When the Children’s Learning Center at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) opened more than 35 years ago, its purpose was to empower parents to continue their educations with the peace of mind that their children would be cared for in a nurturing environment. Over the years, it has evolved into a place where 18-month to 12-year-old children learn and grow — and college students gain practical, hands-on experience in the areas of early childhood education, occupational therapy, nursing and psychology.

“As a lab school, we are a modeled center where students can experience the best practices in early childhood education — they come to observe and do field placements,” says Michele Henes, professor of early childhood education and coordinator of the learning center.

Parent engagement is essential, and the Children’s Learning Center helps facilitate this with two innovative apps. One is ReadyRosie, allowing teachers to upload videos and learning tools parents can tap into at home. Another is Tadpoles, which connects parents to the classroom via a platform where teachers can post pictures and notes.

Henes offers parents additional tips for enhancing children’s learning at home.

Read Every Day. Enjoy reading storybooks together with your child daily. But, remember that words are all around us. “Read recipe directions while you are cooking, read labels and signs,” Hennes says. “Knowing how to read is part of our everyday life, and the more vocabulary and language children are exposed to, the better.”

Play a Game. “Anything in your house can be a game — matching socks, sorting noodles, building something out of recyclables,” Henes says. Use your imagination.

Give Them Experiences. You don’t need a lot of money or time to give your child memorable experience that will shape their learning. Tap into free events at libraries and the Metroparks. Simply take a walk — get out. “The more children expand their horizons, the more connections they make and the more prior knowledge they will have so when they learn concepts in school, they will relate back to those experiences,” Henes explains.

1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-4038, lorainccc.edu