Pasitos, is an educational play group program that was created by Community Action staff in 2006 to fill a gap for Spanish-speaking parents and their 3 and 4 year olds who are not attending preschool. The goal of the program is to help prepare children to be successful in school and to provide parents with tools that will maximize their impact as their child’s first and most important teacher. Parents are encouraged to form a social support network and understand the importance of their ongoing role as primary advocates throughout their child’s education. Pasitos participants attend 1.5 hour play group meetings weekly. The program has grown from one group in Roseland to 22 groups from Petaluma to Cloverdale and Sebastopol to Sonoma Valley, serving about 350 families 2014-15.
Parents and children meet weekly to share activities that build language, early literacy, fine motor skills, and social ability. Toys, puzzles, manipulatives, and books are carefully chosen for appeal and developmental appropriateness. At circle time, children and parents listen to a special story and sing songs in Spanish and English. They do an activity related to the week’s theme and designed to encourage children to practice new skills to demonstrate school readiness activities that parents can do in the home.
During the meetings, parents participate in lessons on topics including: their role as first teacher, child development, health and nutrition, positive discipline, language and brain development, community resources, and the importance of ongoing parent involvement in their children’s education.
Another component of Pasitos is the weekly distribution of book bags. Each bag contains 3-4 age appropriate books in English and Spanish. Parents learn the importance of reading for future school success and are encouraged to read to their child every day. Families also receive “homework” with a checklist of four or five short activities related to that week’s theme. Children receive developmental screenings and referrals for needed services. At the end of the program year, families plan a culminating event to showcase their efforts.
- Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County
- Petaluma Adult School