Reading with your 0–12 month old child

Reading is an important step in your child’s developmental process. From motor skills (pointing with finger, turning pages, flipping book over) to cognitive and language learning, reading with your child is a great activity, starting at any age.

How do children react with books from 0-3 years old?

  • 0-6 months: May calm down while a familiar story or rhyme is read.
  • 6-8 months: May begin to explore books by looking, touching, and mouthing. May seem fascinated by a particularly bright picture.
  • 9-11 months: May have a favorite picture—for example of a smiling baby or a familiar-looking object.
  • 12-18 months: May begin turning pages or holding a book as if she is “reading.” May begin saying the word “book” and/or showing a preference for a specific book at bedtime.
  • 24-36 months: May begin anticipating the story. For example, while reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears, your toddler may say, “Just right!” as soon as he sees the picture of Goldilocks spooning up her porridge. She may also request the same story over and over and may pretend to read books on her own or tell you simple stories.**

How soon should I start reading with my child?

“…children who are read to consistently when they are young end up doing better in school.”

-Elizabeth Moore, MD pediatrics

It’s never too early to start. Research has shown that reading to your baby in the womb is linked to early literacy and language skills. Even without the ability to talk, your child is learning about the world around them. Find board books and soft cloth books that your child loves, and can safely play with, chew on, and read with you. With these sturdy books, your child is safe to play with them as they please. No need to worry or say “no”. Let them explore in their own little way.

What if my child isn’t interested when I read to them?

Start building a routine in your everyday life. Use a story, song, or rhyme at bedtime. Make up songs and rhymes when playing or driving in the car. Your kid will begin to love the power of words and sounds. Always be on the lookout for signs and words you can point to and say aloud. Make sure you have books accessible for your child to play and interact with. Don’t force them to read, let them learn on their own terms. You don’t want negative feelings towards reading at their young age.

What if my baby just wants to play with the book?

Their chewing and mouthing are showing you how much they like books. That is how babies explore, with their senses. Chewing and mouthing is normal and is teaching your baby the shape of the book. Books are bright and colorful and are very interesting to a young mind. Your baby is learning all about these square things, full of pictures and sounds.

Article adapted from

** Milestone date from

Top 12 moments of 2022


Kris Evans receives Division of Early Childhood Award

Our very own Kris Evans, who has been with us for 16 years, was awarded the Division of Early Childhood Mentorship award! Kris was flown to Chicago to accept the prestigious and well-deserved award in person.

What mentees say about Kris:

“Kris is a patient and caring mentor, that pushes her mentees to excellence, while helping them feel empowered and confident in their own skill set. She is always eager to answer questions and help-out, no matter how simple or difficult the task may be.”

Kris exemplifies the dedication and service that all of us here at Root for Kids strive for. Congratulations, Kris!

San Juan County Early Intervention contract is granted to Root for Kids

On July 1st, Root for Kids was awarded the contract to San Juan County’s Early Intervention program. This Early Intervention program has served San Juan County for over 30 years. Early Intervention provides services to children who are showing developmental delay or who have a condition strongly linked to developmental delay, such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy or Autism. Jurea Ben, Tymra Butt and Lacey Haas are our new team representatives for Root for Kids at our office Blanding. We couldn’t be more honored to have this opportunity to help the families and expand our reach in Southern Utah. 

Jordane Bromley earns Bachelor of Science in Nursing and oversees Early Head Start pregnant women

Jordane started with us 8 years ago as a home visitor, soon after she moved to the health services as a health services assistant. Just last September, Jordane graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. In her new position, Jordane oversees all Early Head Start pregnant women. Root for Kids is excited to have another RN on board and would like to congratulate Jordane once more on her dedication and accomplishments.

Bloom and Grow completes successful first year

First pregnancies can be a difficult journey on your own. Helping young pregnant mothers has been on the docket here at Root for Kids for a while. We had seen similar programs up in Salt Lake City having success and knew that it was something that needed to be available down here in our ever-growing population. With the help of a grant from our friends at Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle and our Registered Nurses, we were able to start a bi-weekly program. We are happy to be a guiding light for these young parents and are thrilled to see support of the program in our community. If you or anyone you know would like to know more about our Bloom and Grow program, fill out a form here.

Celebrated 20 year partnership with Utah Tech Dental Hygiene Program

In 2022 Root for Kids and Utah Tech University Dental Hygiene Program celebrated 20 years of community partnership. Many families’ lives have been changed by the dental hygiene clinic and the mobile clinic. We see patients from the community who often lack resources to receive proper preventive care so having the dental hygiene facility and students is a huge benefit to our families. We are very grateful for Utah Tech Dental Hygiene Program’s continued support.

A successful 7th Annual Radiothon

The holiday spirit continues to be in full bloom here at Root for Kids! Canyon Media Broadcasting sponsored this year’s annual holiday fundraiser and diaper drive. We couldn’t be any happier with our awesome turnout. Santa, hot chocolate, games, and holiday cheer were on full display. Financial contributions and diapers were donated, helping countless families in the community.

The Secret Garden Gala returns

This was the first year we held our Secret Garden Gala at the Dixie Convention Center’s Garden Room. The location proved to be a perfect for us, where we were able to accommodate a record number of guests over the unforgettable night of glamour and heart. After our awards ceremony, Fred Walker and Tyler Hunsaker, our returning MC’s, ran our live auction with the enthusiastic crowd. Maddie’s Dance Group brought smiles to all our guests faces with their heartfelt performance that closed the night out. Thank you to our presenting sponsor of the evening, Litehouse, Inc. Their continued support has provided financial support to family services in our community. For those interested in attending this year’s Gala, event info can be found here.

V Lowry Snow accepts Debbie Justice Award.

2nd Annual Glow in the Dark Golf Tournament in full swing

We held our Annual Glow in the Dark Golf Tournament at the Coral Canyon Golf Course for the second year! Raffles, food, drinks, and competition aplenty was on display in full neon glow. Guests started the day off playing 9 holes in the sun, followed by a dinner break. After that, the moon was out, and the game turned into a Glow-in-the-Dark competition. It was a fun and hilarious time had by all, where teams learned the true meaning of “taking a shot in the dark.”

Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament | Root for Kids

Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament | Root for Kids

The first Cornhole Tournament hits the target

Our friends at TDS and Tru by Hilton approached us about a new fundraiser and event, which became our first Cornhole Tournament. The afternoon was filled with friendly competition between local businesses and beanbag tossing enthusiasts. Coupled with a delicious lunch, our first outing with the Cornhole Tournament was a great success. With that success, we are pleased to announce that our 2nd Annual Cornhole Tournament will be on March 24th. Teams are sold out, but you can join us as a spectator! Enjoy lunch with us and cheer on your favorite local business! Register here.

Early Head Start goal achieved

One of the most important parts of our Early Head Start grant is an in-kind donation goal. These donations include items donated and volunteer hours worked. Reaching this goal is a major success for us, proving that our presence in the community as a place to volunteer with is having an impact. If you (or a group) would like to volunteer with us. Contact Elizabeth Santana here.


Stefani Watson, 15 years of service

Stefani Watson, Utah School for the Deaf and Blind Audiologist, visits Root for Kids twice a month to provide comprehensive hearing screenings for enrolled children. 15 years ago, Stephani randomly stopped by our office to see how she could help, asking us for a need to fill. Now, 15 years later, she has provided hearing assessments to hundreds of children in our community. She goes above and beyond to see families. Whether it’s after hours, a last-minute notice or a home visit, she makes sure referrals are done. Stephani also provides yearly training to our staff. We are thankful for her 15 years of service with us.

Stefani provides yearly training for all staff on pediatric audiology

Kallie Stewart receives 30 in Their Thirties award

Every year, St George Area Chamber of Commerce honors dynamic young professionals who are taking their business or organization in Southern Utah to a new level with the 30 in Their Thirties Award. Last year, our very own Monica Jones received the prestigious award, and this year was a Root for Kids streak with Kallie Stewart being honored. Kallie works tirelessly as our Early Head Start Director, overseeing hundreds of families, pregnant young mothers, and a team of support specialists. We couldn’t be happier with the Chamber’s choice, as Kallie truly is an exceptional individual in our community.

Root for Kids 2nd Annual Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament

Root for Kids 2nd Annual Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament was a Hole- in- One! With over 140 players and 120 volunteers, this was our biggest Tournament yet.

Read below how it all came together.

The gorgeous Coral Canyon Golf Course hosted us for the second year in a row. Players began showing up at 1:00 PM for check in and the games began with a shotgun start at 2:30 PM. The golfers played 9 holes of regular daytime golf, before returning for a 5:00 dinner. Coral Canyon provided our players with an amazing barbequed pulled pork dinner. Nothing Bundt Cake for dessert (one of our generous sponsors) treated our players to one of their scrumptious Bundtinis.

Golfing with Glow

After dinner, the golfers lined up and were off to a second shotgun start for their final 9 holes at 6:30 PM. The carts were decorated, players were dressed head-to-toe in glow merch, and the luminosity from the glow course was sublime.  Golf is a difficult sport in the daytime, let alone in the dark. Shenanigans were had, hilarity and humility ensued, as golfers tried their best to hit glowing golf balls at the nighttime targets. Some golfers were witnessed reverting to poolhall rules getting the balls in the hole.

The Winners

The ACE of Kings were our Men’s division winners, with players Ryan Baeza, Mike Vesagas, Marcas Sanders, and Tyson Mendez. Jeff Smith Construction won our Co-ed division, with players Jeff Smith, Cyla McBride, Nihoa Kanohi and Sydnee Sabaitis. Congratulations to our winners!

The Raffle

Raffle winners were announced right after the team winners. Our raffle and prize items this year were simply awesome. A two-night stay at Cliffrose Lodge in Zion Park went to the lucky winner of the “Hit the Glow Target.” Gift baskets, gift certificates, Hybrid Light packages and Zion Wildflower Resort stays were only a few of the gracious raffle items that went home with lucky Tournament participants.

The Sponsors

We can’t finish this recap without thanking our generous sponsors for this year’s Tournament. Zach and Whit Photography were our Gold Sponsor, whom players saw all around the course capturing the excitement throughout the day. We thank all our amazing sponsors who made the 2nd Annual Root for Kids Glow-in-the-Dark Tournament possible.

The Volunteers

We would like to thank our Volunteers for their hard work setting up and taking down the golf course, and everything in-between. We had over 120 volunteers ranging from Utah Tech’s Women’s Basketball, DSU Nursing students to former employees of Root for Kids and friends from the community. Thank you volunteers, you made the day run smoothly!

Bloom and Grow Support Group for Teen and Young Parents

We are very excited to announce that we have started Bloom and Grow support group for teen and young parents, here at our Root for Kids St. George location.  

What is Bloom and Grow? 

Bloom and Grow will provide young expecting parents and new parents a place to come and learn about the road ahead in a safe and empathetic environment. The sessions will be led by onsite Registered Nurses who specialize in early childhood development. Presenters from the community will also be invited to share their knowledge and expertise on specific topics. The classes are free and open to residents of Washington County. 

Why Bloom and Grow? 

“For every one thousand girls age 15-19 in Washington County, about 13 of them will become a parent. Research has shown that having a child in adolescence is associated with long-term difficulties for the mother and her child. Teen parents can feel very isolated, and it may be difficult for them to find resources that are helpful to them. Our main goal is to offer parents a safe place to ask questions, and to give them tools that will empower them to be the very best parents they can be,” said Megan Eads, Root for Kids Pediatric Registered Nurse. “We have seen the success of similar programs in other areas of Utah and want to give the same opportunity to the teen parents in our community. Everything we do at Root for Kids is aimed at helping children and families reach their greatest potential, and we know this program will do just that for these young parents and their children.” 

What specifically do you learn? 

Topics that may be discussed at the Bloom and Grow meetings include exercise and nutrition, what to expect during and after pregnancy, women’s health, baby care, infant massage, CPR, attachment, bonding, family planning, and more. This group is a great place for young parents to connect with other parents. It will be a safe place for parents to ask questions and learn about the many resources available to them and their children in our community. Healthy food will be served at every class. Participants will receive free gifts for themselves and their child. 

Who is this open to? 

The classes are open to all teens and early twenties parents.  

When are Bloom and Grow classes available? 

The classes are available starting now. Classes are held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at Root for Kids 2044 S Mesa Drive. from 4:30-6:00 PM.  

If you know someone who may benefit from the Bloom and Grow Teen Parenting Class, fill out our referral form here or give us a call at (435) 673-5353, ext.107.

Thank you.

Bloom and Grow would not be possible if not for Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle for giving us our foundational funding. We thank them for their generous support.

Who are we? 

Root for Kids (previously known as The Learning Center for Families) is a non-profit organization located in Southern Utah that provides services for children and families in need of extra support. We help families create a nurturing environment for optimal growth and development for each child. Since 1993, Root for Kids has served over 16,000 families through Early Head Start, Early Intervention and Parents as Teachers home visiting programs, and Kindermusik classes, in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. Root for Kids also provides Early Intervention services in San Juan County, Utah. All services are based on eligibility and are provided at no cost* to the families. 

*Income eligibility for some programs is waived for families under 180% of Federal Poverty Guidelines or who have other extreme special circumstances. Applications for services are taken at any time as our programs are offered year-round. **Data from 2016-2017 Annual Report. See full report. Root for Kids does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, color, race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, political belief or disability. Transportation reimbursement is provided to assist families with program participation.



Returning to an in-person event after our 2020 virtual edition was a big task to ensure the safety of ourselves and our guests. Couple that with record breaking attendance, and the task became monumental. However, with the help of many volunteers and our staff, we managed to make a safe and unforgettable evening at the Dixie Convention Center where good times were had by all.

The Secret Garden Gala 2022 took place on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Dixie Convention Center with the support of 21 sponsors and 275 guests. This was our first year at the new venue, as we had outgrown our previous spaces. The new accommodations proved to be essential for the spirited silent and live auctions, raffle, catered dinner and main program- with some very special guests. See how The Secret Garden Gala 2022 came to life.

The Main Program

At 5 PM we began our social hour and started the silent auction. Dinner was served soon after, and Tyler Hunsaker and Fred Walker, our returning Emcees, welcomed the crowd. We were then offered an insightful message from our past Board President, Dr. Ellen Arch. Our annual awards followed afterward and led right into a very special video about our work here at Root for Kids, which you can watch here. As if emotions weren’t running high enough after that, we then had a special performance by Madi’s All Star Dance Group that brought absolute joy to the audience. Closing the night, an absolutely raucous live auction that raised money for our enrolled families at Root for Kids.


 The Awards

We couldn’t be more honored to recognize our award winners for The Secret Garden Gala 2022:

  • Outstanding Community Partner: Associated General Contractors
  • Outstanding Business: InfoWest
  • Outstanding Health Partner: Jeremy & Laurie Scholzen
  • Outstanding Volunteer: Dixie State University Nursing Program
  • Outstanding Donor: Larry R Hansen
  • Debbie Justice Legacy Award: US Representative, V. Lowry Snow

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the continued and enduring support you give to support our mission at Root for Kids. 



Our Generous Sponsors

A special thank you to our platinum and presenting sponsor, Litehouse. The generosity of their donation provided us with an incredible foundation to build on for the funds we raised the evening of the gala. We enjoyed having representatives from Litehouse join us on-stage in recognizing our annual community award winners. It means so much to have Litehouse as a donor, a friend and proponent of our mission since 2018. 

We had 21 amazing sponsors supporting The Secret Garden Gala 2022, and the event wouldn’t have been the success that it was without their contribution. Stephen Wade Auto Center, John A Gullo and Family and the Hurst Wood Education Foundation were our gold sponsors. Snow Jensen & Reece Attorneys at Law and Watts Construction were our silver sponsors.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank these generous businesses in our community:

Litehouse representatives present Utah State Representative V Lowry Snow with the Debbie Justice Legacy Award.


A Huge Thanks

We had some massive help making the event such a successful night. Our friends Fred Walker and Tyler Hunsaker served as the emcees for the night, providing lively commentary and some big laughs. Leslie and Ralph from the Dixie Convention Center coordinated and decorated our event flawlessly. Kris Archer from Bougie Balloons added some serious flair by bringing in ornate balloons and décor for display. And finally, our staff who worked tirelessly up to the last minute. Everyone who worked behind the scenes made the Garden Room picturesque from floor to ceiling and deserves a huge thanks!

What’s Next?

Our 2nd annual Glow-in-the-Dark Golf Tournament is right around the corner, happening on Friday, October 21, 2022. Golfers will enjoy 18 holes of golf, 9 holes during the day and 9 holes after sunset. Golfer can purchase mulligans and raffle tickets, and will enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner and a bag of glow in the dark swag.

If you are interested in taking part, we will be putting tickets on-sale soon. If you are interested in sponsoring our event, please contact Monica Jones at or at (435) 673-5353.

Parents and policies can affect how a child thrives

Deseret News

March 4, 2022

A recent article in the Deseret News shares a recipe for cultivating strong children with better opportunities for a great future. The recipe includes advice and tips for parents, communities and policy makers to help give children the best possible head start in life.


How Parents and Policies play a role in helping young kids thrive.

Children that live in a loving two parent home that are provided for both physically and mentally have a better chance at an easier life. Kids in these homes are more likely to have adequate shelter, creative outlets, quality family time and unconditional love which increases their odds of having a successful life. 

Cynthia Osborne, a professor of  Early Childhood Education and Policy at Vanderbilt University says that these vital gifts from parents are not enough for kids to thrive. Osborne says society needs to provide gifts also, that include family friendly policies that help children to excel in their environment.  Osborne believes that policies that help families, especially those that are struggling, are both generous and self-serving if one believes that children are a societal gift and they will repay any investments made to them. She goes on to say, “children will shape our country’s economy, entrepreneurial landscape and competitiveness; they will drive the future workforce and policies”.

Working moms and child care subsidies

Every child needs a stable home, health care, food and safety as the foundation for their well-being. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation children also need other protections, including proven policies to aid families with very young children, especially families with economic and other challenges. These protections will help to ensure a great future for children. 

Osborne knows that getting a child’s early years (prenatal to 3) right, is very important, because it will predict a lifetime of health and well-being. During this very young age children begin to develop their sense of self, they grow confident or fearful depending on their circumstances and they form relationships that will help to shape further relationships in their lives. Every child should have the opportunity to be born healthy and raised in a stable, nurturing and stimulating environment with limited exposure to adversity. 

The article references research which states that in order for babies to be successful from the very onset, their parents need resources and skills to help them nurture their babies. Prenatal care is one resource that helps parents get ready to have healthy babies. Other resources include policies and strategies to help states attain well-child goals.

The 2019 Bureau of Labor Services report indicates 6 out 10 women are working moms with school-age children, these moms are working due to economic necessity.  Researchers are trying to help working moms by advocating for affordable quality health insurance and a liveable wage. Four states have implemented these policies to help families (California, Washington D. C., Maryland and New Jersey) with subsidized child care so kids are safe while their parents are at work or in school. These states offer comprehensive screenings, connections to programs if needed, home visit programs, early head start, early intervention programs and prenatal care. 

The article emphasizes the importance of child care by saying if parents do not have a safe, affordable and quality daycare option, then parents may not be able to work as a means to provide a better life for their children.

Osborne goes on to say, “We’re paying a lot of attention to implementations because just having a policy on the books if no one is using it, if it’s not generous enough, if it’s difficult to access, may not be as effective. You may not be getting the returns that you would be expecting or making the impact on well being.”

Strong Child Development Goals

The number of people that understand the importance of the 0-3 year range is increasing, but currently there is very little guidance to help improve outcomes for this age group, says Osborne. 

The Vanderbilt University Prenatal-to-3 Impact Center is not only focusing on child development but also prioritizing healthy births, access to services, physical and emotional health of parents, a parents ability to work and working on a strong parent-child relationship. 

Osbourne claims that the needs of children cross all income levels but policies usually target the socioeconomic disadvantages of children of color and of those of lower socioeconomic status. Those families are less likely to have a stable income or access to paid time off for things such as family illness or bonding with a very young child. The fact is that higher-income households are more likely to get the help they need while middle class families are stuck between having too much or not enough. 

How States Help Their Families

According to Osbourne, many states have already independently taken steps to help families. Some states are investing substantially in childcare and expanding eligibility for subsidies, which in the long run increases the size of the workforce. Other states have implemented paid family leave for working families and others will raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

Boosting Fertility

The birth rate in America has decreased, many experts believe it’s due to the cost of child care. With the threat of having smaller new generations and economic stagnation, there are child care subsidies which could help. There are many different financial challenges that will make couples either not have children or prolong the occurrence, this is a concern for policymakers because delaying or foregoing having children has significant consequences to society. The 2021 American Family Survey found that 17% of the people surveyed said if they could get child benefits from the government, their willingness in having a child or more children would increase.  

Osborne says, when investing in early intervention programs, children are better prepared to attend school, the rate of child retention in school decreases as does the need for special education funds. Investing in parents’ ability to work will financially increase how a parent is able to provide for their children which decreases the need for government assistance. 

In closing Osbourne says, “What I wish is that policymakers could understand that there are both immediate and long-term benefits to investing in young children and their parents’ in terms of cognitive development, in learning and socioemotional development and physical health. And those benefits last a lifetime.” 

We maintain the best way to cultivate strong, healthy, successful children is through collaboration with parents, communities and policymakers. It is essential that we invest in parents and their children when they are young to ensure optimal growth in our investments. We must share the understanding that an early investment in children and their families is an investment in them but also an investment in ourselves, our communities, our economy and our country.