Every Wednesday morning, the basement of the Memorial Baptist Church in Middlebury bustles to life with the sound of young children playing and parents commiserating. The big, brightly lit basement is full of fun stuff to do: arts and crafts, texture boxes, tunnels to explore, a small slide, and a toy room with fun kitchen toys and a lovely train set. Parents and children migrate around from station to station to play and enjoy a low-key and supportive atmosphere created by the hosts Anna and Linda. Children play for about an hour and then everyone cleans up as a group and a small snack is shared by all the children. Snack time is story time at the PCC playgroup, as one of the hosts shares a book with the children as they chow down.
As for the more serious matters, there’s a changing table available in the back room, a palatial bathroom, and good humor abounds as the children laugh and play together. There’s also coffee and tea for you ever-tired parents of toddlers. Parking is on the street and there are a few spots available in the lot behind the church accessible off of Court St.
This playgroup is hosted by Anna Smith and Linda Bouffard of the Addison County Parent Child Center. The Parent Child Center’s mission is to provide support and education to families and ensure that the children of our community get off to the right start to grow up healthy, happy, and productive.
MiniBury got a few minutes with Anna to answer some questions about the playgroup and her perspective of this ongoing free activity.
MB: What’s your favorite part of this playgroup?
AS: It’s hard to say just one thing I like best. My favorite parts of the play group are the opportunities it affords parents to engage with one another, creating networks and friendships that stretch far beyond playgroup. I also love the freedom it brings to both parents and children – to be in a new space, to run around, make a mess, try new things. And the kids, of course! Seeing them grow and change. Watching the shy ones become brave, explore, take risks.
MB: What’s it like to be a child at this playgroup? A parent?
AS: I think it’s warm, supportive, and safe. We become fast friends here. Children know each other from week to week, and so do their parents. there are always familiar repetitive options for play, and some new things to try. We play, we have snack, we sing, we clean. It’s wonderful.
MB: What’s a good thing to know about before someone attends this event?
AS: Newcomers are always joining, there are always new faces. It’s a great opportunity for parents to spend time with their children, try new things. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but by the end of the day you’ll understand why so many of our families come week after week.
MB: What’s the best spot for little kids in town that no one knows about?
AS: The Battell Woods at the very end of Monroe Street! You can park there, and there are paths, and a little stream. It’s part of the TAM network, and it’s a wonderful way to stay close to town but still get to explore nature.
MB: What do you enjoy about working with young children?
AS: We love working with small children, especially the same small children week after week, because it allows for us to observe change, and provide support in moments of hard development! It’s a thrill to see children learning and implementing new skills, and doing it through play with their peers.
Addison County Parent Child Center
Memorial Baptist Church
97 South Pleasant Street
- Follows ACSD calendar, including snow days
Free, WIC approved activity
Hosts: Anna Smith, Linda Bouffard