Article submitted by Coleen Pizzuti, United Way of Central Florida Family Fundamentals Program Manager
One year ago this month, Family Fundamentals staff patiently awaited the arrival of the final moving trucks for the last of the items from the storage units. We officially moved into Explorations V Children’s Museum in March, but there were renovations over the next four months before we would be open officially for all our partners.
When we first found out that we were moving, not going to lie, there was some trepidation. There were lots of unknowns and change can be scary sometimes. The move itself was monumental and working within a construction site is never fun, but the result was well worth it. Those of you who have ever done home remodeling can understand.
Throughout the construction on our floor, classes at Family Fundamentals continued in our shared spaces with the museum. Construction finished just in time for Camp Ready. This is one of the many programs that our partners offered this past year to our families and the community. Family Fundamentals has been the host for monthly autism support groups, a financial stability program, an internet safety class, group and family counseling, group feeding therapy, physical therapy, child developmental screenings, parent education classes, parent mediation, co-parenting classes, youth training for independent living, tax preparation and CPR training for medical foster care families.
Having Family Fundamentals located within Explorations V has been a natural fit. Our classes teach learning through play. If you walk into our classroom and see a child playing with blocks, you might think nice tower. We see them learning about balance, geometry, and gravity. Playing with blocks help children develop their vocabulary and improve their math skills. They learn how to describe colors, shapes, sizes and positions as they build their various structures. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development, and it is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Once our class is over, our families are invited to explore the museum, where play and learning continues.
Like most programs, our in-person classes were suspended in March due to the pandemic. We were still able to offer learning opportunities for our families through a virtual platform. Each day on Family Fundamentals Facebook page a virtual lesson is posted that was created by our Master Teacher, Amber Duncan, modeling appropriate interactions with her four-year-old daughter, Cynthia. Included within the post are extension activities for the lesson.
We aren’t getting too comfortable though because we know another move is on the horizon. We will be moving along with Explorations V to Bonnet Springs Park, a breathtaking 180-acre park at the corner of Kathleen and George Jenkins Blvd in downtown Lakeland.