--The American Academy of Pediatrics
Just as children across the country are settled into the new school year, I am delighted to share with you the release of
The Pediatrician's Role in Optimizing School Readiness
, a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. As a pediatrician who's been working almost exclusively in early learning for more than a decade, it is exciting to see the progression of pediatricians' understanding of school readiness, evolving alongside that of so many of our colleagues and partners.
School readiness includes not only the early academic skills of children but also their physical health, language skills, social and emotional development, motivation to learn, creativity, and general knowledge," says the AAP. "
Families and communities play a critical role in ensuring children's growth in all of these areas and thus their readiness for school."
This statement encompasses a lot of information, including two of the concepts that I think are most critical to our collective efforts to assure that all children are ready for school.
The first, that a child's school readiness is multifaceted--it requires a "whole child" approach. And second, that school readiness is about three things: children are ready for school; schools are ready for children; and families and communities are able to provide the supports and services that contribute to school readiness (as defined decades ago by the National Education Goals Panel).
Washington State has recognized both of these foundational concepts since before the creation of Thrive Washington and the Department of Early Learning in 2006. But given the complexity of early childhood systems and services, and the historical lack of significant investment in young children, it is easy to focus heavily on one or two areas, and forget the importance of the whole. This statement helps us see that big picture, while describing the critical role that children's doctors and the health care system can play as partners in supporting young children and families. Read on for some key recommendations, and when you have a few minutes, I'd encourage you to read the full statement.
And finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't simultaneously note how Reach Out and Read is highlighted by the AAP. "
Pediatricians can promote early language development and literacy by encouraging parents to read and spend time with their children every day if possible and by participating in programs such as Reach Out and Read."
Thank you for all you to do to help young children get a great start in life.