Babes in Toyland: Promoting Learning Through Play


Play Group

Bowdoin Street’s youngest generation kicked off 2016 in style, with a lot of new toys!

In partnership with Thrive in 5 and the Family Nurturing Center, Bowdoin launched the first of many playgroups geared toward children ages newborn to 2.5. The groups offer a wide variety of services to engage children and their caregivers in active play, and highlight the importance of regular exposure to sensory-based activities. With an added goal of helping children develop school readiness skills at an early age, the groups are organized in a way which allows for a wide range of both structured and free play. Circle-time songs and infant massage workshops have been favorites!

Dr. Sabina Kumar, Bowdoin’s pediatrician, who worked closely with community partners to make the on-site playgroups a reality, knew that something of this nature would not only be enjoyable for children, but would also be a tremendous source of support for caregivers.

“I wanted to bring an opportunity for healthy development to our youngest patients and their families,” she says. “Often mothers of new infants can feel isolated and are not sure what to expect regarding their child’s development. Hopefully, the playgroups bring young families together to build healthy relationships and healthy children.”

The first class was filled with singing, dancing, reading, and playing. Bowdoin Community Health Worker Melinda St. Pierre, who coordinates the logistics of the groups, along with Sandy Sachs of the Family Nurturing Center, and Huong Vu and Sonia Monteiro from Thrive in 5, is grateful to get to watch these relationship dynamics unfold from week to week. “Parents seem happy to have their children interact in playful activities with other children, and to have the opportunity to engage with each other,” she observes. “The playgroup is a great place to establish new relationships of all kinds.” And certainly, with the budding new relationships of participants, has also come the expansion of an already wonderful partnership with the Family Nurturing Center and Thrive in 5.

In the hopes of building upon the successful launch, playgroups will continue to be offered every two weeks, and will welcome new families who are curious about introducing their children to an environment where they can learn through play.