NewsHillsborough County


Early childhood educators encourage developmental activities over holidays

Posted at 9:21 PM, Dec 15, 2022

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — "Calm" and "kids" are probably two words that don't go together in many minds.

But for years, the folks at Steps to Maturity Learning Center have been using a "CALM" approach to teach their kids about problem-solving.

"[We teach the kids to] Calm down and take deep breaths and to relax," said center director Lydia Sams.

Sams says the one-on-one time spent working with kids on this has been life-changing for everyone involved—much to the excitement of early childhood leaders like Marni Fuente, who helped develop this learning model.

"The calm program really focuses on mindfulness and really the social and emotional development of young children," said Fuente.

Fuente is a professor with Hillsborough Community College's (HCC) Early Childhood Department and the Director of Early Childhood & Community Initiatives. She says the pandemic has been a major disruptor of childhood development and the impact has trickled into other areas—like academics and mental health.

So to help, this holiday season, Fuente and HCC are launching an initiative called "The present of your presence."

The goal is to make sure that intentional time spent with parents and caregivers—who can help reinforce a child's early development—isn't lost among the excitement and toys.

"Being present is about playfulness, eye contact, listening, and talking to one another," said Fuente.

To learn more about the calm program and to access resources you can over the holiday break, click here.