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The Importance of Developmental Screenings for the Early Years

What is Developmental Screening?

The first five years of your child’s life are the most important years for physical, emotional, and cognitive development. The more you know about their development, the more you can help them get the best possible start. It’s also important to be aware if there are any delays in development, because the earlier delays are identified, the sooner they can be addressed.


Developmental screenings are time-sensitive tests to see if your child’s development is on track (or reaching developmental milestones). Each screening is a short test to be sure your child is learning and doing basic things when they should. The doctor should screen (or test) your child at 9, 18, and 30 months, which usually involves answering questions on a short questionnaire. At ages 3, 4 and 5, your school district conducts screenings through a program called Child Outreach.

If your child’s doctor does not regularly screen your child, or you are not sure if they do, be sure to ask for about screenings at your next visit. There may be a need for additional screenings if your child was a preterm birth, had a low birth-weight, or for other reasons that may put them at high risk for developmental problems.

Find out more about developmental screening and milestones by visiting the Exceed Family Page.

Brought to you by Exceed, the Rhode Island Department of Education, and the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Exceed is RI’s Early Childhood Commitment. Rhode Island’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant initiative is called Exceed. It supports the children of Rhode Island to achieve new heights in their learning. RI’s statewide partners are committed ensuring every child in our state truly Exceeds!

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