Thoughtful Parenting: Month of the Young Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: Month of the Young Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month

Routt County's Early Childhood Council, First Impressions, works to streamline and strengthen early childhood care and education resources for children age birth to 5. With 90 percent of brain development occurring before age 5, the return on every dollar invested is highest when spent in the first five years of a child's life.

The postnatal development of the human cerebral cortex.

Research shows that the long term benefits of children starting kindergarten ready to learn pay off when a child does not need special education services, successfully graduates from high school and is able to earn a living as a tax-paying adult. Supporting the healthy development of at-risk children is more cost effective for our society than providing services to teenagers who drop out of high school or paying for the expenses of an incarcerated adult.

The early years matter because in the first few years of life more than one million new neural connections are formed every second. Neural connections are formed through the interaction of genes and a baby's environment and experiences, especially "serve and return" interaction with adults or what developmental researchers call contingent reciprocity. These are the connections that build brain architecture — the foundation upon which all later learning, behavior and health depend.

Join First Impressions and the Routt County Department of Human Services in celebrating April as Month of the Young Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month. All of Routt County's municipalities support proclamations formally recognizing the importance of supporting young children's development and keeping all children safe from harm.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children celebrates April 16 to 20 as the Week of the Young Child. The following are a few activities to try out at home to celebrate with your family.

• Music Monday, April 16

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Sing, dance, celebrate and learn. Find the beat to connect music, movement and math. Practice clapping, drumming or stomping to the beat of music while counting.

• Tasty Tuesday, April 17

Eat healthy at home and school. Measure your ingredients while making your snacks. Ask children if they would like the same or different amounts of each ingredient.

• Work Together Wednesday, April 18

Work together, build together and learn together. Practice organizing blocks by size. Try building a block tower with large blocks on the bottom and little blocks on top.

• Artsy Thursday, April 19

Think, problem solve and create. Bring art outdoors. Offer dark and light paper, chalk and pastels and suggest children create their own versions of the day and night sky.

• Family Friday, April 20

Engage and celebrate families. Create a special ritual for you and your child — something that can be done every day. For example, let your child choose and read one book with you at bedtime.

Check out more Week of the Young Child activities at naeyc.org/events/woyc/resources.

It takes a village to raise a child. What can you do to be part of our village?

Note the Month of the Young Child Children's Parade will not take place this year due to limit closures for U.S. Highway 40.

Stephanie Martin is the program administrator for Routt County's Early Childhood Council, First Impressions of Routt County. First Impressions is a program under the Department of Human Services' Division of Children, Family, and Adult Services.