Smart Start Central Oklahoma offers its free Early Birds program to support parents and caregivers of children under 5 with toys, books and activities to develop school readiness. More than 4,000 participants benefit from the program each year.
Early Birds promotes healthy parent-child relationships and interactions, provides children with positive early learning experiences and supports parents as their child’s first and most influential teacher.
“The years before age 5 are the most critical for a child’s developing brain,” says Stacy Dykstra, executive director for Smart Start Central Oklahoma. “During a child’s first 5 years of life, the parent is the primary and most important teacher and role model, so it’s important to give them the support and skills they need to serve as confident, effective teachers of their children.”
During each 90-minute class parents learn how to take advantage of teachable moments throughout the day, and a trained instructor discusses developmental milestones, everyday learning, purposeful parenting and family health and wellness.
In support of school readiness, Early Birds enables parents to help their children develop healthy social-emotional skills, and the open atmosphere encourages discussion, sharing of resources and the opportunity to meet other parents.
Parents receive a free bag of educational toys and books to stimulate learning and development at home.
Parents may attend Early Birds beginning with a prenatal class and then three times per year until their child is 5 and ready to enter kindergarten. Classes are offered in Oklahoma County public school districts and at community partner locations in both English and Spanish. A complete schedule can be found at www.smartstartcentraloklahoma.