Disclosure: The Mandell JCC is an Out and About Mom sponsor. No additional compensation was received for this post and all opinions expressed are 100% my own.
PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2015, and while it should still give you a great overview of the experience, there is also a chance that it may contain some outdated information. Please be sure to contact director Kate Bodmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-652-0396 for the most current information. For the 2016-2017 school year, Fun with Friends will meet on Mondays AND Fridays @ 9:15am. The program is still FREE and open to the community.
Here at Out and About Mom we loooooove free activities. I mean, really, who doesn’t?! We’ve even put together a post highlighting 10 of our favorite FREE activities around the state.
But one of my all-time favorite FREE ways to spend a laid-back morning with my little guy has been at the Fun with Friends playgroup at the Shirley Reaback Early Childhood Center (SRECC) in my town of Glastonbury. Just about every Monday and Friday morning during the school year, SRECC opens its doors to the community (whether you are a Glastonbury resident or not) for a fun, free, drop-in program that offers a casual playgroup for kids ages 6 months to 42 months and their caregivers. UPDATE 1/2017: Currently, Fun With Friends meets on MONDAYS and FRIDAYS at 9:15am.
If this sounds familiar to you, you may have read my previous post on this activity (written almost two years ago). That post actually featured the very first meeting of Fun with Friends! But like all good children’s programs, this one has evolved over time to best fit the needs of the kids and the community. So I thought it was time for an update. (Although most of the logistical information remains the same, so you can refer to my old post for info about the parking and the building, etc.).
For starters, in case you are not familiar with the Shirley Reaback Early Childhood Center (SRECC), it is a satellite of the Greater Hartford Mandell JCC, which is located across the river in West Hartford. SRECC is located within the Kol Haverim synagogue on Hebron Avenue.
SRECC offers programs for children from age 6 months (Fun with Friends) up through 4-year-old preschool (including mommy-and-me toddler classes and a brand new drop-off preschool program for 2-year-olds that proved very successful in its inaugural year). Registration is about to start for the next school year, by the way, so if you’ve been meaning to start looking into 2016-2017 preschool programs for your soon-to-be 3-year-old, now is the time!
When the Fun with Friends group is on the small side, it meets in one of the preschool classrooms. When the group is large, it meets in the Social Hall (as portrayed in my pervious post) so there is more room for active play.
Both options offer plenty for the kids to explore. On our recent visit, the group was hanging out in the classroom. And let me tell you, those little kiddos were busy, busy, busy!
The new Fun with Friends features about 40 minutes of free playtime (directed as necessary by the program leader) with lots of great educational toys, painting, a sensory table and so much more.
A brief storytime at the end brings the group together so the kids can practice their listening skills and start to learn each other’s names (and so can the parents!).
I love the casual environment and the lack of any set structure (which was actually adopted in response to feedback from some of the moms in the group who wanted a place for their children to be able to explore and play together without too much adult direction). It gives the little guy time to engage with all the fun activities on his own and with other kids his age without me having to try to get him to sit still or pay attention to this, that and the other. And the best part is that the parents get to socialize too! So it’s a great way to meet other moms and dads (and grandmas and grandpas and nannies) in the area.
There’s even FREE coffee.
You heard me about the coffee, right?
Did I mention the coffee?
Sometimes it really is the little things that make all the difference 🙂
And since this program runs every week throughout the entire school year, it’s so nice to see the same folks returning week after week and building relationships that can carry on outside that classroom (and I’m talking about both the kids and the grownups!).
So if you’re looking for a relaxed place to hang out on a lazy Friday (or Monday) morning, head over to the Shirley Reaback Early Childhood Center for their FREE Fun with Friends program. I promise it will be fun and I promise you will make some friends. And I promise there will be coffee. Does it really get any better? 🙂
Fun with Friends at the Shirley Reaback Early Childhood Center
1079 Hebron Avenue, Glastonbury, CT
For questions, please contact Kate Bodmer at email@example.com or call 860-652-0396.
Hours & Admission
Meets on Mondays from 9:15 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. For a list of holidays and other days when the class will not meet, please contact Kate Bodmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-652-0396.
No registration required– just drop in! This program is appropriate for children ages 6 months to 42 months and their caregiver.
Please see my original 2014 post for more information.
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