The parent and toddler groups at our Child and Family Centre play an important part in our calendar week and we see them as an essential part of our programmes. These groups meet so many needs and they are crucial for a smooth transition into nursery as the children and parents familiarise themselves with the building and staff members.
We recently relaunched these groups again and they are meet on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. We had to go through our waiting lists for the selection process, as spaces are still limited due to the current pandemic.
We allocate each family their own section of the room where we put out chairs for the adults and toys for the children. We sanitise all the toys before and after the group and wipe down all the chairs and toilets.
One of the main priorities of the group is to encourage the parents to interact with the children in the activities set out. We understand that play interaction is so important regarding bonding and creating positive memories within the brain. We put out several activities. These include drawing on a large piece of paper with coloured pens, playing with building blocks, chalk, cars, trucks, jigsaws, storytelling and a house corner. We normally sing but we cannot do that now due to the Covid rules.
All the children have fun playing with the toys and when the weather is good, we gather outside in the playground. When outside the children benefit from all the outdoor toys. Another element of the group is to eat and drink together so we serve the adults tea, coffee and biscuits when they first arrive. Half way through, we serve toast and milk for the children. Some of the families had recently celebrated Eid and had brought some home cooked food for us to try. This was a real blessing as we get to taste different cuisines and experience a little bit of their culture. We sometimes receive donations at the Child and Family Centre so during these groups we have been able to distribute them. Over the past while, we have been able to give out clothes, food, nappies, wipes and food vouchers.
We have been desperate for the children to have a safe place to play and socially integrate with each other. The families have been extremely grateful for this opportunity to gather as they recognise it is very important for their children’s overall development and well-being. The spaces filled quickly with families who welcomed the chance to come to the Child and Family Centre. The gatherings have been a huge success with the children enjoying the freedom to play with toys and see other children as opposed to being on their own at home. The parents are also happy to return to some sort of normality that the group provides. We also know that it is so important for the parents to get that social interaction at a safe distance as they have been struggling with social isolation.