By Josie Enriquez and Jessica Olivares

Play-based educational programs for parents and young children have many wonderful benefits. The National Association for the Education of Young Children believes that preschool children learn best when:

  • They have positive and caring relationships with adults and other children;
  • They receive carefully planned, intentional guidance and assistance; and
  • They can safely encounter and explore many interesting things in their environment.

In child-care programs, relationships with families are critical. Caring teachers and caregivers learn from the experiences, knowledge, culture, and child-rearing beliefs of family members.

Empower Yolo recognizes the importance and benefits of early play-based experiences for children from birth to 5 years old. Its Play School Experience is a great community program giving parents and caregivers and children from birth to 5 years old the opportunity for meaningful interaction through play.

There are many great benefits from this program. Parents learn strategies to strengthen their relationships with their children; children develop their neurological, psychological and social skills; and parents exchange parenting tips and concerns, and share their milestones.

Play School Experience is helpful for child development because lectures are designed with the five protective factors in mind: parent resilience, knowledge of parenting and child development, social and emotional competence of children, social connections and concrete support in times of need.

Parents can learn activities that will help them learn and grow with their children. They will make connections that strengthen their role as their child’s first teacher. We also provide enrichment activities, moving to music, and story time.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts with Davis Community Church and Davis Community Church Nursery School, Empower Yolo is able to host the Davis Play School Experience Program in a larger, well-equipped space with the help of volunteers. Regular co-facilitators are Donna Frole and Joan Whitmer from the Davis community.

Empower Yolo offers Play School Experience in several service locations:

  • Davis: DCCNS playrooms, 412 C St. (enter through the gate on Fourth Street), 530-757-1261, program director Jessica Olivares; meets Mondays and Wednesdays for children from birth to age 5, 10-11:30 a.m.;
  • Woodland: 175 Walnut St., 530-406-7221, program director Lizbeth Alverado; meets Tuesdays for 2- to 5-year-olds, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Thursdays for children from birth to age 2, 10 to 11 a.m.;
  • Knights Landing Center: 9586 Mill St., 530-735-1776, program director Lina Hernandez; meets Wednesdays for children from birth to age 5, 10 to 11 a.m.

All Play School Experience groups are free to the community. They are open groups, meaning families can drop in anytime during the group. There is also no commitment required if you sign up for any of the Play School Experience programs.

Community members are always welcome to help out by donating their time to design lectures, co-facilitate Play School Experience groups, or help families on field trips. We also welcome needed materials such as preschool art supplies for our activities, and coffee K-Cups, disposable cups, napkins and creamers for the parents.

Donations can be made at 175 Walnut St. in Woodland, at 441 D St. in Davis or at 9586 Mill St. in Knights Landing.

– Josie Enriquez is a case management supervisor at Empower Yolo. She has been with Yolo Center for Families/Empower Yolo since 2002. Josie has been trained in the California Safe and Healthy Families home visiting model, a child abuse prevention model, and has trained extensively in family support under a family resource center case management model. Josie supervises staff who run Play School Experience in Davis, Woodland and Knights Landing.

– Jessica Olivares is the Davis site coordinator and a case manager at Empower Yolo. She has been with Yolo Center for Families/Empower Yolo since 2012. She oversees Playschool Experience at the Davis location.

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