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Discovery Day promotes child development

Masha Scheele

Here to help parents learn about their children’s development is the second annual Discovery Day hosted Nov. 2 by ParentLink and the Growing Great Kids Coalition (GGK).

Professionals from AHS, the library, ParentLink, Hinton Optometry Clinic and a teacher will help kids ages 0 to 6 work through the Ages and Stages stations representing different developmental stages with games and activities. 

Throughout the stations, kids work on communication skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving, and personal/social skills.  The games and activities introduce fun ways to help promote child development, said Cassandra Watson, ParentLink programmer and facilitator.

“It’s a good way to see where your child is at developmentally at their different stages up to 6. And it’s quality time for you and your child,” she added.

Parents get two different questionnaires to help guide them through developmental stages of a child. ParentLink follows up with parents afterwards when questionnaires have been collected and looked at by various professionals. If a child is in need of extra support in a certain category, ParentLink will refer the family to a professional that can assist them.

“What’s nice about it is that we have a great partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS) early intervention. We guide them and their family that way to get the support they need,” said Jackie Delves, ParentLink Supervisor.

Hinton’s children were slightly below the provincial average in communication, general knowledge, physical well-being, and emotional maturity, according to the Early Development Instrument (EDI) Community Profile Report from 2016, which was presented to council by GGK in the spring.

That same report also showed that Hinton’s children were two per cent more advanced in social competence. EDI is a standardized tool that measures the development of five-year-old children to see if they are ready for kindergarten.

“I was quite shocked that it was under the physical category because look at what we have in Hinton. We have so many outdoor opportunities and mobility and moving and parks. We have an abundant amount of parks. It’s interesting to see that category on the lower end,” said Delves.

For this reason, ParentLink also holds multiple programs outdoors to encourage kids to be active.

Discovery Day is meant to inform families of the importance of child development and show them that it’s not difficult to encourage certain activities at home.

“Maybe a parent has never thought about giving a two year-old scissors and they might say ‘oh I didn’t realize they could,’” said Delves.

Parents can also take home tip sheets to encourage development in certain areas. The Ages and Stages program is offered once per month by ParentLink, but this event is more interactive and offers direct support from professionals.

The program sets kids up for a great start before they go to kindergarten, said Watson.

“If a child is experiencing a delay, it’s great for early detection so that they get the proper services before they enter into the school system,” said Delves.

Due to Hinton having such a transient community, a higher number of delays in children requiring professional help has been identified, added Delves.

An early intervention specialist from AHS will attend the event who is normally contacted if someone isn’t screening great in one area.

“She has a background in early detection/early intervention. She can even see sometimes by looking at the child that there could be a slight delay,” said Delves.

The kindergarten teacher brings the in-school aspect to the event and knowledge of what parents can work on prior to school, added Watson.

A representative from the library will promote literacy and share tips and tricks on how to get a child to read, while the optometrist can identify if a delay in gross motor skills is due to eye problems and teach parents about the importance of eye health. 

The event is held on Nov. 2 from 10 am until noon at the Hinton Municipal Library.