May 10, 2006 | By: Aimee Nielson

You can’t tell a child to go sit quietly and read while you go watch television, said Eammon FitzGerald of the Carnegie Center for Literacy. He was speaking to a group of Jessamine County parents of children from birth to five years, as well as some mothers-to-be, at the 2006 Parent Expo. 

FitzGerald was stressing the importance of early childhood literacy to the parent’s in attendance.

“There’s more to literacy than reading,” he said. “Literacy includes reading, writing, listening and speaking.”

FitzGerald was just one of many speakers at the Parent Expo, a new event designed to create awareness of local resources for parents of preschoolers.

“We used to have a baby safety shower around this time of year for pregnant mothers and mothers of babies,” said Marisa FitzGerald, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service agent for family and consumer sciences in Jessamine County. “We really wanted to expand our reach to mothers of children up to age five so we decided to have the Parent Expo instead.”

Speakers covered many relevant topics including early childhood literacy, selecting a childcare provider, qualifying for childcare assistance, sleeping issues, potty training and what to do before help arrives when emergencies occur. Participants watched demonstrations of infant and child CPR, as well as correct ways to respond if a child is choking. 

After lunch and many door prizes, Nicholasville police officers were on hand to offer free car seat installation checks. Statistics show that one in five car seats is not properly installed.

Parents and children in attendance engaged their minds and bodies through music during a sample class from MusikMatters instructor Kim Buckner. She said music has a power that goes beyond words and that research has shown that music has a special importance in enriching the development of children. She believes that children naturally relate to music and movement. With early exposure, we can generate learning through song, dance, play and performance, she said.

Marisa FitzGerald said Cooperative Extension partnered with the local health department, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Bluegrass Childcare Council, Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center and Babies ‘R Us to make the event broad-based and appealing to the county’s parents.

“We want to give parents tools to be the best parents they can be,” she said. “In Extension, we work with the total family. Parents shape the lives of their kids, so if we equip them, the community will be better for it.”


Marisa FitzGerald (859) 885-4811