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Hurry! Limited Time!

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to talk with a few groups of teenage boys about parenting.  I asked them what the most important thing they wanted to give to their future children.  Throughout all the groups, the highest priority gift was the same.  Time.  Some of them had missed the opportunity to spend time with their parents, while others had the opportunity and valued it.  Research supports their idea that spending time with your children is one of the best things that a parent or caregiver can do to support their child’s development. 

So, why is the most important gift for children sometimes the hardest to give?  As a full-time mother with a full-time job, I am guilty of missing many opportunities to spend time with my children.  Let’s face it, life happens….so does laundry…..dishes…homework…sports activities…and they still need to be fed EVERY DAY!!  Sometimes, I get so caught up in the everyday tasks of life that the minutes fly by and I miss out. 


The good news is that these same every day tasks present the perfect opportunity for me to squeeze in extra minutes with my children.  By including my kids within these routines, I have the opportunity to spend time with them, teach them life skills, or just have some good conversations.  Most of the time, the best conversations with my boys happen while they have some other action to do.  (My boys are not of the “let’s sit down and talk” variety). 

Another suggestion is making quality family time a part of the daily routine.  In my house, dinner time is family time.  We try to sit down as a family every night.  No electronics or toys are allowed at the table and no one is allowed to answer the phone.  We each go around and tell our favorite and least favorite part of our day.  This can also works well with family breakfasts. Bed time stories are another way to make quality time a regular part of the day. 

Time is a valuable resource; once it's gone, you can never get back.  So hurry, childhood is a limited time offer!


Final thoughts:

Remember to consider what works best for you and your child!  If your child is having difficulty participating in play activities or you have concerns about his or her development, we can help!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

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Daddy Duties!

Please welcome Laura Shoaf of Healthy Families Rappahannock Area as our guest blogger for the week.  She is talking about "Daddy Duties".

Becoming a dad, whether it’s the first or the fifth time, is a BIG deal. An informal poll (I asked my daddy-friends) reveals that most guys were scared about something when they found out they were going to be a dad:


Now, imagine having all those fears but also facing your own struggles. Maybe you’re a teenager and you don’t know how you’re going to balance going to school with having a baby. Maybe your dad wasn’t in the picture when you were growing up and you’re not sure what it even means to be a dad. Maybe you and the baby’s mom are having problems and you’re trying to figure out how to stay involved in your child’s life. Becoming a dad might seem overwhelming. You might even feel like you can’t handle being a parent – that it’s just too much to deal with.

But don’t forget that dads are important! Study after study shows that children with involved fathers do better: they get higher grades, are less likely to live in poverty, are less likely to get into trouble with dangerous or unhealthy behaviors as teens (like alcohol, drug, or cigarette use), and have more self-confidence. And that’s just a few of the benefits!


Even though becoming a dad can be scary, it’s also wonderful. And there are programs right here in the Fredericksburg area that can help with those fears and make the transition to fatherhood easier. A few of the programs offered by the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board are listed below:

What if I don’t know how to take care of a baby?

Nobody (or at least nobody I know) knows everything about taking care of a baby at the beginning. Get involved with a parenting program. You’ll get some answers and you’ll realize that it’s ok to have questions.

Healthy Families Rappahannock AreaŸ 540-374-3366

A home visiting program for expectant or new parents, Healthy Families is a living, breathing parenting manual with information about parenting, child development, and community resources.


What if I’m not a good parent?

No matter what your own childhood was like, most of us have a picture in our head of the kind of parent we want to be. Whether you’re trying to live up to the model your own parents set for you or you’re trying to do things differently, learning about parenting skills and techniques can help.

DARE To Be YouŸ 540-374-3337

A series of interactive workshops, DARE To Be You helps families learn about communication, decision making, and problem-solving.

Program for Teen ParentsŸ 540-374-3337

Program for Teen Parents serves pregnant and parenting teens in Spotsylvania County, encouraging a healthy pregnancy and positive parenting.


What if something’s wrong?

As a parent, you know your child best. If you ever have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait to share those concerns. Acting early can make a big difference!

Parent Education - Infant Development  Ÿ 540-372-3561

The Parent Education – Infant Development program provides developmental screenings and evaluations and supports families in addressing developmental delays.


Need more?Contact 2-1-1Virginia to find information about additional programs or for help finding a service that meets your specific needs.

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Five Things I Learned From My Dad

In celebration of Father’s Day, I wanted to share with you some of the most important lesssons my dad passed on to me, which is a more fun way of saying that there are many important ways that fathers support their children's development  A father’s role is so central to their child’s development that it is difficult to mention all the ways that daddies help their children grow and learn.  So, I will just talk about 5 ways my dad supported me as a child.  As an adult, I know that his lessons supported my growth and development, but as a child, they were just fun!


Rough and tumble play:  I remember my dad making me fly like “superman”.  This simple activity supported language development by pairing words with actions, motor development by helping develop my balance reactions, sensory development through movement, and social development through interaction.  Most of all, it taught me that I did not have to be a boy to feel like a super hero!

Bedtime stories:  I remember my father’s voice as he melodically read all my favorite stories.  He exaggerated the  characters' voices and added excitement to each story.  I learned the names of the pictures, places, and objects in the books.  I learned that you read left to right and that you turn the pages one at a time.  I learned how to sit still and pay attention (most of the time).  The greatest lesson of all was that I was free to go on adventures knowing that I always have a safe spot to return.


Family dinners:  I remember sit around the table with my dad, mom, and siblings just about every night.  My dad worked full time, running his own business and being head of our family.  However, he set aside time every night for a family dinner.  Some of my favorite times were spent sitting around the table.  I learned to try a variety of foods and textures, eat with utensils, and to carry on conversations.


Fishing:  From as early as I can remember, my dad took me fishing.  Whether it was in a boat or off a bank, we would cast our lines into the water and I would reel in life’s lessons.  I learned water safety, respect for animals, and had a host of sensory experiences.  My fine motor skills were developed as I casted the line and baited the hook.  He modeled patience as time and again he had to help me get “unstuck” from a tree, bush, or bank.  Mostly, it did not matter if we caught any fish, Dad shared his interests and traditions with me. 

Time:  Most importantly, my father supported my development by sharing his time with me.  In the hustle and bustle of daily, time is the most valuable resource that a father can share with his child.  Play, stories, daily routines, or shared interests all support all areas of child’s development. 


Final thoughts:

As Father’s Day approaches, I would like to send a special thank you to all the dads out there!   Remember, we are here to help you if you have concerns about your child’s development!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

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What is “Early Intervention”? Does my child really need it?


May is Early Intervention Awareness month.  In my first throw back post, we talked about what to do if you have concerns about your child’s development.  So, what now?  You have started your journey towards addressing your concerns.  Your options are laid out as a road map and you have a destination or goal for your child.  But how do you get there?  There is more than one way to help support your child’s development.  Choosing the way that is the best fit for your child can get confusing at times.  This “throw back” blog talks about some options available to help support your child’s development.  All of these can be considered as part of your plan.  Your pediatrician may have some other suggestions depending on your child’s individual needs.  We will explore two of the most common recommendations for young children.


Early Intervention Services:

Who can access?  Part C Early Intervention Services are for infants and toddlers ages birth to three. 

What are they?  Services are provided in the child’s natural environments.  These can include the child’s home, playground, library, stores, or anywhere that your child spends his or her day.  All services are family-centered to address parent’s concerns, priorities, and goals.  Services can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, developmental services, and service coordination. 

What does a visit look like?  Early Intervention services are based on a parent-coach model.  The provider works with the family to identify and teach the caregiver strategies which can be implemented throughout daily routines and activities.  The primary focus is on empowering the family to build a “bag of tricks” to use to support the child.

What do these services cost?  Intake, assessment, and service coordination activities are provided at no cost to the family.  There is a fee for therapy services but no family is turned away based on inability to pay.  Sources of payment are insurance, Medicaid, Part C funds, sliding fee scale, or fee appeal.

Who do I call in Fredericksburg?  The Parent Education – Infant Development program is the local Part C Early Intervention provider.  Please visit or call (540) 372-3561.


Private-based, Medical Model Therapy Services

Who can access?  Each provider determines who can access services.

What are they?  Private therapy services are most often provided in a clinic or outpatient setting.  Services could include speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

What does a visit look like?  Most often, a parent brings the child to the clinic to meet with the therapist.  The therapist takes the child into another room to provide and practice techniques to address identified goals and developmental needs.  The therapist may or may not include the parent in the visit or provide a home program to practice between sessions.

What do these services cost?  The cost of these services depends on the provider.  Certain providers will bill private or public insurances and others do not.  Please talk directly with provider for more information. 

Who do I call in Fredericksburg?

Children’s Hospital of Richmond-Fredericksburg and Stafford locations

Helping Hands

Therapy Toolbox


Final thoughts:

Remember to consider what works best for your family!  No one type of therapy will work for every child or family.  The resources listed above are not mutually exclusive.  Your plan should fit your priorities, concerns, and resources!  If you need assistance with figuring out how to access the services above, we can help!  May is Early Intervention Month!  There is no better time to act than now!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Contact the Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

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Babies Can't Wait! Celebrating Early Intervention Awareness Month!

May is a celebration of Early Intervention Awareness Month!  I would like to take the opportunity to “throw back” to some early blog posts which talk about roads to take when you have concerns about your child’s development.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart!  On a good day, the job leaves us with more questions than answers.  During the birth to early childhood stage, many of those questions revolve around development.  Is my child sleeping and eating like he should?  Is he rolling over and moving like others babies?  Is she making enough sounds?  It is easy to get overwhelmed and become concerned.  You know your child better than anyone else! This is the first part of a three part series that talks about steps to take if you have concerns about your child’s development.  The first step is to know what you should expect to see from a child the same age as yours.  Check out the video or explore the developmental checklists below. 


Developmental Checklists:

CDC- Learn the signs.  Act Early:

Easter Seals On-Line ASQ:

Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia:

Parent Education –Infant Development Program of the RACSB:

Next Steps:

If you explored some of the developmental checklists and still have concerns, the next step is to contact your pediatrician or your local early intervention provider.  Your pediatrician will be able to offer another perspective, conduct a screening, or consider alternatives with you.  Talking with your pediatrician about your concerns may seem a little intimidating.  There are a variety of emotions you may go through before, during, and after this appointment.  It is OK to feel these emotions!  It can be helpful to have a plan to help you get the information you need and express your concerns clearly. 


Setting up the appointment:

Well-baby checks offer consistent opportunities to talk with your child’s pediatrician about developmental concerns.  Developmental screening questions are often included as part of this visit.  However, sometimes if you do not ask, you may not receive the information you need.  You may also find you have concerns between these visits.  I encourage you not to wait until your child’s next well-baby visit, if this happens.  Call and schedule an appointment. 

Before the appointment:

Write down information about your concerns.  Try to think of specific examples of your concerns.  (For example, “He does not seem like he hears me call his name, even when I am right behind him”).  If you completed a developmental checklist, include that with your information.  If you have the opportunity, record a video of your child that demonstrates your concern.  Your doctor may not see your specific concerns within the time frame of his or her interactions with your child.  Videos can be a helpful way to capture information.

Write down questions you have about development, concerns, etc.  Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to remember what questions have and have not been answered.  Taking a written list, can help you ensure that all information is gathered.  Bring an extra copy for the doctor as well. 

Consider what you would like to see happening moving forward to address your concerns.  Keep your options open but have an idea of what you would feel comfortable pursuing.

During the appointment:

Talk openly with your pediatrician about the concerns you have written down.  If he or she does not seem to be responding to your concerns, be persistent.  You are your child’s best advocate.  You are the expert on your child!  Do not accept “let’s just wait and see,” let your doctor know that your baby can’t wait!

Ask questions.  If you do not understand something your pediatrician has expressed, ask for clarification.  Pediatricians are not mind-readers, and may not know that you do not understand.

Develop a plan with your pediatrician for follow-up or access to resources.

After the appointment:

Follow-up with your plan of action. 

Re-visit your written list of concerns and questions.  Did you get all the answers you were looking for?  Do you understand the information provided?

Remember, it may not be easy to think about, discuss, or consider that your child may have a developmental delay.  Give yourself a break, too.  Talk with a family member or friend about your feelings and don’t feel bad if you need a little extra support through the process!


Final Thoughts:

May is Early Intervention Month!  There is no better time to act than now!  Remember, Babies Can’t Wait!  Please visit the Parent Education –Infant Development website at for more information about the program and services available. 


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About Brandie

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Join my blog to find early childhood developmental tips, tidbits, strategies, and activities to support children and families.   As a mother of multiple sons (18, 14, 8, 6, and 3), I know that life can be hectic, so all strategies and activities can fit in the context of daily routines and places families typically go.

I am enthusiastic about supporting families who have concerns about their child’s development and helping connect them to desired resources.

Pouches' Community Corner

Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area Splash EventMassadYMCA

For the past seven years, Smart Beginnings has thrown the Splash Pool Party fundraiser. This summer, the event will be held on June 24, 2018 from 6:30-9:30 pm at the Steve & Cheri Thurston Water Park at the Massad Family YMCA. Tickets range in price from $12 for a single ticket, $20 for couples and $35 for a family/group of four and each ticket also covers a hot dog, bag of chips and a drink.