learning.)
We began the session by sharing the materials with the parents — and by share, I really mean share. It was a true dialogue. They shared with us their struggles and strategies in raising little ones. I learned so much.
I learned that M&M’S are great counting tools. That moms feel like taxi drivers, dishwashers and cooks. And that as little ones turn into not-so-little ones, it gets harder. Mostly I learned that being busy isn’t a barrier, but rather an opportunity to be creative with kids.
With 2014 parent engagement work stretched ahead of me, I am rethinking my approach to “Love. Talk. Play.” Do our sessions include time for parents to share? Are the activities a good fit for busy moms? How big a bag of M&M’S?
Learn more about parent engagement in Northeast Washington
We ended our “Love. Talk. Play.” time with a lesson in music and how it creates phonological awareness. Actually it was phonological awareness disguised as making music with pots, pans and wooden spoons. We had a ton of fun, and I headed back to my office a little wiser and with the Tanka, Tanka, Skunk song stuck in my head!