April is the Month of the Young Child

Take time to celebrate young children this month with a different theme each week.

April is the Month of the Young Child

April has been designated the Month of the Young Child, designed to highlight the unique needs and rights of young children and their families. Take time this spring 2017 to learn about your local Month of the Young Child activities and events. The Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children offers a free printable calendar with daily activities aligned with their focus weeks. The month is divided into four weekly themes to focus on different key areas of child development.

Week one, April 1–8, focuses on physical development

Take time this week to review your family routines to be sure your child is getting enough sleep, eating well-balanced meals and drinking enough water. Review your child’s immunizations and schedule a well-child visit with their doctor if they’re overdue. Find a child passenger safety technician near you and check to see if your child’s car seat is installed and used correctly. Spring is upon us, and now is a great time to implement family walks or other daily outdoor physical activity with your child.

Week two, April 9–15, focuses on social development

Did you know that children’s social and emotional development has been found to be a bigger predictor of their academic success than their family background and even their IQ? Take time this week to focus on your child’s social development. What do you do in your family to promote positive relationships? Teach and model empathy, kindness and caring. Use children’s books to teach kindness. Teach your child problem-solving steps. Use this week as a time to review your household routines and rules. Children do best with a predictable routine and structure to their day.

Week three, April 16–22, focuses on emotional development

The ability to control and regulate emotions is critical for children’s success in school and their personal relationships. Learn more about positive strategies to teach, train and guide your children. Teach your child about their emotions. Use feeling words. Many time parents will say they “just want their child to be happy,” but of course that isn’t exactly true. Parents want their children to experience a broad range of emotions, to genuinely feel sad when their friend is hurt or mad when an injustice occurs, but they need to be able to react in an appropriate manner.

Teach your child to express their emotions verbally and through creativity such as coloring. Model appropriate expressions of feelings in your home.

Week four, April 23–30, focuses on cognitive development

These skills include the traditional academic skills such as counting and letter recognition. Read to your child every day. Help them look for examples of print in their environment. Talk to your child. An approach like “sports casting” an event is a great tool to help children who are learning to talk. Limit the use of electronic media. Children learn best through hands-on experiences. Encourage your child to write, color and draw with a variety of different writing implements and on different materials.

Michigan has celebrated the Month of the Young Child since 1971. The Month of the Young Child uses a purple ribbon to show that you care about young children and are aware of their needs. Other Month of the Young Child activities include child care job shadow day, when community leaders “work” in child care centers to experience first-hand the skills required to be an early childhood educator. Or kite day, when people who care about young children have the opportunity to sponsor a Kite Day in their home, child care center, school, business or community. Month of the Young Child is a registered service mark of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2015 Impact Reports: “Preparing young children to success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2015, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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