I recently felt moved to organize an event for toddlers. After talking with other mothers of toddlers, I realized there weren’t many free options for this age group in the summer. Most vacation bible school programs and other events are for kids five and older. I noticed a gap in programming and felt an invisible push to provide something. 

I knew the church where I attend, Faith Presbyterian, had a projector and large screen in the fellowship hall. We also have a popcorn machine.  A movie event, I thought. I saw an opportunity and approached my pastor. He joyfully agreed it was the perfect place to hold such an event. 

On July 10th, we held the first installment of Movies for Tots. Parents and caregivers of toddlers, approximately ages 2-5, came and enjoyed the kids classic, Toy Story. Quilted blankets were laid on the ground for the kids (and some adults) to sit and enjoy the movie. Pillows were encouraged. A giving woman from my church popped movie-style popcorn for everyone. There were cookies, lemonade, drink pouches, and fruit snacks. We had a great time eating and laughing together at the movie, which I still find comical, even as an adult. The event was a success.

I’ve enjoyed organizing this event. Not only do I want to provide a free service for families with toddlers in the Baytown community, but I also think making time for our children to be around other children is vital to their social growth. 

I recently read an article on, titled “Social Development Milestones: Ages 1-4.” The writer, Linda Diproperzio, argues that the milestones during these formative years “are important because they prepare a child to manage personal feelings, understand others’ feelings and needs, and interact in a respectful and acceptable way.” And a lot of this formation needs to be done around other children. Around age 3, Diproperzio writes that “associative play begins at this age, so your child will start to look for other kids.” They don’t just want to play with mommy and daddy anymore. They long to and need to be around other kids to develop. Even at age 1, it’s important for baby to see adults socializing so they can begin to learn what that interaction looks like.

The next installment will be July 24th. I hope you will join us. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to arrive at 10:15 to get snacks and find a seat. The movie will start at 10:30. We may watch another classic, Finding Nemo, though I’m still undecided.

Spread the word. Come enjoy a movie, popcorn, and homemade cookies (who doesn’t love a good homemade cookie?). I would love to see you there. Not only to get out the heat, but also to reap the benefits of socializing our children and nurturing their growth.

Justa Lanie Garrett is a lifelong resident of Baytown.

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