This post is sponsored by Early Foundations, in conjunction with the Oklahoma Autism Center. All opinions are my own.
You might not know how we got here (I know I don’t), but we are officially halfway through the 2022-2023 school year, mamas! If you’re a stay-at-home or work-from-home mama of littles, though, this January might hit you a bit differently. Without the structure of a “school year”, sometimes one day just melts into the next. Maybe as you reflected on the calendar turning the page to 2023, you felt like you needed to make a change at home.
Maybe you need a little bit of time to yourself – to have an adult conversation or run some errands. Maybe you noticed that your little one would benefit from socialization with other young children. Maybe your toddler is only 18 months old, but you’re already worrying about pre-k readiness (if so – sending my love from one anxious parent to another). Believe me, I have a knack for finding things to worry about when nothing obvious exists. But I digress.
If this sounds like you, let me tell you about a local program I only just heard about after living in OKC for over a decade, though it’s been available for that long and then some. The Oklahoma Autism Center operates an inclusive Mother’s Day Out playgroup called Early Foundations where children with ASD are able to participate in preschool activities and games with their peers. These peers are welcome to the playgroup on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 am – noon at Mayflower Congregational Church on NW 63rd St. in OKC.
The staff is highly-trained, and has a child development specialist, with speech pathologist, and occupational therapist available for consultation. Staff:student ratio is 3:10, which is amazing, and ensures that each child receives ample individualized attention. Each day offers a structured preschool curriculum, with an emphasis on learning through play. Children learn visual cues to understand each day’s schedule, and have the unique opportunity to both learn social skills and interact with other students who may communicate differently.
Spots are available NOW (at the time of publication) for ages 18 months to 4 years, though they do offer some flexibility to accept 15-16 month olds. Much like traditional MDO programs, children are grouped by age, from roughly 18-30 months, 2.5-3.5 years, and 3.5-4 years. Children graduate from the program when they are eligible for pre-K in a public school setting.
If you’re not sure yet, these few things might send you over the edge to call and schedule a tour: first, Early Foundations is extremely affordable. And with 3 kids, I’ve researched a lot of MDOs in my day. Cost does vary by age, though, so please call for pricing.
And second, Early Foundations is a yearlong program. There are, of course, slightly longer (approx. 2 week) breaks over the Christmas holidays, spring break, and summer break. But there are no three-month breaks that interfere with your child’s learning progress.
We know that the precious little ones born in these past few “pandemic years” have not had the opportunity to socialize as much as children born in previous years. We may not have even realized the impact it would have, having spent most of our time worrying about our older ones who were losing academic time as well as socialization time. But early socialization matters. Exposure to new children, new sights, and new sounds builds up neural pathways to facilitate later learning and social skills.
Here’s what alumni parents had to say about Early Foundations:
“My child was so ready for pre-K. He/she knew how to follow classroom routines, share with other children and the Pre-K teacher commented on how much empathy my child showed toward other children.”
“The staff are always so positive and the program really helped my child understand about how to accept differences in others”
My favorite thing about New Years Day is the feeling of a blank slate. New years bring new opportunities – maybe this is the one for your family. To learn more or to schedule a tour, please contact Cayli Aldridge at 405-497-0385 for the NW OKC site.
If you are on the south side of the metro, there is a similar sister program off Indian Hills Road called BridgeKids, which offers a 3-day program. Please contact Julie Morris at 405-307-9611 for specific information about enrollment, or visit their website here.