The season of spring has represented new life and rebirth for millennia. In particular, the month of April is often the first sign of vivid life to come. It is only fitting, then, that April is also the National Month of the Young Child.
Decades of research have shown that early childhood years help shape how children grow, learn, and interact with others. Recognizing the impact of childhood development from birth to age eight, the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC) first named April the Month of the Young Child in 1971. Other state chapters soon followed suit, resulting in communities across the nation celebrating this observance through meaningful activities.
Due to the importance of early childhood development, the Month of the Child features a special calendar of activities for parents, school, and children. Structured on a weekly basis, this calendar specifically focuses on nurturing and advocating for children during these critical years. Moreover, each weekly guide is easy to implement among parents or centers that advocate for children.
Week 1: Physical Development
This week of observance focuses on physical development. Suggested activities include increasing physical activity through exercise and play, making nutritious and tasty meals, having a recommended car seat, and following healthy sleep practices. It is also important to monitor the child in reaching certain milestones, including physical balance and coordination, strength and endurance, and attention and alertness. Experts recommend developing these skills through fun outdoor activities, and things are just starting to warm up enough in April that parents will want to get the whole family involved.
Week 2: Social and Emotional Development
The next week of observance encourages the child’s direct involvement in social and emotional development. Suggested activities include modeling caring and encouraging the child to express feelings through words, drawing, or other forms of art. Experts encourage parents to recognize the child’s effort through open praise, feedback, and acknowledgement. Making a point to offer choices, even in the smallest of areas, can raise a child’s sense of agency and expression in interpersonal development.
Week 3: Cognitive Development
The third week of observance emphasizes cognitive development. Recommended activities include recognizing visual patterns, practicing problem solving, and identifying words, letters, and numbers. Parents can also allow their child to create open-ended projects using recognizable colors, tools, and shapes.
Week 4: Language and Literacy Skills Development
The final week of observance focuses on empowering children with communication skills. Recommended activities include reading aloud, singing, and learning new nursery rhymes and finger-plays.
Recognizing the results-driven success of the Month of the Young Child, National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) expanded upon the idea and officially recognized the final week of April as the Week of the Young Child (WOYC). If parents choose to follow this model, suggested activities include the following:
Encourage a child’s joyful expression while potentially increasing aptitude for math, language, and literacy. Singing, dancing, and playing small instruments helps with brain development, increasing recognition of patterns and rhythm, and improves coordination.
Use this day to make child-friendly recipes together. Counting and mixing ingredients teaches children about math, science, nutrition, and healthy eating habits. Cooking with colorful seasonal foods can also encourage recognition of standard rainbow colors.
Encourage social and interpersonal skills by building something together. Examples include creating a fort, igloo, or clubhouse together.
Strengthen cognitive development and hand-eye coordination through a tactile art project. Suggestions include paper mâché or finger painting.
Take pictures together and share family stories to help the child feel secure in the family unit.
In support of the Month of the Young Child, the Warren Center contributes to the future of young children by offering a host of programs and services. For example, our Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) programs provide targeted therapy for children ages birth to three years. These services include therapy in communication, motor skills, and sensory processing. Similarly, our Clinical Therapy Services program provides comprehensive evaluation and therapy for children ages three to five years old. Our Family Education and Support (FES) has a full range of workshops and support meetings that can help you make the most of the Month of the Child.
The Month of the Child is a registered service mark of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC). The Week of the Young Child (WOYC) is a registered service mark of the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).