Signing children up for activities like sports, lessons, classes, camps and after-school programs can be stressful, especially when it’s your first time. So, MiniBury is connecting you to the experts; parents, teachers and coaches who’ve been in the trenches before and want to tell you what it’s really like!
If you’re in the market for moving, grooving, and making music, here is an exciting and FREE activity that’s baby, toddler and preschooler friendly. May Poduschnick, mother of four kiddos, co-runs the Helen Porter Playgroup: a music centered inter-generational playgroup for children age birth to 5+ at Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Middlebury. Think that sounds fun, here’s what you need to know!
What is this all about? A playgroup at the nursing home? Yes, this playgroup is very intentionally planned at the rehabilitation and healthcare center. About 3 years back, my friend Faith Gong and I approached the activities coordinator at Helen Porter about starting a combined playgroup for the residents and for our children. She said they had attempted such but it was more sporadic and few people knew about it. Since the residents are already there, our challenge is to bring the kids in and get the play going.
What happens during this playgroup? We start with a time of just open play, balloons, trains, coloring, catching up with one another and at 10:30am we officially begin our time with music. Music is a great medium to bring everyone of all ages and abilities together. We sing together, we dance, we move to the music, we shake with rhythm eggs, we twirl scarves, we have fun. When the music portion is done, people are free to go or hang around longer and play.
What do the residents do during the playgroup? Some just come to watch the children. Some sing, shake, dance along with us. It is my hope and goal to have them all participate wholly in our activities, getting them to move and groove as much as the children do, wheelchairs and all.
Why do you think it is important? It is more than just a playgroup where you go to have your child go to burn off extra energy and chit chat with other parents. It is about building relationships with the residents and giving them something to look forward to. It is about teaching our children that growing old doesn’t mean you don’t have fun and act silly. It offers us all the opportunity to be engaged with people that often we don’t see regularly in our lives. And more often than not, I go home feeling good, simply by being there and seeing the smiles on people’s faces.
Where do I go once I reach the building? Enter the main double doors, Left down the hallway and it is the first door on your left. The reception area is always staffed and happy to help direct you to the community room.
How comfortable and kid friendly is the room? I have a baby and a toddler who likes to roam, should I come or will I be worried that my toddler is going to destroy the place? The room is not baby proof but there are many extra hands willing to help keep an eye out on baby or toddler. Need extra hands to hold babies? Many experienced grandparents there willing to lend some arms. We hope to keep the kiddos engaged enough so they do not destroy the place.
Do I (the parent) have to sing and dance? YES! You are the model for the children. When you participate with our activities, your child(ren) will notice as do the other children. Many times, the children do not sing or follow the moves with our instruments, but they are watching you and will model your actions (so beware what you do). Above all, it is not a performance for anyone, it about having fun, getting some movement, and enjoying the time.
How many people generally attend (my child gets very reserved around crowds)? It is difficult to say who will show up each week, we have been averaging about 10-15 children plus their guardians, 10-15 residents, so that does fill the room. My suggestion is to come early, even before 10:15, so that your child has time to settle in before everyone arrives and get used to the space. Then as people come, s/he will be settled already and will not feel overwhelmed coming into a room full of people and noise.
Should we bring anything? What should we not bring? Basically all you need to bring is yourself, your child(ren) and a willingness to participate with us. We do not provide snack so if you child(ren) will be hungry, have a snack before or after our music time. You can bring toys that can be shared but if sharing is an issue, better to leave it at home.
When does the group meet? Every Monday from 10:15-11:30. We don’t meet when school is closed due to vacations or weather closures.
Sounds amazing. Sign us up! Actually, it’s a drop in class, so we’ll just see you next week.
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