Parenting and Family Literacy Centre
So much more than just a drop in facility, we'll tell you why you should definitely plan
to head to a centre near you with your littlest kids this school year!
The Parenting and Family Literacy Centre program is for families with children aged 0-6 and is run within public schools in the Hamilton Area. The program however is not limited to just our city, there are 172 locations open across the province. With it being such a large program it is surprising that so parents are unaware of its existence and just 3 short years ago one of those parents was me.
I was introduced to the PFLC by a neighbour of mine who was just raving about the program. At the time I thought between the library, recreation centres, parks, and Early Years Centre I was set. But the PFLC in my neighbourhood was conveniently located at the public school my son would eventually attend, and once he turned 3 I thought I should check this place out if for no other reason than to get him into the habit of going to the school. But after our first visit I can tell you I said the same thing that every other parent I have met there has said. “Why didn’t I come here earlier?”
In my opinion there are a number of things that set this program apart from the other “free” activities we like to do in the area. For one, it helped to develop my son’s social and learning skills and built a routine for him where he learned to follow the daily schedule of activities. In addtition, and most importantly for me and my well being, my time as a stay at home mom was deeply impacted in a positive way through the parent support system and friendships that I formed.
This centre is a drop in program that runs for 4 hours from 8:45am- 12:45pm (some centres may have slightly different times depending on their bell times, etc) every weekday that the school is in operation, no pre-registration is required. The set up resembles a school room setting, there are areas for crafts, painting, puzzles, dramatic play, music, reading, and more. There is a daily schedule of activities (schedule varies at each location) that includes craft time, gym time, snack time and story/sing along time. Through free play time with educational toys and the props for imaginative play my son learned to share and play with others independently. During gym time he learned to take turns with the sports equipment and ride on toys as well as develop his co-ordination. Gym time seems to be a favourite with all the children who attend the program only to be followed by snack time as a close second!
The location that I attended at Westwood Public School is one of the few locations on the Hamilton Mountain so it allowed me to meet parents from all over the city, not just within our own neighbourhood and we became quite the close knit group of parents (some grandparents too). It was like my second family that I not only enjoyed seeing on a regular basis but really needed to see some days too! Being at home with your kids can be an overwhelming, stressful and lonely experience and the ability to have a group of friends available everyday for support is a priceless gift that can’t be compared to anything else. This centre allows you to interact with others on your schedule and without having to worry about our household chores and constant to-do lists. At the PFLC children are so busy with all the activities offered that they don’t need your constant attention and it allows you that much needed one on one adult conversation time.
I distinctly remember one wintery day where morning frustrations with children seemed to be the topic of discussion. We all began to exchange our latest stories and one mom’s took the cake about her frozen car window at the drive thru that was proceeded by a women honking at her for stopping for a school bus. At the end of the round table we all started laughing that it was one of those days that came with the trials and tribulations of parenting. There’s something euphoric that happens when you realize that you aren’t alone in your struggles and that all parents have been in a similar situations.
When Summer came along we were sad to know that we wouldn’t be able to see each other so regularly, but despite that, many of us still keep in touch today and enjoy seeing how much each other’s children have grown. As an added bonus when my son went for his first day of JK he wasn’t nervous at all because he was familiar with the school and had already made friends with a couple of the kids in his class!
The Parenting and Family Literacy Centre is one of my most treasured hidden gems in the city and I would recommend this program to any parent or grandparent to discover their own second family.
The PFLC will open in September and run thru to June when school ends . We both routinely attend and LOVE these programs and have heard nothing about good things are about each and every location! Click here for more information on specific centre locations near you!