Head Start inform that…

Por Juan Carlos Dumas, L.M.H.C.*

Hispanic, Black, and Minority children in our country have NO DIFFERENCES with other children until they reach age 2. But then, our children show delays in intelligence, motor skills and speech from age 3 to age 5, and these shortcomings are hard to overcome throughout their school years. 

What is going on?

There are several reasons why minority children show these characteristics of delays or lower performance in terms of speech, motor skills (body movement, coordination, and writing) and applied intelligence. For example, when motherhood arrives at a very early age or in adolescence, the lack of resources and means, parents’ lack of time, adaptation problems if they are immigrants, having numerous children, the parents’ lack of schooling, or simply because parents believe that taking their children to school and the park is good enough. 

When the 2-year-old girl or boy is not stimulated enough by their parents or caretakers, a gap begins to develop between their skills and the performance of other children who receive more attention and stimulation from their caregivers.

These differences continue to widen with time, and these boys and girls begin to show a weaker development of intelligence, verbal, expressive, language and communication skills from age 3 to the rest of their school lives. They also show delays in other abilities and activities in and out of school. 

Solutions. What we can do.

Mothers, fathers, and primary caretakers of children at home can stimulate their children’s verbal, emotional, and intellectual development using the following simple steps:

• By reading books, telling tales and children’s stories frequently, at any time of the day or before going to sleep.  

• By having conversations about any topic of their interest throughout the day. 

• By inquiring about their children’s day and what they did in school, in Head Start, or Kindergarten.

• By paying attention to what children say or talk about.

• By asking for their opinion about different things including food, clothing, the activities they may do, etc.

• By treating them with affection and respect.

Many research studies about children have demonstrated that they improve their language, communication, and social skills if their parents and caretakers read them books, tell them stories and talk to them frequently when they are little?

It was also found that the language we use to read to and chat with our small children DOES NOT MATTER, but the frequency does.

So, read and talk to your children in any language, tongue or dialect, and they will improve their learning, even of English!

Children’s personality builds up especially from birth to the age of six…

Family, education, and environment are the most powerful forces that shape one’s personality…

Paying attention to our children IS a form of LOVE…

Television, telephones, and electronic games ARE NOT substitutes for parents and, in general, DO NOT teach anything useful to our kids…

There is nothing more educational than reading.

Useful Information for YOU

Near your home, anywhere you live in the city, there is a LIBRARY at your disposal. 

Public libraries offer many FREE services to the community, from books, magazines and publications that you can take home to movies, educational materials and computers that you can utilize in their premises, alone or with your children.

*Juan Carlos Dumas es psicoterapeuta, escritor y profesor universitario de la Long Island University. Consultor en Salud Mental para la Secretaría de Salud y Servicios Humanos, preside el Comité de Asesoramiento en Salud de North Manhattan y el Centro Hispano de Salud Mental en Queens, New York.