You don’t have to be a child development expert to give a child a great start in life. In fact, it’s surprisingly simple (and fun!) to support a child’s development. But did you know that the first three years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of development? A newborn’s brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight. But by age three, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells. The role you play as a parent, guardian or caregiver is critically important throughout all of childhood but especially during this time period. Reaching out for help early if you suspect that your child is not making developmental progress can make a big difference.
If you have questions or concerns about how your infant or toddler ages zero through three plays, hears, sees, talks, eats or moves, contact Early ACCESS. To make a referral to Early ACCESS, Iowa’s System of Early Intervention, call Regional Coordinator, Gina Greene, at 319-268-7609 or contact us statewide by calling 1-888-IAKIDS1 (1-888-425-4371). To get more information about Early ACCESS, including resources and regional contacts, visit the Iowa Family Support website.
What else can you do to support your child’s development? Children learn through everything they do. Provide your child with positive experiences. Surround your child with safe and loving relationships and spend time with family – playing, singing, reading, and talking. Proper nutrition, exercise and rest can also make a big difference in healthy child development. Things like showing your love, caring for your child’s basic needs, stimulating all the senses, encouraging new challenges, taking care of yourself, and finding good childcare and play opportunities can strengthen the development of a child.
Finally, kids who hear more words spoken at home learn more words and enter school with better vocabularies. This larger vocabulary pays off as a child progresses through school. Read to babies from the beginning. The Center for Early Literacy Learning has developed specific materials to assist parents in guiding their child’s early literacy development through the use of fun and exciting literacy learning experiences. Practitioners working with parents will also find these resources helpful.
Gina Greene is the Early ACCESS Regional Coordinator for Area Education Agency 267 (AEA 267). She can be reached at 319-268-7609 or 1-800-542-8375. AEA 267 serves over 60,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.