Early Childhood Screening: What is it?
It’s not: An IQ test, a label, a diagnosis or placement test.
It is: a quick, simple check of children’s health and development; a means to identify possible health or developmental concerns that may need further evaluation; and an opportunity to connect families with resources in the community.
Best of all: it’s free!
Early Childhood Screening is a program the state of Minnesota is proud to offer through school districts like Edina Public Schools, to help ensure that all of our littlest learners have the resources they need to be on track for Kindergarten and beyond. In a typical screening session in Edina, families bring their child to the Early Learning Center for their appointment. A nurse and early childhood specialist check hearing, vision, and work with the student to complete a variety of developmental tasks to see how the child is developing and growing. “We work hard to make sure children feel comfortable and have fun,” says Tabitha Denison, Early Outreach Manager for Edina Early Learning Center. “From stacking blocks and standing on one foot to repeating sentences, kids are usually excited to show us what they know.” After about 45 minutes, the screening team meets with family to review results and offer any suggested resources. “It’s a state requirement that all students need to be screened before Kindergarten,” says Denison. “We can screen students any time between age 3 and Kindergarten entrance. But the ideal age is 3 years old, or as close to 3 as possible, because this gives us the most time to address any possible concerns.”
As you might imagine, screening looks a little different during a global pandemic. “We know that parents are not only a child’s first teacher, but are also great experts on their child,” says Leah Byrd, Early Learning Center Coordinator. “We have been able to develop a virtual screening experience that builds on that expertise, and still provides an opportunity to discuss development and opportunities for growth with early childhood specialists.” In the new virtual format, screening materials and questionnaires are sent to families, and at-home activities are completed to develop a comprehensive view of a child. After materials are evaluated by screeners, results are discussed during a virtual meeting with families. Parents have expressed their appreciation for the new process. “The screening process gave me some insight to the things I could be working on at home, as well as some new ways to engage with my child during these long days at home!” said one parent who recently completed the process.
Learn more about Early Childhood Screening on the MN Department of Education website. Ready to schedule your screening in Edina? Contact Tabitha Denison at 952-848-3985 or send an email to ECScreening@edinaschools.org.