News and Tribune

April 20, 2013

SCHOOLING THEM ALL: Parents and children learn at Preschool Fair

By JEROD CLAPP
jerod.clapp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — After getting a temporary tattoo, grabbing a free book and having Spider Man painted on his face, Ezrah Blessinger-Conner still hadn’t done everything he could have at the fair.

Ezrah, a 3-year-old and his mom, Havilah Blessinger, were at the Children’s Academy Early Learning Center Preschool fair on Friday. Community organizations and programs gave parents information about their services while helping preschoolers stay entertained.

Rachael Henshaw, an early intervention intake coordinator at the school, organized the fair this year. She said parents with children who were 5 or younger were invited to see what was available to them in the area.

She said lots of parents don’t know what’s available to them to help prepare their children for preschool or kindergarten, so she hoped to bring them to one place.

But she also said there were a lot of parents of children with a need for educational services in the community. She said according to the New Albany Housing Authority, about 430 children in their facilities don’t use all the community resources they need.

“I really just wanted community resources to help children,” Henshaw said. “We really wanted to reach out and get those children so they could get the services they need.”

Geradine Schultze, building supervisor, said the event wasn’t just about the parents. She said keeping children entertained while mom and dad learned about programs was also important.

“A lot of the vendors have kid-friendly, interactive activities,” Schultze said. “We have quite a few new participants this year.”

One of the new participants was the Department of Natural Resources at Hardy Lake. Leslie Grow, a naturalist at Hardy Lake, brought animal pelts and other things for children to touch and examine.

“Kids nowadays suffer form what we call nature deficit disorder,” Grow said. “They don’t get outside as much as we’d like, so that’s our mission, to get them up and out to play.”

But parents were able to get information on other typical concerns, such as speech development, while children made arts and crafts.

Blessinger said she thought it was nice to see local universities involved with the fair.

“I’m an Ivy Tech alumna, and I didn’t think they’d do so much to get some interest for their early childhood development program,” Blessinger said.

Henshaw said she was glad so many parents came out to learn a little and let their kids have some fun at the same time.

“I think this is the largest turnout we’ve had for a long time, so I’m really excited,” Henshaw said.