Parents interact and bond with children through Early Learning Communities programs


Abigail teetered across the carpet, stopping occasionally to look at parents singing with their child in their laps. The 14-month-old girl seemed intrigued by all the action.

It’s a big step for the toddler, who up until recently wouldn’t leave her mother’s side. The shy girl started to come out of her shell after her mom began taking her to Parents Interacting with Infants and Toddlers (PIWI) at the Auburn Hills Public Library.

“She has grown so much here,” said Nykoya Haynes, Abigail’s mother. “I have seen her playing with different toys, playing with other kids and being more outgoing. I was looking for her to get out and be with other kids. This is right in our area, and it’s free.”


Haynes was among nearly 20 parents who recently brought their child to PIWI, a program provided by Oakland Family Services’ Early Learning Communities. Over the course of six sessions, families get to know each other and build relationships. Each session features a topic, such as developing your child’s friendship skills and helping your child learn how to deal with his or her emotions.

After discussing the day’s topic, children and their parents explore different areas of play: fine motor, gross motor, pretend play, sensory, and literacy. Play stations include alphabet beanbags, water tubes filled with items that make sounds; a sensory table with sand and toys; pretend play with scarves and baby dolls; play tunnel, bead table, and a climbing mat.

The colorful bead table attracted Stephanie Collins’ 4-month-old baby, Logan. Collins said she really enjoys meeting other parents at PIWI and discussing parenting topics with instructors Julie Lemay and Margaret Sclesky.

“We’re thinking Logan is starting to recognize strangers and get scared,” she said. “As a first-time mom, it’s hard to know what is normal. Coming here, it’s good to talk to Margaret and Julie, who have experience with babies.”

PIWI is just one of the parent programs offered by Early Learning Communities. Here are some of the other ELC offerings:

Family’s First Year Conversations

The first year of your baby’s life is so exciting! First smile. First word. First steps. Join us for casual conversations about how you can encourage your child’s growth and development. Bring your infant and learn helpful information that will assist your baby in developing their large and small muscles, learn through their senses and movement, and develop a love for reading.

Play and Learns

Our Children’s Learning Centers in Pontiac and Walled Lake provide fun and interactive ways to engage children. Playgroups are for children under 6 years old.

The Incredible Years: Incredible Babies


Do you have a baby or a child under 12 months? Come to this series of four workshops where you will learn about your baby’s first year of development and skills that will help you as a parent. Topics include getting to know your baby, babies as intelligent learners, babies' emerging sense of self, and getting the support you need as a parent.

Positive Solutions for Families

Positive Solutions for Families is a 6-week workshop series for individuals who interact with children. The workshop will assist participants to promote children’s social emotional skills, understand their challenging behaviors, and use positive approaches to help children learn and grow.

To register for Early Learning Communities parent programs, contact Julie Lemay at (248) 544-4004 ext. 5202 or For dates and locations, see our calendar. Early Learning Communities is funded by United Way for Southeastern Michigan.