Thoughtful Parenting: Importance of early childhood screenings

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Schedule a screening

Developmental screenings for children 2 years and 6 months to 5 years old will be held in March throughout Routt County:

■ March 11 and 12 at South Routt Preschool. Call 970-638-1065 after Feb. 26 to make an appointment. If your child is entering the preschool in fall 2013, attendance at the screening is requested.

■ March 18 and 19 at George P. Sauer Human Services Center, 325 Seventh St. Call 970-879-0391 after March 1 to make an appointment.

■ March 21 and 22 at Hayden Valley Elementary School. Call 970-276-3756 after March 1 to make an appointment.

■ Call Horizons at 970-871-8558 to have a child younger than 2 years, 6 months screened.

If you have questions about your child’s development, Child Find infant and preschool screenings can answer some of them. Developmental screenings include checking your child’s growth and progress in areas such as speech and language, fine motor, gross motor, hearing, vision, concept development and social adaptability. The screenings can answer questions including:

■ Is my child’s speech developing typically?

■ Is my child learning?

■ Does my child have typical hearing and vision?

■ Does my child have typical motor skills?

■ How does my child play with other children?

■ How does my child respond to difficult situations or transitions?

The Child Find team at the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Services, in partnership with Horizons Specialized Services, provides free screenings and evaluations for children ages birth to 5. The program is intended to identify children who might need extra support or have developmental concerns. The screenings are provided by trained early-childhood professionals, including a special education teacher, occupational therapist, speech and language pathologist, school psychologist, physical therapist, audiologist and school nurse.

The results of an evaluation will be shared with the parents and next steps will be considered at that time.

Parents, family members or anyone who works with children ages 5 and younger can refer a child for a developmental screening.

How children grow

A child’s growth is much more than physical. Children grow, develop and learn throughout their lives, and development can be followed by how they play, learn, speak and behave.

Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving bye are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones through playing, learning, speaking, behaving and moving. A developmental delay is when your child does not reach these milestones near the same time as other children who are the same age.

Most of the time, a developmental delay is not something your child will grow out of on his or her own. But with help, your child could reach his or her full potential.

Proper nutrition, exercise and rest are very important for children’s health and development. Providing a safe and loving home and spending time with your child — playing, singing, reading and talking — also can make a big difference in his or her development.

Remember that an active role in your child’s development is critical to his or her success in school.

Call Horizons at 970-871-8558 or BOCES at 970-879-0391 for more information.

Jane Toothaker is the executive director of Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Services. BOCES has been a member of the Routt County Early Childhood Council since its inception in 1997.

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