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Pediatricians play a vital role in school readiness

Matt Boster

Viewed: 562

Posted by: Matt Boster
Date: Sep 10 2019 7:26 AM

Montgomery, AL (September 9, 2019) A new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report in the August 2019 issue of Pediatrics. "School Readiness," published online July 22, points to the importance and value of pediatricians in working with families to promote school readiness. Pediatricians are prevention experts, actively employing their knowledge and skills to help children reach their full potential. This is true for all aspects of a child’s life, including being ready to learn at school.


Too many U.S. children start kindergarten without adequate social-emotional and behavior skills critical to school success, according to the report, which highlights rapidly expanding research that shows how these gaps can be eased or eliminated. “School readiness is an important achievement for all children,” says Madeleine Blancher, MD, FAAP, Alabama Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics early childhood advocate. “The Alabama State Department of Early Childhood Education is committed to reaching this goal by instituting First Class Pre-K, a quality early childhood education program. Partners from across the state are also working hand in hand through the Young Child Wellness Council and Help Me Grow, a program that connects parents to services they need to help their children achieve optimal development. If children are ready to learn by kindergarten, the community benefits as well as the individual child.”


Present for much of a child’s life, pediatricians see children frequently at well-child check-ups and it is during these encounters that they can help families understand child development, both physically and emotionally so that they can parent better, which will help their child learn. They can then provide the caregiver with what they need to help the child fulfill their potential by:


1)    Strengthening the relationship between the child and caregiver. When caregivers understand the child’s emotional needs and can meet those needs, their relationship grows to be more positive.
And this helps children learn.


2)    Empowering the caregivers to increase the child’s language development by just talking to them. Reach Out and Read-Alabama is an important program in Alabama that uses the credibility and expertise of pediatricians to help parents and other caregivers read more to their children. It also introduces books to families who may not have the means to buy them.


3)    Identifying situations or conditions that may adversely affect the ability to learn, such as maternal depression, substance abuse, neglect, inadequate housing or food, and autism.  Sending these families for appropriate interventions increases the child’s chances of overcoming the stress and being able to learn.


4)    Helping families with positive parenting discipline techniques.  Corporal punishment and harsh consequences can affect the ability to learn in a negative way.


In Alabama, pediatricians work with our partners on a variety of initiatives to bridge gaps between health and learning, including Help Me Grow, Project LAUNCH and the Alabama Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.


Reach Out and Read-Alabama, a program of the Alabama Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics, gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together. The organization reaches 110,400 families each year, many living in poverty. More than 300 physicians prescribe 160,000 new books annually at well-child visits for patients aged six months through five years. The American Academy of Pediatrics promotes literacy as “an essential component of pediatric primary care” for all children, and references Reach Out and Read as an effective intervention to engage parents and prepare children to achieve their potential in school and beyond.


For more information about Reach Out and Read-Alabama, please visit www.roralabama.org.


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