Helping Our Children Thrive
By Anne E. Mead, M. Ed.
Connecticut has 63 Family Resource Centers (FRC) that support parents with their children’s growth and development. Danbury is fortunate to have two FRCs, one at Morris Street School and one at South Street School. The FRCs serve families seven different ways: preschool education, school age care, resource and referral, families in training, adult education, support to childcare providers and positive youth development. All services are free. Both schools offer free playgroups, which parents attend with their children to read, sing, play games, do arts and crafts and have a snack.
During the 1.5-hour playgroup, parents learn about topics they are interested in and healthy living habits. This year, the Danbury Public Schools have adopted the 5210 Let’s Go campaign. This campaign encourages parents to have their children eat 5 or more serving of fruits and vegetables per day, watch TV or be on the computer less than 2 hours per day, play outside for at least one hour and no soda or sugary drinks. Each playgroup offers activities that support healthy eating habits. The FRCs offer home visits to increase reading with their children, provide educational opportunities at home and to answer parents’ concerns and questions. For more information, visit http://www.danbury.k12.ct.us/ELP/EL/Welcome.html
In last month’s column, I encouraged families to email or call with questions.
Question # 1: “My child is two years old and only says a few words. I’m concerned.”
Answer: Children develop their ability to speak anywhere between 1 and 2-½ years. Your child probably understands what you are saying, so continue to talk and read books to him. Point out objects on the pages and say the word. When your child asks (through pointing or grunting) for a snack, respond, “Do you want the apple or the crackers?” Help the child to repeat the word. If by 2-½ years your child is not saying 1-2 word phrases, it may be time for a screening. The FRCs and the Danbury Family Learning Center at 49 Osborne Street in Danbury can provide these for you as well as a referral for services if needed.
Question # 2: “My child is three years old and only likes a few foods. I am scared he isn’t getting enough to eat.”
Answer: Your child’s doctor is the best person to call about this; however, children do become picky about what they like or dislike eating. Don’t get into a fight over it. Provide many choices in small portions. For a snack: two florets of broccoli with a dollop of ranch dressing with two whole-wheat crackers. For meals, try half-dollar size mini hamburgers on a quarter slice of bread. Let your child decide if he wants to put on ketchup or BBQ sauce. Make sure your child always has water or milk. Juice can fill up your child with sugary calories and decrease his appetite. This can be very frustrating time. Offering many choices and sitting with your child during mealtime in a relaxed setting will help your child develop healthy eating habits.
Keep the questions coming (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we hope to see you at one of the FRCs.
Anne E. Mead, M. Ed. is the Administrator for Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or email@example.com.
CAPTION: Estela Camacho, Family Resource Center director, reads to preschoolers at Mill Ridge Intermediate School in Danbury