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Reach Out and Read During Pediatric Checkups

Guest post by: Veronica Acevedo, PA-C,Lincoln Community Health Center (reshared from the NC Academy of Physician Assistants blog)

As a physician assistant, I, along with doctors and nurse practitioners, incorporate Reach Out and Read‘s evidence-based model into regular pediatric checkups, by advising parents about the importance of reading aloud, snuggling and making moments together. Reach Out and Read helps move primary care to a more comprehensive, two generation approach for child and family health. Trained medical providers use the book as a valuable tool for developmental surveillance and to have important conversations with parents, encouraging them to read aloud to their young children and offering age-appropriate tips.

At the Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, NC, Reach Out and Read happens at well-child visits, beginning at birth through the age of five. I provide families with “prescriptions to read” and they leave visits with a developmentally appropriate book.

We know when a caring adult in the life of a child pulls a little one into their lap to read, they are creating everyday moments that have the potential to positively impact the development of that child’s brain and as a result, impact their health, happiness and ability to learn. These early moments of a child’s life matter—and their impact can last a lifetime.

By interacting with and responding to a child, parents and caregivers are stimulating the neural connections that build the foundation of brain development – and a child’s future. In addition, these moments build family strengths and resilience, and support the healthy relationships families need. By changing the way families interact together with their children daily, we help develop strong parent-child bonds, buffer toxic stress and mitigate adversity.

Incorporating Reach Out and Read into my practice, gives me the opportunity to model positive interactive experiences during the well-child visit, strengthening parent-child relationships, and supporting children’s cognitive and social and emotional development.

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Choose books about events in your child’s life such as starting preschool, going to the dentist, or getting a new pet.