Each year, Santa Maria’s SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) program holds a six-week group titled “Let’s Talk.” Let’s Talk is a language-building small group for parents and their children. This year, 22 adults and 31 children attended. The group collaborates with University of Cincinnati (UC) Speech Pathology Graduate students and the Cincinnati Public Library.
During the six weeks, parents attend a separate group to discuss various topics such as dialogic reading, preschool milestones, managing problem behavior, and interactive learning. The UC graduate students get together each week with the children to create language-based activities; it is a time for the children to learn, but also to have fun and enjoy socializing with other children. For many of these children, this group is their first time socializing with other children their age, which offers a great introductory to school. Another positive aspect of Let’s Talk is that at the end of each meeting, the children receive books and supplies.
During the sixth and final group meeting, the Cincinnati Public Library offer a story and craft time with the families, and provides them with information and resources about the library. The Library also distributes free backpacks to the children filled with books and art supplies. The items offer a way for children to continue learning after the six weeks are over.
The group has proved beneficial for both children and parents, and many of the families have returned for following years. The graduate students have been successfully leading the groups while using their knowledge to teach the children. 2017 marks Santa Maria’s 7th year offering Let’s Talk and because of it, the parents, as well as children, have formed strong relationships with one another.