The AAP’s Council on Early Childhood and Council on School Health recently released a policy statement that supported pediatricians’ role in optimizing school readiness in children by identifying physical, emotional and social factors that can adversely affect performance in school.
“The National Education Goals Panel advocates for a broader concept of school readiness that includes not only children’s readiness for school but also schools’ readiness for children as well as the family and community supports and services that contribute to school success,” P. Gail Williams, MD, FAAP, from the AAP’s Council on Early Childhood Executive Committee, and colleagues wrote. “Thus, the responsibility for school readiness of the child lies not only with the child but also with the families, communities and schools that shape his or her development.”
The statement provided recommendations to pediatricians to promote school readiness in areas of physical well-being, social and emotional well-being and cognitive language development. In addition, pediatricians also should advocate for children who appear behind developmentally and report suspected child abuse, monitor and support children in foster home situations.
The AAP committee wrote that it supports or recommends:
- pediatricians promote optimal physical well-being in all their work surrounding health issues;
- pediatricians promote social–emotional well-being by establishing partnerships with their patients’ families to foster nurturing and positive learning environments;
- pediatricians share information on early brain development with parents to encourage early cognitive and language development in their children;
- pediatricians encourage parents to implement the “five Rs” of early childhood education (reading, rhyming, routines, rewarding and relationships) by recommending parents read to, rhyme, play, sing and talk with and cuddle their children;
- pediatricians identify children at risk for developmental disabilities or delays and advocate for early intervention therapies;
- that all children have access to high-quality education programs;
- funding for parent–child programs that encourage positive interactions and attachments for healthy social and emotional development;
- funding for community, state and federal programs offering satisfactory housing, health care, nutrition and safe play environments for young children; and
- and research in school readiness, including how it can be achieved and discussed with families.
“Pediatricians, in their role as medical home providers, have the opportunity to substantially influence school readiness,” Williams and colleagues wrote. “Not only do pediatricians address physical health concerns, but they are also uniquely suited to address developmental and behavioral health concerns of the child and family and to promote healthy relationships and interactions that encourage future resilience.” – by Kate Sherrer
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.