Getting Ready for School
School readiness isn’t simply about recognizing letters, counting, and learning to sit in a circle. Getting a child ready for school also involves promoting a secure attachment to parents and other adults, building self-confidence and exerting self-control.1 These are crucial components of parenting a young child that have life-long implications.
When Diego was 20 months old, his mother Mary Bell found Any Baby Can through a chance encounter with a staff member. She was primarily concerned about his language delay since Diego could not say anything and barely made sounds. As a first-time mom, she didn’t know exactly where his milestones should be. She was receiving plenty of “parenting tips” from well-meaning grandparents and friends, which sometimes left her more confused. In addition to her and her husband’s busy jobs, Mary Bell is a dedicated parent who is always striving to make the best decisions for her child.
When Diego joined Any Baby Can's Healthy and Fair Start program, his whole family became a part of the team. They were matched with a parent educator, Angelica, who met with Diego and his grandmother every other week. His grandmother replicates the activities oustide of the visits, and buys educational materials at garage sales to support Diego's learning. She encourages Diego and praises him when he works hard to reach goals. His grandfather also attended some sessions, prompting Diego to listen and concentrate on the activities.
At the monthly group events and parent-child outings, Diego was always joined by his loving family including his mom, dad, grandmother or grandfather. It was during these group activities that Angelica noticed Diego’s behavior and difficulty engaging with other kids. He preferred to sit with the adults while the other children roamed the playground. He was shy and often had difficulty participating. When Angelica encouraged Mary Bell to seek speech and occupational therapy, mom arranged all of the appointments, his grandfather drove him to appointments and his grandmother kept Diego advancing at home. It was a true team effort!
Growth and Confidence for Child and Parent
Diego made a lot of progress in his communication and social skills. Mary Bell grew her confidence in parenting. Mary Bell was also connected with a counselor through the No Estás Solo program to work through some difficult issues and emotions.
As Diego approached school age, his parents were concerned that he wasn’t quite ready and contemplated waiting an extra year to send him to preschool. Although Diego did not have a formal diagnosis, Angelica was able to connect them to Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) and encouraged the parents to keep pushing on Diego’s development.
Surprising his parents, grandparents, and even Angelica, Diego was happy to be in school from the minute he entered his classroom. He didn’t cry at drop-off and loved being around other children. The teachers said he was great at following directions and respecting rules. He fit right in! His verbal, social and concentration skills continued to improve every day.
When Diego’s school closed down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, everyone had to adapt. Angelica began doing virtual visits with his mom in the evenings to accommodate Mary Bell’s schedule. She continued to encourage parent-child interactions and was able to answer Mary Bell’s questions through telehealth visits. Angelica always made sure to support Mary Bell as much as Diego, praising her parenting skills and encouraging her to follow her instincts.
Even though Diego is now doing virtual learning, he has the support of his entire family in his development and education. Diego’s story shows us that children who have a strong, supportive family are able to overcome challenges and look forward to a bright future.
1 Thompson, R. (Spring/Summer 2001). Development in the First Years in The Future of Children: Caring for Infants and Toddlers, Vol. 11, No.1
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