The Glazer Children’s Museum is going outward into the community with its Learn & Play Tampa Bay to boost kindergarten readiness by fostering their littlest learners’ curiosity to learn, grow and thrive through play, empowering parents to be confident and knowledgeable teachers and building a network of mutual support among the families they serve.
“The museum started a new initiative this year to increase its impact within the community of Tampa Bay as an educational resource with its after-school programs and field trips for Title 1 schools,” said Learn & Play Tampa Bay’s Director, Sara Arias-Steele. “With Learn & Play Tampa Bay, the museum wanted to go further in extending its influence as an educational institution to tackle the issue of kindergarten readiness within Tampa Bay. With 50 percent of children entering school not ready in 2018, the museum felt a social responsibility to aid in the efforts by other institutions, such as the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.”
The program is in essence a mobile museum, taking the creativity and playfulness at which the Glazer Children’s Museum excels and embedding it within their lessons and learning stations.
“Twice a week for 90 minutes, our van drives into select communities throughout Hillsborough County and sets up at a community center, church or local library,” Arias-Steele said. “The room is divided into learning stations consisting of tents, tunnels, books, train stations, balance beams, arts and crafts and puppet theaters. These stations encourage little learners to engage in art, early writing, numeracy, STEM, gross motor and imaginative play, all the skills needed before entering Kindergarten.”
Caregivers and their little ones play side by side with other families, engaging in cooperative play and joining together in group circle time to sing songs, listen to bilingual stories and practice following routines just like they would at school.
The program is completely free thanks to generous funding by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. “All families are asked to please pre-register before attending one of the site locations,” Arias-Steele said. “Our current locations are in East Tampa (Cyrus Green Community Center) and Seffner-Mango Library branch.”