Spring Into School Readiness 2017

Charles Mendez, then 4 years old, is pictured in 2017 at the United Way of Northern Utah Spring Into School Readiness event.

OGDEN — A free family event this week is designed to help parents know if their preschoolers are on course to be ready for school.

United Way of Northern Utah and Ogden United Promise are sponsoring the second annual Spring Into School Readiness event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, April 6, at Ogden’s Newgate Mall. 

“This is geared for the younger kids but older kids can come, too,” said Christi Jacobs, marketing manager at United Way of Northern Utah. “There will be a school bus, activities and games. There will be story time and a giveaway of diapers, toys and some free books.”

All preschoolers whose parents fill out a questionnaire will receive an age-appropriate book while supplies last, according to the event’s news release.

Activities for preschool children at the event will focus on hands-on learning and games. There will be an hourly prize drawing.

“This is a fun activity, and it shows how playing is really the best way for children to learn. It doesn’t have to be work to help kids prepare for school,” said Dr. Teri Henke, one of the event organizers.

The goal is to provide parents with tools to evaluate the development of their young children and information on community resources available to local families, according to the news release. The event is designed to reach parents who might not otherwise be aware of resources and skills to help children prepare to enter kindergarten ready to learn.

“We hope to help every parent in attendance gain a little more insight into their child’s unique needs and growth,” said Henke, an assistant professor at Weber State University’s Department of Child & Family Studies. “This is an opportunity for parents to get expert input and find out about areas where their child may need a little extra help in reaching milestones.”

Developmental screenings available at the event may help identify warning signs that a child may need care from trained professionals to address serious learning and growth issues, Henke said.

Parents will be offered an “Ages and Stages Questionnaire” that takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. The questionnaire can pinpoint a child’s strengths and weaknesses and teach parents about important developmental milestones in the early growth of a child.

Volunteers and representatives of local agencies will be available to inform parents of free and low-cost resources that provide social, medical and educational help to children, said the news release. Their efforts are part of the Ogden United Promised Neighborhood, and initiative to expand early intervention for at-risk children.

Sierra Smith is a Weber State University student who volunteered to help parents fill out questionnaires at the event last year.

A senior studying elementary and early childhood education, Smith said she saw parents become more prepared.

“I thought it made parents feel more secure about sending their children to school,” she said. “It helped them to see the milestones their children were achieving.”

The event was a way for WSU students to connect with parents in the community, Henke said.

“If the parents have any concern, the students can get them in touch with early intervention or their local education agency,” Henke said. “We will get them in touch with the district they are zoned for so they can be evaluated and perhaps get some special education help if needed.”

Activities will be located in the north end of the mall, near Burlington.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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