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I have been taking my three-year old to an organized play-time group. He and about 10 other kids engage in activities as finger painting, slime making, and block stacking. The group is led by an adult coordinator. The session lasts about a half hour, then the kids are turned loose into a well stocked playroom. I usually stay until my son tires of the playroom.
The coordinators are amazing. They are constantly instilling civil values into these children. My best example is the wiggle cars, which are very popular with the kids. There are only two cars; there are eight or more kids. The kids have to learn how to share and be fair. The coordinators work wisely and calmly to get the kids to get the most of their limited number of wiggle cars. I think the low number of cars is deliberate to put the kids in this position.
There is no charge for these sessions. I'm not sure where the funding comes from, but if one discounts the cost of the facility (which is the old hospital converted into usage of a myriad of social programs), the cost of this program is really not that expensive.
I live in a community of about 25,000 people. The same 20 kids are attending these sessions, but maybe just 10 at a time. This program doesn't directly reach the broad community, hence there is the argument that program has little value--even if the costs are low.
In my short time with the program, I already see a change in my son in how he interacts with other kids. I can see he is going to a "social" leader with the lessons learned here. When he and the other kids reach kindergarten or Grade 1, they are going to be the peer example of how to behave in a classroom. This will help the teacher with her classroom management AND even the kids that didn't go to the play-time group will get the benefit of this training. A better run classroom means a better education.