Advocates encourage social development activities for kids during holiday break

HILLSBORO COUNTY, FL — The words “calm” and “kids” are two words that probably don’t go together in most people’s heads.

But for years, the folks at Steps to Maturity Learning Center have used a “gentle” approach to teaching kids about problem solving.

“[We teach the kids to] Calm down, take a deep breath and relax,” said center director Lydia Sams.

Sams greatly excited early childhood teachers, such as Marni Fuente, who helped develop this model of learning, and said that the one-on-one time spent working with children on this learning changed the lives of all involved. He says it has changed.

“The gentle program really focuses on mindfulness and the social and emotional development of young children,” said Fuente.

Fuente is Professor of Early Childhood and Director of Early Childhood and Community Initiatives at Hillsboro Community College (HCC). She said the pandemic has severely disrupted children’s development, with impacts in other areas such as academics and mental health.

So this holiday season, Fuente and HCC are launching an initiative called ‘The present of your presents’.

The goal is to ensure that intentional time spent with parents and caregivers that helps enhance a child’s early development is not lost in excitement and toys.

“To be present is to be playful, to make eye contact, to listen and to talk to each other,” said Fuente.

Click here for more information on the Serenity program and access to resources available during your vacation.

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