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RCCC has newest location for free Smart Start Rowan playgroup

By Susan Shinn Turner

For the Salisbury Post

Everyone has a bad day once in a while — and that’s OK. Feelings were the topic of Smart Start Rowan’s playgroup on a recent Wednesday morning at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

The free playgroups take place from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at three locations: Tuesdays at LifeChurch; Wednesdays at RCCC; and Thursdays at Christ United Methodist Church. Mostly English-speaking families attend the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions, and mostly Spanish-speaking families attend the Thursday sessions, according to Smart Start Rowan’s family support staff.

The RCCC location is new.

“We were looking to expand,” said Shurna Rabsatt, Smart Start Rowan’s family support program lead. “We contacted them and they granted us this beautiful space.”

“Smart Start Rowan has been able to re-start its beloved playgroup activity after a five-year hiatus,” said Laura Villegas, director of programs at Smart Start Rowan. “We discovered the Kaleidoscope Play and Learn model and began the playgroups again last year, with 54 parents/caregivers attending at two locations in Rowan County. Due to popularity, we expanded to this third location this year and are thrilled to offer such a great program that helps young children develop social skills that are needed as they learn and grow.”

The first arrivals were Anne Sedera and her daughter, Lillian, 4.

“Apparently, she is ready to play,” Sedera said, as Lillian went right over to the playroom.

The two have been coming to playgroup since September.

“I like this space because it feels so open,” Sedera said. Lillian has speech delays and gets overwhelmed easily, her mom noted. “She’s benefited from it a lot.”

The play area is located on the second floor of the 600 building in one of the early childhood development classrooms.

Before long, the sound of more little feet could be heard running down the hall as Riley Reynolds, 1, arrived with his mom, Maria, and Lincoln Beaver, 1½, came in with his mom, Misty.

Beaver and her son have been coming to playgroup since August, and found out about it through a Facebook post.

“We love it,” Beaver said. “It’s so family oriented. Maria and I met through playgroup. It’s been a great resource. Maria and I would not have met if not for playgroup.”

“We love coming,” Reynolds said. “I’m a stay-at-home mom this year. This has been a nice way to get out, play with him, and meet other people. It helps me determine what’s normal, age-appropriate behavior for my son. She has a lot of good advice and good knowledge.”

After a good amount of play time for the children, everyone gathered for circle time with songs and activities. It is also a time of learning for parents and caregivers.

The moms were asked, “What feelings do you see in your children?”

The moms answered with happiness and sadness, but the general consensus was also anger. Being able to talk about feelings with children, respond appropriately, and help them learn words to share their feelings is crucial, according to Smart Start Rowan staff.

For example, when a young child is scared, he or she mostly wants to be held, the moms agreed.

If you’d like to attend the playgroups, please call Smart Start Rowan at 704-630-9085.

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