Learning Early

Children, families invited to Community Play Groups

EVART — Three-year-old Zoey Juliano giggled as she held up a handful of Play-Doh spaghetti, before squeezing it through her clenched fingers.

Zoey, along with her 16-month-old sister, Harper, joined a handful of other kids on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Mecosta Osceola Great Start Collaborative community playgroup at Crossroads Community Church in Evart.

The playgroup, which is from 9:30 to 11 a.m. every Thursday, is designed for children 0 to 5, as well as their parents who reside within the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, said facilitator Laurie Kohn.

“The main thing for the kids is to socialize before preschool,” Kohn said. “They get to meet other children who they’ll probably know throughout their time in school.”

The collaborative decided this year to move the Osceola County playgroup to Evart, after being in Reed City last year.

“We’re looking forward to a lot of new families stopping by for the group,” Kohn said. “A lot of the kids have older siblings who go off to school each day, and for them, this is their school.”

While Zoey, Rebekah Joyce, 3, and Penelope Quist, 3, were busy with Play-Doh, Theodore Salinas, 4, was busy showing his mother, Darcy, the different toy farm animals.

“I’m glad he wanted to come in today,” Darcy Salinas said. “Last week, it took him a little bit of timeout time before coming in to play. This week, he came right in and started to play.”

The playgroup, which is offered free of charge, also is a good time for the parents to get to know each other, Kohn said.

“I like the playgroup because parents get a chance to meet with other parents,” she said. “They have children the same age and going through school together. The children get to meet other children and build friendships. We’ve seen friendships develop over the years.”

Kohn, who also serves as a home visitor, said the playgroup handles development screening and other support services upon request of parents.

The playgroup will continue each week throughout the rest of the school year. If the districts are closed due to inclement weather, the playgroup is canceled.

For more information about the playgroup, call (231) 592-9065 or visit mogreatstart.org.