This program has given support, education, community and fun to my family for the last six years! The teachers have guided us through each child’s developmental stage with resources that helped us communicate and understand our children’s needs in such practical and loving ways. -Danielle
On our class pages (infants, toddlers, preschool, and arts & science), you’ll find all the information about the “what, when, where, and how” of your classes… this page is all about the WHY. Why our classes are truly special! (If you prefer videos to text, you can find an overview of the program at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBXVhdS-N4A.)
Our program has been serving families on the Eastside since the 1950’s. Our motto is “parents and children – learning and growing together.” And this is what makes us unique – the way that we serve the whole family – providing high quality education for children, plus education and support for their caregivers.
Why our program is great for children:
Play-based: Our programs are hands-on and experiential. At in-person classes, teachers plan a variety of developmentally stimulating activities. Children can rotate from one activity to the next at their own pace, moving on to the next brain-building adventure when they decide they are ready. Teachers monitor their learning, and offer questions or suggestions that extend the learning, providing scaffolding to help the child step up to the next level of understanding. For our online classes, teachers share ideas for hands-on learning activities that are easy for parents to do at home and also help guide the parents in how to support their child’s learning at home.
Novelty and Repetition: Brain development research tells us children learn best with a combination of novelty (new experiences) and repetition (the opportunity to try something again and again until they master it). Our teachers incorporate a wide variety of toys, activities, and challenges to encourage children to discover new things, while maintaining comforting routines and core developmental activities from week to week.
Long-Term Relationships: Lots of other programs run in short sessions of four to six classes. Sometimes the same kids will repeat from session to session, but often it’s a new group of children each time. It’s hard for little ones to keep track of all those new faces. Our programs run for the full school year. Seeing the same children week after week allows kids to build friendships. Seeing the same adults week after week allows them to build relationships with the adults, and helps the teachers to have a deep understanding of your unique child and your family. Families can continue in our programs from birth to age 9, which offers unbeatable continuity of learning and support for families.
Close parental involvement: Parents are always welcome in the classroom. This gives each child the comfort and security of knowing their caregiver can be there with them. It also gives children exposure to a wide range of caring adults in a safe environment, allowing them to develop skills at interacting with other adults. As a side benefit, we know children learn language skills more quickly when exposed to a variety of adult speakers.
Diverse Experiences in One Familiar Setting: Most children’s programs focus on one domain of learning: whether that’s dance class, art lessons, story time, music lessons, tumbling class, or science workshops. Our programs do it all. And they offer it all in one familiar environment full of familiar faces where the child feels comfortable and cared for. Some examples of what you might see, depending on the age of your child:
- Art exploration: play-dough to roll, easels for painting, markers for learning to write, rubber stamps
- Craft projects: in the older classes, there may be a weekly project tied into the theme
- Sensory activities: tubs of water, or rice, or sand, or beans to scoop, pour, stir, and run fingers through
- Large motor: mats for tumbling, tunnels to crawl through, climbers and slides, balls to throw, ride-upon scooters to move around on
- Small motor: blocks to stack, puzzles to assemble, shape sorters to solve, beads to thread
- Imaginary play: dress up area for trying on new roles, dolls to care for, kitchen for “cooking”
- Science experiences: seeds to plant, tadpoles to watch, items from nature to explore
- Snack time: a place to practice social skills and table manners and to discover new foods
Most classes also include “circle time” where the teacher leads the class in singing songs, dancing, playing musical instruments, and reading stories. This is a chance for children to practice sitting still, listening to a teacher and focusing attention, and participating in a group activity, all essential skills for kindergarten readiness. Age-appropriate academic skill-building (pre-literacy to reading and writing, pre-math skills) is integrated into all types of activities.
Why our program is great for parents:
Parent Education: Experienced professional educators offer information that is current and research-based but also relevant to the day-to-day reality of parenting little ones. Topics are tailored to the age and needs of the families, but may include daily routines like sleep and mealtime, discipline, child development, enhancing early learning, potty training, emotional intelligence, and self-care for parents.
Individualized Advice: Parent educators and children’s teachers have the opportunity to get to know each child as an individual, and also get to know the parents. This allows them to answer questions in a highly personalized way. Our educators are in a unique position to screen for and consult about possible developmental delays or physical impairments, and can provide referrals to early testing and early interventions when needed.
Parent Involvement: Participating in your child’s classroom encourages you to view yourself as an active participant in your child’s learning and as an advocate for them in future classrooms. You’ll know the other children and can help your child connect. You’ll know what happened in class, so you can later reinforce the learning. Seeing classroom activities gives you new ideas to try at home. Observing other children each week gives you a deeper understanding of child development, and seeing parents respond to their children shows you options for parenting style.
Peer Support and Long-Term Relationships: Parents meet with other parents over the course of many months, which allows for long-term connections. Working together in the classroom strengthens those bonds, as does the peer support gained when moms, dads, and other caregivers share the joys and challenges of caring for kids. Instructors also encourage students to get together outside of class to build friendships and community. Many families will enroll in our programs year after year with friends they have made in the infant class.
The program grows with your child: We offer classes for families with children from birth through age 9, so instead of having to search for new classes every month or every year, we’re the one-stop shop where you can always find a fun and educational option for you and your child.
Student privileges: Our parent education programs are college classes. Enrolled parents receive college credit, and can receive student ID cards, which give access to services such as Center for Career Connections, campus computer labs, campus library, and the Counseling Center, and may give access to student discounts at stores and community events. For more information, see our FAQ.
High quality at a low cost. We have better adult-child ratios than most other programs, with very experienced teachers, all at a per-hour cost that is less than most other programs in the community. This low cost helps to make our programs available to a wide range of families, and we also offer scholarships to further increase accessibility.
Watch this video to hear what former students say about the benefits of our program.
We did a quick survey of 9 of our parent educators. Here’s a sampling of the experience and expertise our team brings to our classes.
All 9 have Bachelor’s degrees: 4 in education, the others in English, Sociology, Biology, Nursing, and Speech Communication. Several have additional education: 1 MEd in Curriculum and Instruction, 1 MA in teaching, 1 MSW, and a PhD in special education, plus additional graduate level coursework.
118 total years of teaching for the parent education program (ranging from 2 years to 29 years with our program – the average duration is 12 years)
Additional professional experience:
Our instructors have also taught childbirth education, taught teachers and early childhood educators, supervised student teachers, led parent support groups, had private practices providing parent coaching, taught preschool, taught elementary school, taught special education, done corporate trainings, worked as a pediatric nurse, and a doula.
Parenting Experience and Parent Education Participation:
Amongst those 9 educators, we have 24 children (2 to 4 per family), currently ranging in age from 7 to 37. Plus one grandchild.
Each one of the instructors participated in a parent education program as a student when their children were young, with a range from 1 to 14 years of participation – the average was 6 years as a parent in the program.
Our faculty includes individuals with the following identities: Chinese born American, African-American, member of the Northern Arapaho tribe, single parent, physically disabled, and living with an invisible disability.
Among our children, we have experience parenting children who are Asian-American, multi-racial, gifted, autistic, transgender, lesbian and gay. Plus children with ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, speech delays, learning disabilities, and life-threatening food allergies.
As a department, we work very closely with each other, and consult with each other to gain a deeper understanding of all of these identities and others and their impact on families in order to make our programs as inclusive as possible.
Come join us!
Learn more about our classes on this website, or by coming to an open house or for a class visit. We would love to welcome your family into our community!
Last Updated November 8, 2021