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It’s Kindergym and It’s Grrreat!


It’s Kindergym and It’s Grrreat!

Something wonderful happens for our youngest community members four mornings a week out in west Sonoma County. Monday and Tuesday morning finds the Guerneville Vets Hall filled with the zero to six year old crowd and their caregivers. Wednesday and Thursday the preschoolers and their folks are at the Forestville United Methodist Church. The locations are different but the unique learning opportunities are the same. It’s kindergym, and it’s GRRREAT!

There are very few recreation programs in the Russian River area for children, especially those under 6 years old. In agency surveys with parents and child care providers, isolation and inaccessibility of recreational programs were among the top concerns of families here in the West County community. In response to this gap, as a component of services to parents and family child care providers, River to Coast Children’s Services (RCCS) has operated a kindergym program since 1984 (32 years). 

The program is designed for children 0 to 6 years old and offers interactive learning through play, focusing on gross motor skill development. All caregivers are invited to bring their children to attend this free program. The Guerneville kindergym has become a generational experience. Parents who brought their own children are bringing their grandkids, parents who attended as children are bringing their own kids. Over 240 children attend each year!

Families who live in the isolated areas of West County rarely have the opportunity to interact with other families. Because of this isolation, many new parents do not have access to parenting classes or current information on child development. The staff member for Kindergym can assure them of their child’s development, make referrals for special needs and deliver handouts and current information. 

Kindergym is the ideal environment to offer parent and provider educational materials.  A variety of handouts for caregivers on topics ranging from dental hygiene to handling stress are always available. They can also borrow children’s books from the Kindergym library for reading at home . Early literacy skills and activities are a big part of the curriculum. There is a mobile library which allows parents to borrow books. There are free, age appropriate books available in both English and Spanish for the children to take home, which is partially funded by a Sonoma County iRead grant, as well as a Growing Readers program, both of which encourage literacy. Caregivers have the opportunity to learn about early brain development, physical coordination, discipline, behaviors, etc. in a fun, interactive environment that they enjoy. Additionally, those children who speak only Spanish can begin learning English by playing with other children. Trained, professional,  staff model activities that parents and providers can do at home such as making play dough, water play, and arts and crafts 

Kindergym sessions are held Monday and Tuesdays at the Guerneville Vets Hall and Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Forestville United Methodist Church, times are 9:45 AM to 12:15 PM at both locations. Parents can stay the entire session or just part of one. Caregivers participate in the activities and are teachers too, not just observers. Oh, and did we mention that this great resource is FREE?

In August 2016 RCCS turns 40! That’s forty years of providing much needed resources, referrals and support to the children (and their families) in west Sonoma County. Please celebrate with us. We are having a PARTY on August 20th from 1 to 4 PM at the Forestville Youth Park, 7045 Mirabel Road, Forestville. Join us for fun, food, games, magic, music, goodies, prizes, and 40 years of remembrances. And it’s all FREE!