BY TAMMY TOOR
Before six-year-old Landon started elementary school, his mom recalls how he would wake up every day and quickly ask her, “Is it school today?” If the answer was “yes,” then he would quickly and excitedly get dressed in anticipation for his time at his Parks and Recreation Play and Learn program.
Landon is now in Grade 1, but he attended the Play and Learn programs for three years ending with the Kinder Prep program. His dad was really impressed with how these programs helped his son practice his skills for school and feels that his success in school is largely due to his participation in the Play and Learn programs.
The City of Nanaimo’s Play and Learn monthly programs help children to engage, explore and discover the world around them. Led by experienced and dedicated staff, children learn how enjoyable learning can be through interactive play, songs, stories, crafts and exercise that aids them in developing a wide range of skills, including emotional, social and cognitive abilities, problem-solving, interpersonal play, language proficiency and fundamental movement skills through play-based recreation activities.
Tracy Stuart, recreation coordinator for Play and Learn programs, says, “We often forget how important play is to our children’s healthy brain development, but time and time again, studies have shown that play helps children with speech and language abilities, social interaction and boosts cognitive development. With all of these benefits, it makes sense to emphasize play in our programs.”
Julie Miller, early childhood educator, has been teaching at Beban Park since 1992. She loves watching children come to the classroom on their first day hardly able to leave their mother or father’s side to the time that they run through the door ahead of their parents so excited to participate in the day’s activities with their friends.“I get to help create a positive learning environment that creates unforgettable memories for these children.”
Play and Learn programs, for children three to five years old, are registered by the month and occur at Beban Park, Bowen Park, Kin Hut Activity Centre and Oliver Woods Community Centre. Most run two times a week for two hours each day. For more information, visit www.recreation.nanaimo.ca or call 250-756-5200.
Tammy Toor is a graphics and communications specialist with the City of Nanaimo’s parks and rec department.