Local three year olds were rounded up for fun in the Gibraltar Room recently at an event focused on screening to help best prepare youngsters for starting school. The second annual 3-Year-Old Roundup provided support for families from a wide range of local agencies.
The event was based on the importance of early screening for developmental delays in young children, in areas such as speech and language, gross and fine motor skills, dental health, eyesight and social and emotional development.
School District #27 early years co-ordinator Joan Lozier organized the event. “Response from people was overwhelmingly positive; the kids loved the door prizes and all the fun activities and the parents appreciated all the information available,” she said.
“Turnout was as expected, but we’d always like to see more. There are roughly 300 three-year-olds in our community and we saw almost 50 of them. We were thrilled to see the ones who came and hope the event continues to grow.”
Organizations at the Roundup included StrongStart, Pregnancy Outreach, Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy (CCPL), Little Moccasins, Child Care Resource and Referral, Williams Lake Optometry, Child Development Centre occupational therapists, Success by 6, an Interior Health dental worker and a Speech and Language pathologist.
“There was an overall reference to the Nipissing screening tool available for parents in places throughout the community,” she added.
She said it was so great to have Ministry of Children and Families Child and Youth Mental Health at the event, with information for families. “Social and emotional development is so important for kids getting ready to go to school,” she stated.
“I also really liked that the Williams Lake Early Years Virtual Centre was there, with an iPad set up for parents to check out www.wlchild.ca which lists all local programs and events for children.”
Having live music there was so appropriate and so fun, she added. “Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy (CCPL) passed out free books at the event, and partnered with Success by 6 and MCFD Child and Youth Mental Health for music around a ‘campfire’ with Troy Forcier and LeRae Haynes singing with kids,” she noted.
“This event is a good opportunity for families to see if their child might need extra support,” said Carla Burlinger, facilitator of Communities That Care and Literacy Outreach Coordinator for CCPL. “We provide Books for Babies for new families, and this event his gives us a chance to reconnect with families, talk about the next steps in their child’s learning, and let them choose a book to take home.”
Screening is important because after children get their 18-month immunization, their development isn’t formally monitored by professionals until they reach Kindergarten, according to Joanne Meyrick, Early Years Program Manager with the Women’s Contact Society.
“Occasionally, a child hits a small bump in one of the developmental areas and could benefit from a little help,” she explained. “When children get help early it helps to prevent them from falling behind, and from a small bump becoming a larger hurdle.”
Lozier said that speech and language development is incredibly important for kids.
“Our Kindergarten teachers are seeing more and more that a high percentage of kids enter the classroom with very low language skills,” she added.
“Much of that could be corrected early by lots of singing with our children, rhyming, reading lots of stories and playing word games.
“It’s so much better when parents spend this kind of face to face time with their little ones, rather than depending on fancy software on an iPad. Face-to-face interaction can make an incredible difference in a child’s life,” she said. “It’s a relationship.”
For more information about upcoming events for children, including Baby Fest on November 17, celebrating every baby born in 2016, visit www.wlchild.ca.