Did you realize that nearly 5,000 of Johnson County’s 38,000 residents living in poverty are children age five and younger (U.S. Census Bureau)? Research has found that children born into low-income households heard roughly 30 million fewer words by the age of three than their more affluent peers. This word gap leads to an alarming achievement gap—in school and life— between poor children and those born into families with higher incomes.
The number of words a child hears from birth to age three has a direct correlation to his or her vocabulary upon entering kindergarten. Parents don’t always realize that they need to start talking to their babies early, long before the child is able to talk. Studies show that talking, reading and playing with a child every day is proven to increase that child’s brain development, vocabulary and self-esteem. Vocabulary is a key predictor of a child’s ability to succeed in school, and school success leads to positive outcomes within our community, greater high school graduation rates, more skilled and contributing citizens, and reduced reliance on government assistance.
Johnson County Government is partnering with The Family Conservancy, United Community Services of Johnson County (UCS) and cities and schools throughout our county to raise awareness of the need for parents and caregivers to Talk, Read, and Play with their child every day in an effort to create a brighter future for our entire community.
The Family Conservancy’s “Talk, Read, Play” early childhood educational campaign uses neuroscience studies about brain development in young children and simplifies it to a message every parent and caregiver can use to help support a child’s early development: Talk, Read, Play with your child every day.
To kick off the Week of the Young Child™, April 10–16, Johnson County Government and our aforementioned partners will hold a joint news conference on Monday, April 11 from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. at the Hiersteiner Child Development Center located at Johnson County Community College.
Follow #TalkReadPlayJoCo on Facebook and Twitter during the Week of the Young Child to join the conversation.
UPCOMING EVENTS FOR CHILDREN FIVE YEARS OLD AND YOUNGER
Note: all Olathe Library events listed will take place at the downtown location, as the Indian Creek location is closed until further notice due to a water main break.
Click here for a full listing of Olathe Library events.
RHYME TIME: For newborn to 24-month-olds with adult (tickets are handed out 15 minutes before program).
TODDLER TIME: For 2- and 3-year-olds with adult (tickets are handed out 15 minutes before program).
ON MY OWN STORYTIME: For 3- to 5-year-olds (tickets are handed out 15 minutes before program).
BABY BOOK EXPLORERS: For newborn to 24 months with adult (registration required)
Friday, April 22, 9:30 a.m.
Come to the library with your baby to read and play the "6 by 6" way! A board book will be shared with the whole group, after which you will have time to explore your own take-home copy of the book together. Each session will culminate with play as you and your baby engage in various activities and with sensory manipulatives. Older siblings are welcome to attend. Program will last about 45 minutes.
FISH TALES @ STAGECOACH PARK: For ages 5 & younger with adult (no registration required)
Friday, April 22, 9:30 a.m. at Stagecoach Park by the Olathe Community Center (1205 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe)
Come to Stagecoach Park by the Olathe Community Center for a free 30-minute storytime. The Olathe Public Library and the Olathe Community Center present a morning of stories, songs and play. In case of bad weather, the storytime will be held inside the community center (1205 E. Kansas City Road). For a small fee you can stay for a special Me & Mini Me Swim. For more information on this program please call the Olathe Community Center at 913-971-8563.
JOHNSON COUNTY LIBRARY
Johnson County Library has multiple events for young children each week at various locations, including storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers. Click here for a full list of all Johnson County Library 6 by 6 events.
HANDS-ON: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS
Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at multiple branches
This hands-on program is designed for all ages, focusing on the theme "Bear Witness." Participants will be encouraged to submit their work to a local writers' contest. Instructions and inspiration for several types of poems will be provided, including activities for young children.
STORYTIMES BY AGE GROUP
There are a variety of storytimes offered for baby, toddler and preschool age groups. See the events calendar on the jocolibrary.org for specific dates and times.
TALK, READ, PLAY EVENT
Friday, April 15, 5:30–7:00 p.m. at Spring Hill Elementary School
This FREE event encourages parents to “Talk, Read, Play” with their children to increase vocabulary and early literacy. Event activities are geared toward children 5 and under. Activities include reading stations, Ident-A-Kid, car seat checks, snacks, play stations, free books, information booths, and more.
CITY OF SHAWNEE
LITTLE SLUGGERS T-BALL CLINIC: For ages 4 to 6
April 19–May 10, Tuesdays at 4:00 p.m. at Stump Park Field #2
Registration fee: $30
This t-ball clinic will allow your little one to have fun and learn the critical skills to play baseball. We will focus on the very basic fundamentals of the sport, base running, hitting, catching, throwing, and most importantly sportsmanship. We will use developmentally appropriate equipment during this program to allow for a safe and fun environment. Parents and children attend.
HAPPY FEET SOCCER: For ages 2.5 to 6
May 4–May 25, Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. at Stump Park
Registration fee: $40
Build soccer skills through games and songs! The happy Feet play-based approach teaches healthy habits through soccer! Build confidence, learn soccer, and have fun! This monthly program runs year round, so grab your friends and get your happy feet kicking!
STRETCH N' GROW: For ages 2 to 5
April 22–May 20, Fridays at 11:00 am.
Registration fee: $50
It’s never too early to instill lifelong habits of fitness and exercise in your child’s life. By taking a holistic approach to children’s exercise through music, dance, and fun, your child will learn body awareness, focus, physical strength, and flexibility.