Archived Story

Program aims to gauge children’s developmental progress

Published 8:12pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Children all develop differently, but an upcoming program sponsored by the Department of Children’s Affairs will allow parents to see whether their child will be ready to start school.

Janet Gilliland, curriculum and professional development coordinator for the Alexander City Board of Education, said the event is called Books, Balls and Blocks. It will be offered free and is for children four-months-old to 5-years-old.

“The purpose of this program is to identify early-on children that might not be developing along the lines they need to be prepared for school,” Gilliland said. “It is really hard for a parent to know what to look for, and nine times out of 10 children develop differently and things are going fine.  We are looking for the things that might be out of the ordinary range of normal development.”

Gilliland said that there are things that can be done if developmental problems are discovered, but early intervention is key.

Books, Balls and Blocks will be held at the Sportplex Gym March 14 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Several groups will be on hand providing an array of services.

Sarell Dentistry will be providing free dental screenings for children, and representatives from Jim Pearson School will be on hand to let parents know what to expect as their child heads into kindergarten.

“The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service will be there offering information on nutrition and health guidance,” Gilliland said. “Also, Alexander City’s HIPPY program will be there, and they are going to provide lunch for those who pre-register.”

The process will take about two hours from beginning to end, Gilliland said.

“We will have eight stations and volunteers there to help the children interact and play,” Gilliland said. “The parents will be given a questionnaire called Ages and Stages. When all this information is put together, it will be a true evaluation of where your child is developmentally.”

Gilliland said she is hoping for a large turnout for the event, and hopes to see it grow in the future.

“This is a service I would have loved to have as a parent,” Gilliland said. “Every parent wants to know where their child is and what they can do to help their child. We are there to guide them and say these are some things you could be doing to help them.”

Parents will leave the event with an evaluation and be provided with the opportunity to speak to someone about the evaluation before they leave.

To pre-register, call 256-329-2700. Those who do not pre-register can still attend, but a free lunch is not guaranteed.