April and the Month of the Young Child

By ROXANNE ROWLEY
Guest Columnist

For several decades the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children, along with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, has designated April as the Month of the Young Child. The purpose of this designation is to spotlight public attention on the needs of young children and their families. It is also to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.

What a great time speak up for our smallest citizens and support programs that are essential to the development of our kids, like quality education, quality childcare, nutrition and healthcare.

The Month of the Young Child is an appropriate time to make a concentrated effort to contact our legislators and the state and federal levels about key issues important to the well-being of our children. This is especially important because little children have no political voice unless we as adults campaign for them. And sadly, one in four children in Michigan lives in poverty, according to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan. So making our voices heard as advocates for our children is more important than ever.

On the other hand, we adults can most certainly learn from little ones. Young children share qualities that make them lovable and unique. They have endless curiosity and creativity. Their energy is boundless. Little kids are daring and honest. They have enthusiasm to spare. Small children can also be compassionate and tender. We adults would do well to emulate even a few of those qualities. Seeing the world through the eyes of a young child can offer a different and fresh, even refreshing, point of view.

Throughout the year, but especially in April, there are many things we can do to celebrate the young children in our lives (and many cost very little or even nothing). Take a young child to the playground, visit a farm or zoo, enjoy a nature walk, plant some seeds in indoor containers for planting in the garden later on, play a rousing board game like Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders, read a favorite book with a little child snuggled up next to you, or just enjoy a fanciful conversation with a 4 or 5 year old. Time spent with a child is time well spent and time is one of the best gifts we can give our children.

Our children are the hope for upcoming generations. If we want our future to be bright and promising then we must invest in our children, so they reach their greatest potential. If we fail our kids, we all lose. And we just cannot afford to let that happen.

Roxanne Rowley is a retired early childhood educator and consultant. She enjoys writing and has had numerous articles published related to early childhood issues.

 

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