Fredericksburg Parent

May 2022

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26 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • May 2022 WRITTEN BY EMILY FREEHLING What if there were a 100 percent free activity that was guaran- teed to improve your child's social, emotional, cognitive and physi- cal development? You'd likely be sure to make room in your schedule for work this important, right? As it turns out, the activity that holds all of this potential isn't work at all, but the opposite—play. The late Fred Rogers of the show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" famously said, "Play is really the work of childhood." Play is important for children of all ages—and adults as well. But for children ages 0 to 3—the ages served by the Parent Education – Infant Development program (PE-ID)—play is foundational to the sequential building of muscle mass, social awareness and cognitive functioning that helps children stay on track developmentally. PE-ID is an early intervention program for children from birth to 36 months. The program, run through the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board, serves families in Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George counties, and the city of Fredericksburg. PE-ID's team of speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, early childhood education specialists and service coordinators works directly with parents and children in their homes to minimize developmental delays during the first three years of life. PLAY BUILDS A STRONG FOUNDATION "Play is the foundation for everything we do," says Kelly Lefler, Occupational Therapist with PE-ID. When a young child stacks blocks, bangs objects on different surfaces, or continually moves around every- day household objects, PE-ID's specialists see impor- tant brain- and muscle-building work under way. "One of the very first steps in play is imitation," says Suzanne Haskell, Speech Language Pathologist and PE-ID's Program Coordinator. "Imitation is a foun- dational skill that a child must develop before they can develop almost any other skill. Everything from motor skills to language—we learn all of this through imitation." The Power of Play Sponsored Material Early Intervention Experts Emphasize Play's Importance in Early Childhood Development "Play is really the work of childhood." - Fred Rogers

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