April is Month of the Young Child
Suggestions on fun ways to celebrate children and families during the Month of the Young Child in April.
Years of research have shown the importance of the early years in shaping how children grow, learn and form relationships. Most parents spend day-in and day-out, making efforts to ensure their children are getting what they need to grow up healthy and happy. During the month of April, many in Michigan are taking time to celebrate some of our youngest citizens, children ages birth through age eight. In 1971, the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC) declared April the Month of the Young Child. They find creative ways to get not only parents advocating for children, but include activities and information for communities, schools, and legislatures that highlight their theme that “Early years are learning years.”
By visiting their website you can find a calendar for the month that parents can use to celebrate this month with their own children. Child care providers might also find these activities easy to implement in their centers with the children they care for. MiAEYC has divided the month into four weekly topics.
Week one the focus is on physical development. Some activities suggested are on increasing physical activity, making nutritious meals, having a car seat check, and following safe sleep practices. For information on nutrition, physical activities and other health and safety issues visit National eXtension.
Week two is focused on social and emotional development. Activities include modeling caring, helping children express feelings through words, drawing and art, recognizing your child’s efforts, and giving choices. For more information on social emotional health and child development visit the Michigan State University Extension website.
The third week’s focus is on cognitive development. Some ideas for activities include practicing problem solving, looking for visual patterns, and pointing out words and letters everywhere. For more information on early learning and school readiness visit National eXtension.
Finally the fourth week is focused on language and literacy skills. Suggested activities include reading, talking, singing, and learning new finger-plays and songs. National eXtension has lots of ideas for activities using books, and is a great resource for learning songs and finger-plays.
Communities are showing their support in a few unique ways. Many individuals will be wearing a purple ribbon this month to show their support for young children and their families. Other activities include a ‘Job Shadow’, where community leaders spend a day working alongside a child care provider in family day care homes, group homes and child care centers to help gain an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a child care professional. For more ideas on how communities can show support visit the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children website.
All acts, small and large, make a difference in the lives of young children. They can range from reading a book, babysitting for a tired mom, volunteering at school, finding out what government policies affect children, or using your own voice to speak for children who need an adult advocate. The responsibility for raising a generation of healthy and happy adults is in all of our hands and it starts in the first years of life.
“Month of the Young Child” is a registered service mark of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children.