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Each spring semester, the Curry College education department collaborates with the Milton Early Childhood Alliance (MECA) to lead an early literacy playgroup for preschool-age children (2-4).
Curry education majors, under the direction of Curry education professor Dr. Dotty Alexander, are invited to participate in the six-week program specifically designed to encourage language and literacy development through play.
Activities include circle time, songs and music, early literacy, fine and gross motor activities, social developmental opportunities and free play.
Parents are also encouraged to participate in the playgroups, and they receive information each week about how the learning experiences in each playgroup session enhance the early language and literacy skills of their child.
"This experience benefits everyone involved," said Kimberly Atlas, a Child Youth & Community Education major and Psychology minor. "I found that I personally benefited in ways that I wouldn't have in a classroom lecture. I also observed noticeable growth in the children; and the parents gain new strategies with which to work on early literacy skills with their children."
The partnership with MECA affords high achieving Curry students in the education major the opportunity to become involved in field-based experiences as early as in their first year of study.
"We are fortunate to have established strong relationships with community partners such as the Milton Early Childhood Alliance," says Professor Alexander. "Students don't have to wait until their junior year to get out in the field to work with children as is the case at other colleges/programs. It also provides our students the opportunity to work alongside faculty in a real-world setting."
Susan Dolan, Director of Milton's Coordinated Family and Community Engagement Program through MECA, echoes those sentiments.
"The Milton Early Childhood Alliance has been thrilled to have Curry College, Professor Alexander, and the College's education students facilitate our Learning Through Play toddler and preschool playgroups each year. The multi-generational approach of bringing young children, college students, parents, and grandparents together to learn during play has been invaluable to Milton. We are truly grateful for this collaborative experience."
The Milton Early Childhood Alliance is funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.