The Explorers Club Program is a pilot program that was offered by Layla’s House in Sulphur Springs in collaboration with RMC Research Corporation. It is one of the first such programs in Florida.

Diana Sharp, Ph.D., Cognitive Psychologist and Learning Scientist with RMC Research Corporation, explains the concept as follows:   “It is all about learning conversations with your children. Children learn when they explore new activities and they learn the most when they can talk about what fascinates them and talk about it over and over again.”

The Explorers Club Program was guided by the concept, Fascinate Forward: Building Literacy and Learning Competencies through Family Visits to Museums, Zoos, and Libraries. Research has shown that children can develop intense interests in subjects that interest them and rich conversations about these interests with parents and families can help build language and vocabulary skills.

The Explorers Club focused on children from 8 months to age 5 and was offered for an 8 -week period in the summer of 2015. Each day the program began and ended with interactive music and movement. The program provided fun activities for the parent and child to interact and learn and key themes were zoo, community, science and aquarium. All families were able to visit Lowry Park Zoo, Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), the Florida Aquarium, and Glazer’s Children Museum. The community partners provided free tickets and made all the activities very special for the families and kids.

The summer pilot program was co-developed with family participants who helped guide program service and evaluation efforts.  A total of 33 families with 52 children graduated from the program receiving a certificate, a skills superlative and a tablet programmed to extend learning such as with the myOn reader.  Raven Burrell, Parent Educator at Layla’s House, noted that the program was extremely successful and hopefully will be repeated.

Layla’s House gratefully acknowledges the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Lowry Park Zoo, Florida Aquarium, Glazer’s Children Museum and MOSI for their funding and generous support.  The Glazer’s Children Museum hosted and fully sponsored the Graduation Ceremony where the photos are taken.