Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 6:17 PM on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free development checks being offered for children under 5 this month, October

Point of View

By Lolita Brache and Karen Shemet

It's September already. A new school year has started for children 5 and over. But we shouldn't forget the babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Will your young one be ready for school when the time comes? Is your child moving through the developmental milestones comfortably? Do you have questions about how to help your child learn? Every fall the Kenai Peninsula Borough school district and Birth 2 Three provide "Child Check" (formerly called "Child Find") — a developmental, vision and hearing screening for babies, toddlers and pre-school children.

"Why is it important to screen children's developmental skills?" one may wonder. Just as your child has regular medical check-ups, it's important to have regular developmental checks.

During these 45 minutes, we take a closer look at how your child's small and large muscle movement, communication, problem solving and social-emotional skills are progressing along. You will be given ideas for ways to support your child's learning. If necessary, a more extensive evaluation can be scheduled to determine what else might be needed to ensure that your child gets the support needed to be able to enter school ready to succeed.

Child Check is easy, fun and a lovely chance to talk to a child development specialist about how your little one is tracking through those milestones. Child Checks dates will be scheduled in each southern Kenai Peninsula community in September or October.

Child checks will be offered in:

Homer: At Homer Public Health, Sept. 28; call 235-6044;

Anchor Point: At Chapman School, Sept 29; call 235-8671;

Ninilchik: On Oct. 14; call 567-3970.

Screenings in the Russian villages are coming in October.

This is a free opportunity, so call Birth 2 Three at 235-6044 for more information and to make an appointment for your child.

If you will need help with transportation to this important event, please ask about assistance when you make your appointment. Taxi and fuel vouchers will be made available on a limited basis through Families First. Families First: A Best Beginnings Partnership is a collaborative group supporting early childhood education and families on the Kenai Peninsula.

Lolita Brache is co-chair of Families First. Karen Shemet is with Birth 2 Three.