Media contact: CeCe Todd, (480) 461-4032
With holiday shopping coming up soon, the Early Childhood Education program at the East Valley Institute of Technology wants to help parents of young children select toys that will stimulate development and learning.
So from 6-7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 3, EVIT will host “Smart Santa Workshop” in partnership with Bridges Preschool. Parents who attend will learn about different types of toys and receive a registry that lists the best toys for each age group from birth to kindergarten age.
“You can spend $20 and get a toy that’s OK. Or, do you want more? It’s like the difference between nutrition or food that isn’t nutritious,” said EVIT instructor Lisa Bradford. “If you’re going to buy something, know what you’re buying. Don’t assume it’s going to have an educational value. Be a smart Santa.”
The workshop will be held at the Early Childhood Education building on EVIT’s Dr. A. Keith Crandall (Main) Campus, 1601 W. Main St., Mesa. Admission is $5; for an additional $10, Bridges, which operates a preschool in the same building, will provide child care for the evening while parents participate in the workshop.
Space is limited, so parents are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible by calling Bridges team leader Kristine Retuta at (480) 461-6746. Participants will also be registered in a drawing for a $50 gift card.
Proceeds from the “Smart Santa Workshop” will go to two “Angel Tree” programs the Early Childhood Education Program and Bridges are sponsoring over the holidays to purchase gifts for disadvantaged children.
Bradford will be assisted by one of her students in conducting the workshop. The information that will be presented about development and learning is a standard part of the Early Childhood Education program, which trains students for careers in child care, education and health care.
A child’s earliest years are so important because 90 percent of the brain is developed by age 5. Toys that require their active involvement help create “pathways that become super-highways in the brain where all other learning occurs,” Bradford said.
That’s why paper and markers or Legos make a better present for a young child than a coloring book or Transformers, Bradford said. They encourage creativity.
And children’s books always make a good holiday gift, she said, because they are essential to developing a child’s language and literacy skills.
During the “Smart Santa Workshop,” Bradford will have parents identify their favorite toys from childhood as part of a discussion about what makes a good toy. They will also go over a list of toys Bridges Preschool has identified at Target that would be educational for young children.
The “Smart Santa Workshop” is the first in a series of community education programs EVIT is developing to give the public access to the expertise of EVIT staff and students.
The Early Childhood Education program is a two-year program that focuses on early childhood development, careers, health, nutrition and special education in the first year. Students also gain practical classroom experience working with infants, toddlers and young children at Bridges Preschool. In their second year, they select an internship and research professional opportunities. Qualified students can earn their Child Development Associate Credential, a national certification.
Bradford’s students also have the opportunity to earn college credit through dual enrollment with Mesa Community College.
Early Childhood Education is one of nearly 40 occupational training programs at EVIT offered tuition-free to high school students who reside in 10 districts – Mesa, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Tempe, Apache Junction, Chandler, Gilbert, Higley, Queen Creek and J.O. Combs. Tuition-based programs for adults are also offered, with financial aid available to those who qualify.
EVIT students have a 95 percent graduation rate and two out of three go on to college. EVIT is accredited by AdvancED/NCA. For more information, visit www.evit.com or call (480) 461-4000.