Agency gives tots a spot to play, socialize |

Agency gives tots a spot to play, socialize

Sara Thompson

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

While tots run around and jump into ball pits, parents can supervise their youngsters while visiting one another – all thanks to a new play group.

Tahoe Youth and Family Services offers a free play group for parents and children 5 and younger, from 10 a.m. to noon every Thursday at the Tahoe Tot Spot.

The First 5 California grant funds the play groups time, said Heather Avila, Tahoe Youth and Family Services play group coordinator.

First 5 allocates funds to communities around California to help families with children 5 and younger.

The first play group was on Oct. 2, and Avila wants the word to reach parents so more people can participate in the play group, and also meet other parents in the area. The program ends Dec. 18.

“This helps provide early childhood education, and provides networking for parents,” Avila said.

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Avila said the play group also will have guest speakers for parents to listen to so they can gather more insight and information on raising their kids.

Tahoe Tot Spot owner Amy Thompson said she started the place because she wanted to bring her kids to work. The facility is designed for children 5 years old and younger, which makes for a place for the play group. The play center has a mini gym with 15-foot-long trampoline, ball pit, mini balance beam and other special mats and pads that kids can climb on. Also, there’s a wide open play area with interactive toys, an art and music room for crafts, and a second hand boutique for parents to find treasures for their kids.

Besides catering to the youngsters, Thompson said the center benefits parents, too.

“It turned into a mom club,” Thompson said, “a place where you see and meet friends while the kids play and get socialized.”

Kristi Schumaker, a mom who brought her 3-year-old daughter Jazmyn to the first play group, said they both like coming to the Tahoe Tot Spot, especially since the seasons are changing.

“We both want to be getting out of the house in the wintertime,” Schumaker said. “It’s nice to meet other moms, too.”

Schumaker said she started bringing her daughter to the Tot Spot before the play group started, and even held one of Jazmyn’s birthday parties at the facility.

The Tahoe Tot Spot is at 800 Emerald Bay Road, next to the 7-Eleven. For more information on the play group, call Avila at (530) 541-2445, ext. 103.