Programs at GiGi’s Playhouse Des Moines offer foundational learning opportunities for individuals of all ages with Down syndrome, their families and the community.
Goals for each GiGi’s Playhouse Program:
- Create opportunities for parent networking and support to face the diagnosis
- Instill high expectations for the child to follow program routines and to fully participate in planned activities
- Offer programming tailored for individuals with Down syndrome, to include structured routines, purposeful activity planning and an (engaging/fun/creative) environment for learning
- Provide specific, therapeutic or educational learning opportunities to support development of speech-language, social, and motor skills
GiGi’s Playhouse programs are a place for parents to share ideas and network with one another. We invite parents to communicate their needs, questions and concerns with one another, and promote connections to be made in support of each parent. GiGi’s programs embrace the family and help aid the development of a healthy, successful relationship between parents, individual with Down syndrome and siblings.
GiGi’s Playhouse programs support families in developing high expectations for their son or daughter with Down syndrome. Many families are blindsided by a diagnosis of Down syndrome in pregnancy or at birth, and GiGi’s programs aim to help parents overcome the diagnosis and maintain high expectations for their child to achieve success in social, educational and employment opportunities in the future. Our staff and volunteers support parents in maintaining high expectations, even through challenging periods of time. By encouraging their child to follow routines and participate fully, parents take a big step in recognizing their child’s potential.
Research shows that individuals with Down syndrome tend to be “visual learners” and benefit from kinesthetic (movement) and auditory input (music, song) when learning. Utilizing a multi-sensory approach sets the individual up for the highest level of success. GiGi’s Playhouse programs offer a consistent program structure and routine, which lends to recognition and comprehension of program activities. For example, by ending the program with the same song each week, participants learn to anticipate the closure of the program and this helps increase cooperation through this transition. When children and families come to GiGi’s, they quickly learn the routine and expectations when taught from the beginning. Don’t miss out on this learning opportunity!
At GiGi’s Playhouse, each program has a therapeutic or educational focus. Even if it appears the participants are just having fun, they are learning and experiencing therapy in disguise at the same time. Whether working on social skills, motor skills, speech and language, reading, math, computers or just simple peer interaction, it is all purposeful fun! Along with the development of new skills comes self-esteem- the most important element to Playhouse programs. Self-esteem is formed not only in the child with Down syndrome, but in the family members as well.
Families and siblings are always welcome at GiGi’s Playhouse Des Moines during programs or any time when the Playhouse is open. Parents are expected to remain at the Playhouse during programs, and be actively involved in supporting their child’s participation in program activities. Volunteers are also available to assist throughout the program.