WELCOME TO SUCCESSFUL CHILDREN’S NETWORK - Encouraging early childhood development
Successful Children’s Network is a United Way initiative created to provide parents the support and services they need so children have every opportunity for healthy development. When children are given the best opportunities for cognitive, emotional and physical development, they will be on track to succeed in school and in life.
Children do not come with instructions.
That is why it is okay to reach out for support—a good parent asks for help! We welcome you to explore this page for some quick and helpful information. We encourage you to then reach out to us for more direct and specific assistance based on your questions.
How do you know that your child is developing appropriately for his/her age?
There may be no easy way for you to determine this, but there are tests that will help reassure you that your child is healthy and happy, or identify any early developmental issues that can then be addressed.
Early detection is extremely important.
That is why there is a particular series of tests called Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQs) that are completed at different ages of a toddler’s life. The ASQ is administered by professionals at a variety of locations including public health offices and agencies such as Family Resource Center and River Source Family Center. If your child has never been taken through an ASQ, this is a great place to start.
What can you do to encourage healthy physical, cognitive and emotional development for your child?
The early years of a child’s life are critical for optimal development. Birth to 5 years old has been identified as the most critical and influential time for learning and development for human beings. That is why a parent or guardian’s role is so significant.
The parent/guardian is the child’s first and most influential teacher.
You’ve heard children’s minds referred to as “sponges”? That is because, in the first years of life, the brain is soaking up every experience and learning from it. This learning involves problem-solving, communicating, coordination, and building the basic concepts of relationships. The more you spend time with your child, the more your child learns and develops.
Be an active parent.
It’s not enough to be in the room with your child. Active parenting means putting down the cell phone, stepping away from the computer or television, and interacting with your child. Comment on and talk about the things that you and your child are doing, or speak about what you are seeing together. This encourages cognitive and social development.
Read to your child
Introducing your child to books is also extremely important, even at their earliest ages. Our local libraries (L.E. Phillips Public Library and Chippewa Falls Public Library) can become the best friend of a parent, as they have a vast collection of children’s books for all ages. Reading to your child is not something to only do occasionally, it should be a regular part of your child’s day, like a meal or snack. It can’t be emphasized enough how this affects their cognitive development—especially communication skills.
Explore the world with your child.
Even your own back yard is a wondrous world to a child. Set out and explore it with them! Let them feel the bark of a tree, smell a flower, or watch a butterfly float by. Take them to free attractions like Carson Park, the Sculpture Tour, and Irvine Park Zoo. Childhood development is all about discovery, and your child is eager to explore this amazing new world.
How do I ensure my child is eating right?
For infants, milk is all they need — breast milk, formula, or a combination of the two. Breast milk or formula provides practically every nutrient a baby needs for the first year of life.
At roughly six months of age, your baby is ready to start solid foods like iron-fortified infant cereal and strained fruits, vegetables, and pureed meats. Breast milk may not provide enough iron and zinc for babies aged six to nine months, so fortified cereals and meats can help breastfed babies in particular.
Don’t worry about fat content at this age. Other than some specific exceptions, it is not necessary to restrict fats for children less than two years old. Fat is important for a baby’s brain and nerve development.
By age two, your toddler will grow in spurts, which means his/her appetite will also come and go in spurts. Eating a lot one day and little the next is normal. Just make sure you always offer a healthful selection of food.
Do make sure that your toddler and preschool child is getting enough calcium. This is important for developing strong, healthy bones and teeth. Milk is the best possible source for calcium. If your child is lactose-intolerant, there are many alternatives such as lactose-free milk, soy milk, and various food items fortified with calcium such as juices and cereals.
Fiber is also important. Toddlers begin to get finicky about what they eat by age 2, often preferring bland, starchy diets like mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, and french fries. This is an important time to encourage fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, which all provide fiber. This helps prevent diseases and other conditions, and aids digestion. It will also help to broaden your child's tastes.
Where can you get more help?
If you are looking for information, support or services to ensure your child has every opportunity to succeed, begin by contacting our director of Successful Children’s Network at 715-834-5043. You will be asked some questions to help identify your specific needs, and then provided with the best options.