April is Month of the Young Child in Routt County, and nationally, the week of April 24 is Week of the Young Child.
This weekly column about parenting issues is written by local early childhood experts. It publishes on Mondays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children, or NAEYC, established the WOYC recognizing that the early childhood years — birth through age 8 — lay the foundation for children's success in school and later life.
This time period is an annual celebration sponsored by NAEYC and First Impressions of Routt County. We’ve been celebrating this time locally for more than 25 years. Through the years, we’ve had balloon releases from the top of the gondola (before anyone thought of the environmental ramifications), children’s artwork decorating the SST fleet or Lincoln Avenue storefronts and almost always the Children’s Parade downtown.
This year’s Children’s Parade is set for 10 to 11 a.m. April 20 between Fifth and Seventh streets on Lincoln Avenue.
We continue to celebrate early learning, young children, their families and their teachers. Some ideas for activities are outlined below and follow the week’s daily themes.
• Monday is about music. Music helps children develop math, language and literacy skills. Singing and dancing with your child is a fun way to encourage movement and brain development. When you clap or drum or move to the beat, you are experiencing math concepts with your body.
• Tasty Tuesday is focused on cooking. Families who cook together teach their children about science, math, language, nutrition and healthy eating habits. Mixing, measuring and cooking with foods from the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) are great ways to allow your child to be a part of the family routine. And, as an added bonus, if your child helps prepare the meal, he or she is more likely to eat it. For kid-friendly recipes visit naeyc.org/files/naeyc/woyc_raco_cookbook.pdf
• Mid week brings “Work Together Wednesday.” Build something together. Make a fort inside with sheets, pillows and chairs. Play with your child in a spontaneous and immersive way. Recently, a mom picked up her child from Discovery, and as they were leaving, mom and son were pretending to be robots, talking in robot voices and moving robotically. It made adults do a double-take, but the look on the child’s face was priceless. He felt and knew deeply that his mom was all about playing with him in that moment. Parenting doesn’t get any better than that.
• Artsy Thursday is a time to be creative, problem solve and make choices. Open-ended art projects allow your child to experience the joy of creating a masterpiece that can adorn your refrigerator or shelf. Use any materials.
• Friday is about celebrating families. You are the anchor and most important person(s) for your child. Show yourself some appreciation. Share pictures and stories about your family on NAEYC's Facebook page, or post to Twitter using the hashtag #woyc17 as we celebrate the unique role families play in their children's learning and development.
Visit naeyc.org/woyc/activity-resources for more ideas, and enjoy this week/month of the young child.
Tami Havener is executive director of Discovery Learning Center/Family Development Center.