ORIGINS OF LEARNING THROUGH PLAY
Learning Through Play Founder and Executive Director Nikki Mingledorff discovered her true passion as a professional and as a person while taking a hiatus from her burgeoning career as a marriage and family therapist to stay at home with her three young children. As it often goes, Nikki and her husband Jason’s lives experienced a dramatic change once kids were added into the equation. Like so many others, parenthood was the ultimate blessing for them, but the stress and challenges it brought put a strain on their relationship. As they learned how to become a united parenting team, both Nikki and Jason came to personally understand the benefits of a growth mindset approach. For them, the key was learning to prioritize and focus on the urgent importance of their health as a couple, their individual wellness, and their roles as parents, all while honoring each other’s love languages and coming to further understand the other’s unique personality type. As a result, Nikki has a deep appreciation and personal connection to the advantages of maintaining strong emotional intelligence and the long-lasting effectiveness of having a growth mentality.
Nikki and Jason came to embody this growth mindset approach and identified themselves as life-long learners. In the same fashion, they both hoped to raise their sons with this philosophy and wanted to find a school setting that embraced this same point of view. While searching for schools that were the best fit for their children and matched this criteria, they learned about the different teaching modalities; among them, the Montessori method really resonated with Nikki and Jason’s parenting philosophy and became the clear standout. Throughout the years, Nikki and Jason have been able to see the Montessori method’s benefits firsthand in each of their children’s educational experiences and in the way their sons are emerging into their own confident selves.
Through their family, friends, work, neighborhood, and the boys’ school environment, Nikki and Jason were fortunate to raise their children in a strong, supportive community of other like-minded professionals. She realized that many parents do not have access to such a network, and saw the need to fill this gap in services and support in the community. From her experience as a parent, spouse, and former mental health professional, Nikki saw how much her professional and personal experience favorably melded together. She understood how fundamentally important emotional intelligence skills are to living a gratifying life and that a growth mindset reaps life-long benefits. Throw in a strong, nurturing and fun learning environment and this is a recipe for success! She began to envision an intentional network similar to the one she had benefitted from, but one more broadly available to parents in the Greater New Orleans area and one that combines elements that had so inspired her in her personal and professional life – thus the concept of Learning Through Play was born! Nikki hopes to continue to grow Learning Through Play by working in collaboration with community centers and other neighborhood fixtures to host more LTP children’s classes and parent, family, and couple workshops to bring individuals in communities together. At Learning Through Play, we understand how necessary community is because truly, “it takes a village”.
ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Learning Through Play Founder and Executive Director Nikki Mingledorff has lived in New Orleans for over 20 years. Nikki received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Tulane University in 2000 and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego in 2004. She began working as a Mental Health Professional in Mental Health Rehabilitation in 2005. In her professional work, Nikki employed techniques stemming predominantly from cognitive behavioral therapy and systemic therapy, particularly Minuchin’s structural family therapy, Sue Johnson’s emotion-focused therapy, Bowenian family systems theory, and Virginia Satir’s human validation process model. She is also EMDR certified and has had extensive training in Child Parent Relationship Therapy, Play Therapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition to her work at Learning Through Play, Nikki is also Family Care’s Divorce and Mediation Center’s Program Director, Co-Parent Coach, Support Group Leader, and Trainer.
Nikki met her future husband, Jason Mingledorff, a well-respected and versatile local musician, a year before beginning her graduate training in San Diego. After a 2-year long distance relationship, Nikki returned to New Orleans and the two quickly married. When Nikki became a mom for the first time, her whole world shifted. Because of her husband’s hectic touring schedule and the rigorous nature of her work, Nikki decided to take a hiatus from her professional career to focus on her family. Because of her professional background working with parents, families and children, Nikki was a confident first-time mom. During the early childrearing years of her three sons, Nikki saw how considerably and seamlessly her professional and personal experience melded together, and thus, the first seeds of Learning Through Play emerged!