Family Play Date event encourages child development
The 2,000 days between birth and the first day of kindergarten sets the groundwork for future health and forms the foundation of social, emotional, academic and workplace success, according to North Rocky View’s Pathways to Success Coalition (PSC).
The coalition held a Family Play Date on March 9 at Genesis Place. The event, aimed at parents of children six years old and younger, focused on the results of recent research by Alberta Education’s Early Child Development Mapping Initiative (ECMap) that suggested 27 per cent of North Rocky View children are struggling in one or more areas of development.
“We were pretty surprised by the results (of the research),” said Debbie Fasoli, program coordinator for PSC.
ECMap research was conducted by specially trained kindergarten teachers and was done to strict guidelines. The program did not include children with developmental or learning disabilities. Fasoli said children’s early years are vital for brain development because neurons are forming informational pathways in the brain.
She said if children don’t receive proper stimulation these pathways won’t develop.
The event included five stations that addressed the five categories of child development outlined in the research.
“We were shocked that nearly 30 per cent of our kids are struggling,” said coalition member Barb Gross.
Gross, who also works with Community Links in Airdrie, ran the social competence station, which included information on how to encourage social interactions and relationships between kids.
The communication provided key messages about the power of play to help children communicate and express emotions.
Tips for parents included getting down to your child’s level and making eye contact, reading to your child and playing with them.
The station for language and thinking skills suggested parents sing with their children and tell each other stories.
This technique is said to help teach rhythm, colours and vocabulary.
Alberta Health Services were on hand at the physical health and well-being station, which included information on nutrition and developmental guidelines.
The express yourself station included books and resources for parents to help their child with emotional maturity and provided an area for children to draw pictures of how they were feeling that day.
Amanda McKenzie, mother to an 11-month-old daughter, said she was surprised by all the information provided at the event.
“There is a lot of resources in the community in all aspects not just physical but mental health,” McKenzie said.
Also in attendance at the event was a representative from the Alberta Father Involvement Initiative, which encourages responsible fatherhood. The group provided information and tips on fatherhood and resources for dads.
Patrick Dillon a provincial coordinator for the initiative, said research indicates a child’s benefit from father involvement.
Coalition coordinator Fasoli said the event was about giving parents tools.
“Parents are doing their best,” she said “but there are tools to help them do better.”