Parents As Teachers

Lee's Summit R7 School District

Just a reminder...

Sorry to say that winter is not over. If it snows or is icy, for the safety of our Parent Educators, please allow them to enter your home through your garage if you have not yet shoveled your steps. Also, please leave your front porch light on!

Thank you!

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The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines for safe sleep. These guidelines include the recommendation that babies under 6 months, and preferably up to one year of age, should sleep in the same room as their parents. This represents a new effort to reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as research shows that sharing a room with parents can reduce SIDS by up to 50 percent. We also know that babies need to sleep on their backs for safety! The article below highlights the information for safe sleep practices.

PAT Services Spotlight

There are many components of the Parents As Teachers Program. This month we will highlight developmental screenings. All children 3 months to Kindergarten entry that are enrolled in Parents As Teachers are offered a developmental screening each school year. After the age of three, we offer screenings for all children in the Lee's Summit School District. This includes a health portion as well as the developmental portion. We know that children's skills and abilities are rapidly changing during these crucial early years and monitoring of their development helps the parents and parent educator guide the foundation of learning. We want all children ready to learn! Talk to your parent educator about screening options for your child.

Kindergarten Screening or Dial Screening - what's the difference?

It is confusing.

There are screenings offered through Parents As Teachers and then there are screenings through your Elementary School before your kiddo starts Kindergarten. Which one should you do? Should you do both?

You should do both. These two screenings have different purposes.

Kindergarten Screening in LSR7:

The Kindergarten screening conducted in May is a general school readiness screening. The information is used to look at student strengths and informs placement of your student into a classroom. At the Kindergarten screening, you will learn about the first quarter kindergarten learning targets. This screening will take place in your child's neighborhood school after they have enrolled in Kindergarten. Watch for more information on Kindergarten enrollment this spring.

DIAL Screening in LSR7:

The DIAL-4 is a standardized instrument that is used to screen children three to six years of age. Data from the DIAL-4 is used to describe the strengths and needs of young children in five areas of development: motor, concepts, language, self-help, and social-emotional. The DIAL also includes a speech/hearing screening administered by a Speech Pathologist, as well as a vision screening. This screening is done at the Great Beginnings Early Education Center and can be done once a year from ages 3 years to Pre-Kindergarten. To schedule a DIAL screening please call 986-2486.

Focus on Fine Motor….so much more than just writing

Fine motor skills are the manner in which we use the small muscles to control our fingers, hands and arms. These skills are important for your child to be independent and successful in school and life. Fine motor skill development begins at birth. A child with poor fine motor skills will struggle to complete tasks such as turning pages in a book, writing, cutting, using a fork or spoon, stringing beads, manipulating puzzles pieces, zipping, buttoning and tying shoe laces. Children who struggle with these activities may feel frustrated and their self-esteem could suffer if they can’t keep up with their peers.

0-4 months: Child will use their arms and hands to bat at objects. Between 2-3 months a child will begin to reach for objects and hold them. Their grasp is a reflex, so they won’t be able to purposefully release objects they are holding.

4-12 months: Child gains more control over arms and will start to reach with one hand at a time. By 6 months they will begin to pick up small items like raisins with a raking grasp. They will start to transfer items from hand to hand and voluntarily release objects. At 12 months they will make marks with crayons and markers, stack rings and blocks, turn thick pages in a book and roll a ball.

1-2 years: Sitting balance will improve so they can sit unsupported and use their arms and hands for play. Both hands should still be used equally, hand preference will not emerge until closer to 2 years. Child will start to move fingers independently of each other. They will start poking bubbles and pointing to objects. They will color using their whole arm in a fisted position. They will develop a true pincer (thumb and pointer finger) grasp to pick up small items.

2-3 years: A hand preference will start to emerge, but not become fully dominant yet. The child will be able to hold items with one hand and manipulate them with the other. Coloring will move to vertical lines, horizontal lines and circles. By age 3 they should be able to grasp scissors and snip paper. Grasp of writing utensils begins to evolve to a pronated (thumb and pointer finger toward paper) grasp. They will start placing pegs in a pegboard and completing simple puzzles.

3-4 years: Hand preference continues to develop, but switching continues. Child should stabilize paper with non-drawing hand when coloring. Grasp should be evolved to using fingers on the writing utensil. Child should be cutting forward across paper and cutting on lines. They will start to manipulate clothing zippers. They will begin to dress and undress themselves. They will refine their eating skills and use utensils. They will begin to remove and place lids on containers.

4-5 years: Child starts to use more refined wrist and finger movement and less whole arm movement. Hand dominance is established between 4 and 6 years. Child should be using a 3 finger grasp of writing utensils. Child should begin cutting out simple shapes with scissors held in a thumb up position. Child should be able to copy circle, cross and square. They will begin to button and unbutton clothing.

Providing a variety of opportunities is important to help your child develop and master fine motor skills.

Birth to One year:

  • Encourage looking from one toy to another using floating toys during a bath.

  • To promote early reaching, tap your baby’s hand with a toy to encourage reaching.

  • To promote reaching with both arms, nuzzle your baby’s tummy with your face to encourage touching your head with both arms, use plastic sunglasses to promote your baby to reach and pull off.

  • Encourage purposeful release of objects. During a bath, drop toys in water to make a splash. While seated in a high chair, use cereal (Cheerios or Rice Krispies) to encourage grasping and releasing a handful. Or do the same with ice cube or bits of ice (coldness may promote release).

  • Put objects into a container, take or dump them out, and do it again. Using a container, such as a bowl, soup pot, plastic coffee can, small bucket etc. gives the baby a surface on which to rest her wrist and then successfully release the toy. The added fun of seeing it disappear and reappear, and the different sounds made add to the excitement.

  • Using toys of different shapes and sizes will help her continue to adjust her grasp and will also help the development of the arches in her palm.

  • If your baby is ready for first finger foods, allow her to try to pick them up from her high chair tray and get them to her mouth to promote and improve pincer grasp skills.

  • When spoon-feeding baby, give him a spoon of his own to hold onto. You could also give him a teething ring to hold, and dip it in his baby food so he can try “feeding himself” that way too.

  • Offer a variety of small infant toys to explore. Using toys that have different shapes, colors, sounds, and textures will help her learn to adjust her grip and explore ways to make them move.

  • Try offering two different toys at the same time, holding them apart from each other. Baby can choose one of them at a time and begin to learn how to hold and manipulate objects.

  • Help the baby bring hands together, so she can feel and explore toys.

One year and Beyond:

  • Play-dough has been a childhood favorite for decades. Not only is it downright fun, but handling play-dough also develops some important skills. Squeezing and stretching it helps strengthen finger muscles, and touching it is a valuable sensory experience.

  • Using finger paint can strengthen your child’s hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. All you need is an easel or a thick piece of paper, some finger paints and a space—get messy!

  • Set up two separate bowls, one filled with water and the other empty. Give your child a sponge and have her soak it in one bowl. Then have her squeeze the water out of the sponge into the other bowl. This simple game strengthens hands and forearms. It’s especially fun if you throw in some bubbles.

  • Difficulties with fine motor skills can make it tough to grip a pencil. Coloring with small, broken crayons encourages your child to hold the crayon correctly—between her thumb and forefinger. Small pieces of chalk and the pencils used on mini-golf courses work well, too.

  • Stringing together necklaces is a great way for your child to be creative while working on her hand-eye coordination and developing her ability to manipulate objects. To start, give her thick string and big beads or large pieces of dry pasta. Over time, she can work on more complex designs using smaller pieces.

  • Tear newspaper into strips and then crumple them into balls. Use the balls of paper as stuffing for scarecrows, puppets, or other art projects.

  • Scrunch up one sheet of paper in one hand—great for building strength!

  • Push golf tees into foam to make a pattern and increase strength.

  • Stringing beads on a pipe cleaner is a great way to work on fine motor skills.

  • Cut plastic straws into small pieces, about 1-inch. Cutting the straws is great fine motor activity for kids. Tie yarn to a plastic needle, or use plastic laces. String the straws onto the yarn or lace.

From Our Librarian

Book ideas for February

Bear’s Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson

The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss

Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony

That’s (Not) Mine by Anna Kang

That’s (Not) Small by Anna Kang

Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton

Time for Bed by Mem Fox

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherry Duskey Rinker

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse

Make Your Own Bead &Glitter Slime at Home - DIY Heart Glitter Slime-Goo-Gak Kid's Crafts

Simple things parents can do at home to encourage math

Put measuring cups and spoons in the bathtub for play.

Use a growth chart or scale to measure a child’s height/weight.

Let a toddler put money in a piggy bank (good for fine motor skills, too).

Sort laundry together.

Sort toys into their correct containers.

Upcoming Events

Infant Massage

Wednesday, Feb. 15th, 10-11am

905 Bluestem

Lee's Summit, MO

To sign up click this link:

*Please note that the map may not give accurate directions. You may wish to map it yourself. Our address is Great Beginnings Early Education Center, 905 NE Bluestem Drive, Lee's Summit MO 64086. We are located across the parking lot from Legacy Park Community Center.

HyVee KidsFit

Wednesday, March 1st, 10-11am

905 Bluestem

Lee's Summit, MO

To sign up click this link:

*Please note that the map may not give accurate directions. You may wish to map it yourself. Our address is Great Beginnings Early Education Center, 905 NE Bluestem Drive, Lee's Summit MO 64086. We are located across the parking lot from Legacy Park Community Center.

Parent Tip:

STEAM Activity: You may start to see activities in newsletters titled: “STEAM” which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math.” These activities integrate some or all the subject areas together into an often open-ended, hands-on, exploratory activity. This teaches our preschoolers problem solving, creativity, inquiry, collaboration with each other and critical thinking skills. See the handout attached that explains STEM (the previous name for the concept before Art was added in) and learn some ways you can incorporate STEAM activities with your children at home!


Tuesday, March 14th, 5-7:30pm

905 Bluestem

Lee's Summit, MO

For more information, click here:

*Please note that the map may not give accurate directions. You may wish to map it yourself. Our address is Great Beginnings Early Education Center, 905 NE Bluestem Drive, Lee's Summit MO 64086. We are located across the parking lot from Legacy Park Community Center.