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Where parents come together for learning and support

Background and Objectives
Play 'n Share

The Play 'n Share program, begun thirteen years ago, is a parenting discussion group designed to give parents, primarily of young children, the opportunity to meet with other parents and share their experiences.
One of the most difficult aspects of parenting is the isolation which parents often feel. This has become increasingly more prevalent in our mobile society, where parents of young children often live great distances from their families and long-time friends. Additionally, with more women returning to the work place earlier in their children's lives, those women who do choose to stay home do not find the support networks which were commonplace in neighborhoods twenty or thirty years ago. The importance of this isolation should not be minimized as it has been identified to be a chief contributing factor to child abuse
Play and Share photo

In our society, this increasing isolation from sources of support, the questionable values being blared through the mass media, and the breakdown of positive community spirit and involvement all create an increasing need for a place where parents can turn for encouragment of their efforts to raise their children in healthy ways.

Play 'n Share is more than a mom's chat group. It is a program lead by experienced facilitators, trained in child development, listening skills, and parenting skills. These facilitators are guided by the belief that for parents to adequately nurture their children, they need to be nurtured and supported themselves. This early intervention in the form of gentle teaching, encouragement of thoughtful decision-making, connections with healthy role models and other concerned parents is a dynamic way to prevent future difficulties as children grow and to enable parents to cope with the difficulties that inevitably do occur.
The families participating in Play 'n Share programs demonstrate concern for healthy family life, learn to articulate their values, gain an understanding of their children's needs and child development, and develop a sense of connection to the larger community. They become clearer about their responsibilities as parents and about how the emotional climate in their families plays a role in the development of their children. In the field of Parenting Education, it is generally believed that families with these resources are less likely to experience the kinds of wrenching problems which have become so prevalent in our culture today.
Program Description
Play 'n Share is an open discussion group that provides a place for parents and their young children to come together in a safe and nurturing environment. There is no set agenda or presentation of information. Parents share their parenting experiences: the joys, triumphs and celebrations as well as the concerns, stresses, disappointments and frustrations.
Parents are not judged, criticized or shamed, but rather are allowed to explore issues and concerns in a non-threatening setting which encourages openness, a willingness to share, grow, learn and perhaps make some changes in their parenting behaviors, perspectives or expectations. Information about child development, parenting skills, and general principles of healthy family relationships is offered by the Parenting educators as it fits into the topics which the parents raise.
Children play in the same room with their parents during the time the group meets. Having children present has several benefits - it eliminates the need for separation at a time when many children find this extremely difficult, it eliminates the need for baby-sitting, and it provides on-the-spot opportunities to address many of the common issues of a child's behavior, temperament and development.
The standard group targeted for participation in Play 'n Share is parents of young children who are at home or employed part-time. The group meets weekly, in the morning, for 1 ½ hours. This continuity of regular meetings produces a sense of security, provides for learning and practice of skills, as well as the opportunity for parents to make meaningful connections.
Play 'n Share is facilitated by trained, experienced Parenting Educators whose responsibility it is to maintain a safe environment and to be available as spontaneous sources of information on child development and for coping with the normal challenges and stresses of parenting young children. Each Parenting Educator has completed extensive training through Parents' Inc. and is now certified by Lakeside Youth Service's Parenting Resource and Education Network.
Each group is lead by two certified Parenting Educators. Parents benefit from hearing the different perspectives of the two group leaders, and often one facilitator may be attending to the needs of a particular parent while the other is attending to the needs of the group and the group process. This team approach is maintained in recognition of the complexity of parenting and the enormity of the knowledge needed to be an exemplary group leader, and to safeguard that no one opinion is promoted as the only right way to parent.

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The Parenting Center At Abington
1130 Old York Road
Abington, Pa 19001

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