Parents eagerly anticipate those big moments—the first smile, the first word, the first step. Those are just a few of the many, many developmental milestones your child will reach in the first five years of life. While babies develop with amazing speed, it’s also important to remember all children do so at their own pace. What should you look for at 3 months? At 12 months? By the time your child turns 4? The following links give families a guideline of what to expect—as well as warning signs that there may be a developmental delay.
A child’s development covers many different domains: cognitive, language, gross motor, fine motor, and social/emotional skills. The Early Childhood Investment Corporation has put together a guide for parents that focuses solely on the social and emotional development of children birth to five years old. Click here to download the Social & Emotional Health and School Readiness.
Every state in the country has an early intervention program for young children who are experiencing a developmental delay or who have a diagnosed disability. In Michigan, it is called Early On, and it services children from birth to 36 months (3rd birthday).
Early On can provide a FREE in-home evaluation, and if needed, a service coordinator is also provided for free. To learn more, go to www.1800earlyon.org or call 1-800-EARLY-ON.
FREE services may also be available to children three years or older who have a developmental delay or diagnosed disability. To learn more about that, call your local school district.
What is a medical home? It’s your child’s doctor’s office or clinic. It’s where to take your child for:
Every child needs a medical home! It offers the very best care for your child. Because the staff knows your child, they can:
When your child is sick or hurt, call your medical home. You can call 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Call for help, advice, or an appointment.
Only go to the emergency room if your child could die or risk their health if they do not receive help NOW! If it’s not an emergency, call your medical home.
The Children’s Healthcare Access Program, an initiative of First Steps, is working to connect families to a high quality medical home.
Is your family feeling stressed or overwhelmed?
Are you worried about your child’s behavior?
Are you fighting with your partner or child?
There is help!
Why would my child and I talk to a counselor?
Services available to families and children in Kent County include:
Are you interested in learning more about mental health services for you and your child?
Ear infections are one of the most common childhood illnesses. They can be very painful—keeping both children and parents from a good night’s sleep. Even though ear infections are often uncomfortable, they are usually not serious. You can almost always wait until morning to call your child’s doctor’s office or clinic.
Symptoms of an ear infection:
Before you call the doctor, there are several things you can do at home to help relieve the pain of an ear infection.
You can learn more about dozens of health topics for you and your child at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital website.
If you have specific questions about asthma, you can learn more at the Asthma Network of West Michigan. The Asthma Network provides intensive case management to low- and moderate-income children and adults with asthma. It also provides education to those caring for individuals with asthma—physicians and nurses, school and child care personnel and family members.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and the Asthma Network of West Michigan are First Steps’ partners in the Children’s Healthcare Access Program.
There are free services that will help you find quality child care.
Here are a few tips to help make for a smooth transition:
Why should I consider preschool for my child?
Preschool is an important step to prepare your child for future success. A high quality preschool can help get your child ready for school success. Research shows children who attend a quality preschool program often have better social skills (such as being able to follow a routine and get along with others), better test scores and are less likely to repeat a grade.
There are two tuition-free preschool programs in Kent County: the Great Start Readiness Program and Head Start for Kent County. There is one phone number that can help you enroll your child in the program that is right for you. Call 616-447-2409 to sign up for preschool.
Head Start is for 3- and 4-year-old children. Families must meet income guidelines. Learn more online at Head Start for Kent County.
The Great Start Readiness Program is for eligible 4-year-old children. Most school districts in Kent County, as well as some community agencies, have a GSRP preschool program. If you would like to learn more, contact your local school district.
The first day of kindergarten is one of the most exciting days in a young child’s life, but it can also be a bit scary and overwhelming. There are many things you can do to help your child get ready for kindergarten. The Michigan Department of Education has a few suggestions:
In Michigan, children must turn 5 on or before December 1 to enroll in kindergarten. You may have a lot of questions as your child starts school. Should you consider Young 5’s or developmental kindergarten? What will your child do in kindergarten? How can you help your child become a reader? The Michigan Department of Education has put together a series of “parent guides” to help answer those questions.
Your baby is born ready to learn. The first three years of life are the most important for brain development. When you talk, read and sing to your child, you’re helping to build a healthy brain. Through play, your child learns how things work, how to solve problems and how to get along with others.
How can you turn everyday moments into learning opportunities?
There are many online resources with suggestions of simple, fun things you can do to help your child learn to talk and read. These are just a few:
There are many opportunities to get together with other parents and children to share stories, songs and play. Most libraries in Kent County regularly offer free story times and playgroups for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
To learn more and for a schedule of activities, go to:
Bright Beginnings, a partnership of the Kent ISD and its constituent districts, offers a number services to families with children birth to kindergarten entry. Bright Beginnings playgroups are provided free of cost throughout Kent County. For more information and a complete schedule, go to Bright Beginnings.
Newborn – 3 months
American Babies / The Global Fund for Children
What Does Baby See? / Elliot Kreloff
Beddy-Bye, Baby / Karen Katz
Tickle, Tickle / Helen Oxenbury
Baby Faces / Margaret Miller
3 – 6 months
Baby Nose to Baby Toes / Vicky Ceelen
This Little Piggy / Annie Kubler
Bunny Eats Lunch / Michael Dahl
Where is Baby’s Belly Button? / Karen Katz
Hooray for Fish! / Lucy Cousins
6 – 10 months
You and Me, Baby / Lynn Reiser
Baby at the Farm: A Touch and Feel Book / Karen Katz
Snuggle Puppy: A Little Love Song / Sandra Boynton
Big Board First 100 Words / Roger Priddy
Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes / Annie Kubler
10 – 12 months
Baby Animals on the Farm / Kingfisher
Baby, I Love You / Karma Wilson
Green Hat, Blue Hat / Sandra Boynton
Cookie’s Week / Cindy Ward and Tomie DePaola
I Love You Through and Through / Bernadette Rossetti-Shustak and Caroline Jay Church
Who’s at Home?: A Lift-the-Flap Book / Nancy Davis
Uh-Oh! / Rachel Isadora
Trucks Go / Steve Light
Where’s my Sweetie Pie? / Ed Emberley
Little Critter’s Where’s My Kitty? / Mercer Mayer
Fifteen Animals / Sandra Boynton
I Can Do It Too! / Karen Baicker
Happy Birthday, Little Pookie / Sandra Boynton
What Color Is Your Apple? / Begin Smart
Sitting in my Box / Deb Lillegard
Jump! / Scott Fischer
Bear in Underwear / Todd Doodler
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog / Mo Willems
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! / Karen Beaumont
Lola at the Library / Anna McQuinn
Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes / Eric Litwin
Go Away, Big Green Monster! / Ed Emberley
I’m the Best / Lucy Cousins
Rhyming Dust Bunnies / Jan Thomas
26 Letters and 99 Cents / Tana Hoban
There Was an Old Monster / Ed Emberley
A Fish out of Water / Helen Palmer
Super Hungry Dinosaur / Chris Waddell
The Handiest Things in the World / Andrew Clements
Sky-High Guy / Nina Crews
Monkey with a Toolbelt and the Noisy Problem / Chris Monroe
Farmer Joe and the Music Show / Tony Mitton
Lion’s Lunch / Fiona Tierney
This reading list is provided by the Grand Rapids Public Library and Kent District Library.
Are you wondering what kinds of services and programs are available for your family? The Child and Family Resource Council’s “Family Resource Guide” includes resources for:
You can find the “Family Resource Guide” online.
There are a number of educational and fun websites with games and activities for preschool-age children. Here are a few popular sites you may want to check out with your child. While some of them do sell products or subscriptions, all of these sites also include many FREE activities.
PNC Grow Up Great PNC Grow Up Great is a 10-year, $100 million school readiness initiative to help prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life. The site is a collaborative effort of PNC and Sesame Street and includes wonderful activities and resources for young children and their families.
Starfall This site concentrates on reading and learning letters. There are many online storybooks as well as literacy-based games.
Sproutonline An extension of the PBS Sprout cable television channel, this site features characters like Elmo, Thomas the Tank, Angelina, Bob the Builder, and Barney. It includes games, videos, crafts, and activities.
Preschool Activity Box This site has ideas for crafts and other activities for families to do with their young children.
Sesame Street This site has educational games, videos, and other activities for toddlers and preschoolers—all with their favorite Sesame Street friends.
Nick Jr Dora, Diego, and other Nick Jr. characters are featured on this site full of games, crafts, and recipes.
Playhouse Disney Games, music, stories, and other activities are all part of this site based on the characters of Playhouse Disney—Mickey, Handy Manny, and the Little Einsteins.
Lil Fingers Lil’ Fingers is a storybook site for toddlers with educational games, storybooks and printable coloring pages.
American Library Association The American Library Association has compiled a list of kid-friendly websites that promote literacy and learning.