Posts Tagged ‘Early Childhood Development & Education’

Today,  Hillary met with parents and staff at the Center for New Horizons, a child-care facility in Chicago.  She stopped off for a few events on her way home from two days of campaigning in Iowa and headed next for round two in New Hampshire on Friday.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is in Chicago Wednesday night for a pair of fundraisers and a meeting with parents about the challenges that families face.



U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a roundtable discussion about childcare next to Lakesia Collins during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a roundtable discussion about childcare next to Lakesia Collins during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives to speak to child care workers during a visit to the Center For New Horizons  Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives to speak to child care workers during a visit to the Center For New Horizons Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to Lakesia Collins speak at a roundtable discussion about childcare during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to Lakesia Collins speak at a roundtable discussion about childcare during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attends a roundtable discussion about childcare with parents and providers during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attends a roundtable discussion about childcare with parents and providers during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak at a roundtable discussion about childcare during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrives to speak at a roundtable discussion about childcare during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a roundtable discussion about childcare during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a roundtable discussion about childcare during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a roundtable discussion about childcare next to Lakesia Collins (L) and Maricarmen Macias during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a roundtable discussion about childcare next to Lakesia Collins (L) and Maricarmen Macias during a campaign stop in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

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“When we short-change childcare workers, we short-change kids and America’s future.” –HRC with in Chicago

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Hillary Clinton and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray held a surprise event in Brooklyn today.  Hillary, obviously, was in her element!

Apr 01

Too Small to Fail Releases “Talking is Teaching Community Campaign Guide” to Activate and Enhance Local Word Gap Campaigns Nationwide

New York, NY
Press Release

New York — Too Small to Fail released today its “Talking is Teaching Community Campaign Guide,” a how-to roadmap for local leaders across the country to initiate and enhance on-the-ground efforts to help close the word gap and boost young children’s early brain development. The guide and corresponding free materials and resources can now be found on www.toosmall.org/community.

The Community Campaign Guide builds off the success and lessons learned from Too Small to Fail’s local campaign efforts in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Oakland, California. The local campaign, titled “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing,” launched in these communities in 2014. Since then, Too Small to Fail has worked within these communities to engage trusted messengers — such as pediatricians, faith-based leaders, child care providers and librarians — to educate parents and deliver high-quality tools that can help them engage in meaningful interactions with their young children starting at birth.

The guide offers adaptive Talking is Teaching creative content and resources that encourage parents to talk, read, and sing with their children during everyday routines — from waiting for the bus, to making dinner, to giving a bath; ideas for engaging the business community and other allies to raise awareness; and suggestions about elevating community messages through local media. The free multimedia assets can be easily tailored to respond to the individual needs of a community.

The “Talking is Teaching Community Campaign Guide” is designed to inform local efforts underway across the country, as well as the one launched today in New York City. Today, at SCO FirstStepNYC Early Childhood Center in Brooklyn, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray and local parents to launch New York City’s “Talk to Your Baby, Their Brains Depend on It” public awareness campaign. This campaign will distribute 100,000 toolkits to parents which will include a “Talking is Teaching” resource for families, jointly developed by Too Small to Fail and Sesame Street. New York City will partner with organizations such as Reach Out and Read and the Administration for Child Services EarlyLearn sites for distribution.

“This is a conversation we want to have with as many people as we can reach because everybody needs to be creative and smart about how we better prepare our kids for the future,” said Secretary Clinton.

For more information about the “Talking is Teaching Community Campaign Guide”, visit Too Small to Fail online (www.toosmall.org/community), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/2smalltofail), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/2smalltofail).

Photos from today’s event can be found at here.


Closing the Word Gap, One Community At a Time

Not long after we launched our community campaigns in Tulsa and Oakland last year, we heard from many passionate individuals and business leaders across the country who were eager to spread the word in their own communities about the power of talking, reading, and singing with young children to boost early brain development. Encouraged and inspired by these messages, Too Small to Fail co-hosted a one-day conference on the word gap with the White House last October, where we committed to producing a guide with information, resources, and tools about how community leaders could launch or enhance word gap campaigns that would meet their specific community needs.

Now, we’re delighted to share that our new “Talking is Teaching Community Campaign Guide” is live on toosmall.org. In it, interested community leaders will find the latest research on early brain development, important information on launching a local word gap campaign, and related advice from Too Small to Fail and our partners. We have also provided creative campaign assets for producing toolkits and paid media.

We’re excited to join new and existing partners across the country, each committed to promoting early learning for young children where they live, and empowering parents to take action to boost their children’s language and brain development. Our hope is that communities that are ready to join this effort will find these materials and resources useful as they determine the best strategy to close the word gap in in their hometowns.

Resources for Sharing:

  • Learn about Too Small to Fail advisory council member Dr. Dana Suskind’s Thirty Million Words Initiative in Chicago, Illinois in this article by the Hechinger Report.
  • Our friend, Mayor Angel Taveras launched the innovation Providence Talks program in this city. Find out more about it in this New Yorker article.


Don’t miss our special campaign trailer to learn more about how we’re working with our partners in Tulsa and Oakland to promote early brain and language development. >>

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Here are the March newsletters from Too Small to Fail.


Reading Aloud With Children For Learning and Fun

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” —Dr. Seuss

Reading aloud to children has many benefits for both parents and children. Books that rhyme can be especially fun to read aloud, and help children better understand the natural rhythm and sounds of language. Perhaps few children’s books have been as loved by both parents and children as those written by Dr. Seuss. His books—from Fox in Socks to Green Eggs and Ham—are meant to be read aloud, and parents and children of all ages delight in them.

But even if parents are not comfortable reading aloud, there are other ways that they can introduce rhyming to young children.

As highlighted in an earlier newsletter, rhyming is an important tool for building language skills, and is used by cultures around the world. Rhyming helps build memory, strengthen language skills and introduce musical timing to words. When parents read aloud or recite nursery rhymes and poetry to young children, they expose their children to speech patterns that can improve future reading and verbal skills. In addition, rhyming introduces playfulness to the act of reading, which encourages a love of reading, and improves bonding between children and adults.

Reading aloud provides an easy and effective way for children to hear a variety of words that may not be used in everyday life. Parents and caregivers can practice reading rhyming and other books aloud to their babies in any language, from the moment their children are born. But if parents are not comfortable reading aloud, they can use singing, nursery rhymes, and even rapping to help their children recognize patterns of speech and inspire a love of language in their children.

Resources for Sharing:


Watch these singers, elected leaders, writers, and other local West Virginia celebrities read Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss. >>

Even Singing Off Key Can Bring a Smile to Children’s Faces

If YouTube videos are any indication, most babies love music and singing. From a very early age, children enjoy hearing silly songs, soothing lullabies and even fun rock songs if those songs are sung by their favorite people—parents and caregivers! New brain research continues to confirm the importance of singing to children, and is revealing how even the simplest melodies can contribute to early brain development.

Singing—much like rhyming—is a special form of language that improves children’s memory, and teaches them rhythm and melody. Brain research has shown that when children are sung to, both the left and right sides of their brains are activated, strengthening their neural connections. Singing can also teach children new vocabulary words.

But children don’t get the same benefits from listening to a CD or musical video. According to Sally Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, the benefits to brain development occurs best when a parent or caregiver sings directly to, and with, a young child.

Even if a parent or caregiver feels that they can’t carry a tune, young children appreciate the effort! Parents and caregivers can sing during everyday activities—like at bath time or before bed—to help their babies and toddlers develop important language and communication skills, and bring love and joy to every day activities. Don’t know the words? Adults can make up the words to a familiar tune, or insert a baby’s name into a song in order to spark their interest.

Resources for Sharing:

  • This blog post discusses research on the importance of music and singing to the early learning of children.
  • This article from Psychology Today explains the science behind the power of singing.
  • Many ideas for including singing and music into everyday activities, from Reading Rockets.
  • Five songs here to help parents and caregivers sing along with their babies and toddlers!


This talented mom tries singing a few different songs to this four-month-old, until he finally hears the one he likes. Check it out! >>

Appreciation for Math Starts at Home!

Young children often show a thirst for knowledge that helps their brains develop. This thirst presents a good opportunity for parents to encourage an early appreciation for math, which improves brain growth, and serves as a foundation for math skills learned later in school. And the really good news is that early math learning can be fun for both parents and children!

While older children can learn math skills like multiplication and algebra in school, an appreciation for and understanding of math actually begins much earlier in a child’s life. Stanford University professor and early math expert Deborah Stipek explains that math learning—like all learning—begins in infancy. Parents can begin teaching math concepts to babies by pointing out shapes, quantities, and the sizes of things around them. These early math concepts serve as building blocks for later learning that will include more complicated math principles. And the more parents talk with their babies about math during the years their brains are rapidly expanding language, the more likely their children are to understand, and be comfortable with, “math talk” later on.

Parents and caregivers can use everyday, fun activities to establish an early appreciation for the math that is all around us. For example, parents can set up different size containers for babies and toddlers to play with—pointing out the shapes of each and their sizes. They can also point out the order of items on a grocery store shelf (“first”, “second”, “next to”, “last”), to help children learn numerical order. Even if a parent isn’t comfortable with math problems, they can help set their children up for future success by playing simple board games that improve counting and other math skills.

Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from PBS Parents explains why encouraging a love of math in children early on helps them when they enter school, and beyond—and check out these fun math games for babies and toddlers!
  • Our factsheet offers ideas for how parents and caregivers can talk, read and sing about math with their children every day.
  • Videos, tips for parents and math games for children of all ages can be found on the website, Math at Play!


Don’t know how to begin teaching young children about math? Use the furniture in your home! Check out this video on how to use a child’s environment for early math learning. >>

Good Food for Thought

Nutritious food is important to the normal development of very young children. From brain growth to physical strength, healthy food provides the fuel that babies and toddlers need to thrive. But offering healthful food to young children doesn’t have to be stressful for parents and caregivers. There are many ways that parents can help their children enjoy healthy eating—even among picky eaters!

According to decades of clinical studies, good nutrition during the first few years of life are important to normal brain development—providing essential vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins that the brain needs to make new neural connections. Healthful food also provides young children with the energy and strength they need to develop motor skills, language, and even social and emotional skills. Studies of malnourished children show that without the right kinds of nutrition, children have difficulty concentrating, show poor interest in learning and may exhibit behavior problems.

Parents and caregivers can ensure the good nutrition of their young children by establishing healthy food habits, and offering a wide variety of healthful foods that contain a proper balance of nutrients. Even picky toddlers often enjoy meals that allow them to choose from a variety of nutrient rich foods, and incorporate interesting shapes or colors.

Regardless of how much food gets into children’s mouths, meals together are great times to establish good habits and strengthen family bonds. When parents talk with their children about the food they’re eating or about their days—even if their children can’t yet talk back—young children learn that meal times can be fun and loving experiences that fuel the body and the mind.

Resources for Sharing:

  • Good nutrition for toddlers takes many forms, as explained in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • This article explains the kinds of nutrition that benefit toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Print out these tips for ways to improve your young child’s early nutrition!


This podcast from ZERO TO THREE’s “Little Kids, Big Questions” series explains why nurturing healthy eating habits from the start is important. >>

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Encouraging Curiosity for Better Learning

When children exhibit curiosity, they are actually exhibiting an interest in learning. This innate interest in learning and exploring their world helps children retain information, and is an asset to their later development and success in school. The more curious children are about the things they see, hear and think—and the more questions they ask!—the better off they are in later learning.

From the moment a baby fixes her gaze on a new object, she is exercising her curiosity to help her learn. Even if a child is too young to use words, her brain is actively working to understand what she is experiencing and to help her make sense of it. According to brain research, the brain’s chemistry actually changes when curiosity is piqued, and helps a person remember not just what they’re curious about, but any other information they come across during that highly charged learning time.

Curiosity is not unique to human beings, but it is one of our strongest innate abilities, and guides and motivates us to acquire new information.

Parents can encourage their children’s natural curiosity in several ways. For example, parents of young babies can encourage their children’s interest in a particular object or sounding by showing interest in what their babies notice, and talking to them about what they see or hear, even if the child cannot yet talk back.  Parents and caregivers can also provide their babies with safe, new objects that can be explored with hands, mouths, eyes or ears. For older toddlers who may ask a lot of questions, parents can encourage their children by answering as many questions as they can, or looking for answers together in a book.


Resources for Sharing:


An animated video from Great Schools about nurturing curiosity—and learning—in young children. >>

Celebrating Black History and Diversity Builds Self-Esteem and Empathy

Every February, teachers across America highlight the important contributions that African Americans have made to United States history, culture, and economy. Integral to these conversations is the importance of diversity, and teaching children to appreciate the differences—and commonalities—among their fellow human beings. But children can begin learning about diversity and celebrating African American history before they begin school. In fact, parents and caregivers can help children understand early on that appreciating the differences among us enriches all our lives.

Young children often pick up on the differences among human beings early on, but can learn that difference is a positive trait, rather than a negative one. A positive view of diversity is taught by building self-concept, or self-esteem, as well as empathy. When young children are taught to empathize with others—or, to put themselves in others’ shoes—they learn important social and emotional skills that benefit their relationships, communication skills and personal development. Additionally, children can develop positive self-esteem by learning to take pride in their accomplishments and talents, as well as those of their peers.

Parents and caregivers can use Black History Month as an opportunity to discuss difference and diversity in a positive way, and to encourage children to be proud of how they look and what they can achieve. By using stories from history, songs and dances that celebrate diversity and encourage self-esteem, parents can help ensure that their children will grow up with a positive outlook for life and respect for the world around them.


Resources for Sharing:

  • These articles, activities and even recipes from PBS will help parents and caregivers celebrate diversity with their children year round.
  • Books and activities for sharing with kids, from Reading Rockets.
  • Ideas for books, songs and art activities—as well as a personal story about celebrating diversity—from the Artful Parent blog.


Test your Black History skills with this infographic from You Parent! >>

How Bonding Builds Babies’ Brains

Often, there is a lot of emphasis placed on the cognitive or physical skills young children pick up—how to roll over, walk, or recite a nursery rhyme, for example. But in truth, social and emotional skills are just as important to early brain development, and for reasons that scientists are just beginning to understand. And this type of early social-emotional development has a direct connection to how parents and caregivers interact with their children early on.

Scientists believe that the attachment that parents form with their young children helps ensure a sense of safety in children and builds their self-esteem. Newborns usually seek nurturing from their parents and caregivers from the moment of birth, and when their basic needs are met with gentleness and affection, their sense of security increases, and stress levels decrease. These chemical changes in the brain have long-lasting, positive effects on the brain, and can improve early learning and the ability to form positive relationships with others.

Loving moments experienced between parents and children—from birth through adolescence—contribute to feelings of closeness between the two. Parents can use daily activities, like changing a diaper or preparing a toddler for bed, to enjoy quiet moments that reassure a child that he or she is loved. Eye-to-eye contact, holding a baby’s hand, and talking to him throughout the day (even if he’s not yet talking back!) are all ways that parents and caregivers can help their children grow up to be confident, loving adults.


Resources for Sharing:

  • This cute Sesame Street video for parents explains how showing interest in your young child’s activities improves bonding and builds self-esteem!
  • Great tips for parents on activities that encourage bonding with young babies, using everyday activities.
  • How singing (yes, singing!) can help your baby bond with you, and learn.


Find more videos from Sesame Street on our website, talkingisteaching.org. >> 

Early Communication Builds Language and Social Skills

Human beings use many forms of communication to share thoughts, feelings and ideas with others. Language is a skill that is learned from birth by the back-and-forth dialogue that parents and other caregivers develop with their babies and toddlers. However, babies and toddlers communicate in a variety of ways before they are able to speak—including through coos, babbling, physical touch and even crying. The more parents and caregivers encourage early communication, the more their young children learn about how to express themselves.

According to the Urban Child Institute, the first form of communication that babies learn is touch. In countries where babies are often tied to a mother throughout the day, babies root and nurse when they’re hungry, long before they are ready to cry. Experts have found that the more responsive parents are to their children’s earliest needs by touching, talking gently and picking them up when upset, the more stable those children will be. In addition, children begin to learn actual language much before they are able to use words. In fact, research shows that children understand words and tones long before their first birthday.

There are many ways that parents and caregivers can help their children improve their early communication skills. ZERO TO THREE encourages parents to respond to a baby’s gestures and sounds by talking and cooing back to him, and picking him up when he lifts his arms. Also, parents can help their children build language skills by asking questions and exploring answers together, and by taking time to read, talk and sing with young children every day.


A fascinating video from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, about how parents stimulate children’s early brain development through “serve and return”. >>


ICYMI, we announced a new partnership with First 5 California at its annual Child Health, Education, and Care Summit earlier this week. Hillary Clinton also made a special appearance via video! #talkreadsing






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It was an active month for Too Small to Fail with Chelsea in the spotlight.

Article and video From People >>>>

Chelsea Clinton Shares Her Mommy Routines with Baby Charlotte (VIDEO)Wednesday
Jan 21
New York, NY
Press Release

New York, NY — Too Small to Fail and Sesame Street launched today a new text-to-parents program in partnership with the free mobile health information service, Text4baby, to distribute research-based tips to new parents about the importance of talking, reading and singing with their newborn children. The service will reach Text4baby’s network of subscribers that has reached more than 820,000 parents nationwide at no charge to participants.

This new text-to-parents program of ‘Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing’ is the first national partnership to use texting to deliver tips on early language development to parents of infants. Research-based tips developed by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, will provide parents with specific ways they can promote their infants’ early language development and support Sesame’s mission to help all kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Each early language development tip sent out through Text4baby will also be paired with a link to an engaging and relevant video, also produced by Sesame Workshop. These videos, featuring real parents and children, as well as the Sesame Street Muppets, will model for parents how to engage in the specific behaviors promoted through the tips.

From meal time to bath time to bed time, text messages will span a wide range of topics aimed at helping parents find fun and meaningful ways to incorporate talking, reading and singing to their babies into their everyday moments and routines. For additional parenting resources, visit www.talkingisteaching.org andwww.sesamestreet.org/talking.

Originally announced at Clinton Global Initiative America, this partnership builds off the latest research about the power and potential of providing parents with key information to promote early literacy development through text messaging. Recent research has found that communicating with parents through mobile text can be a highly effective strategy for producing positive learning outcomes for children. A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that San Francisco preschoolers whose parents received text messages with highly-specific tips on reading to their children or helping them sound out letters and words performed better on literacy tests than children whose parents did not receive such messages.

Beginning today, parents who have signed up for the Text4baby service will receive early language development messages beginning from their baby’s 9th week of development, and every other week thereafter until their baby turns one. The text-based tips will be made available in both English and Spanish. Too Small to Fail will also work with community partners and pediatricians in Tulsa, OK and Oakland, CA, as well as in other cities across the country, to encourage parents of infants to sign up for the service.

New parents can sign up for this service by texting BABY (or BEBE in Spanish) to 511411. To access even more early learning tips and information, visitwww.talkingisteaching.org.



New Year, Old (and New!) Routines

Singing songs at bedtime, eating dinner together every day, reading a special book to your baby or toddler—these are all routines that children enjoy sharing with parents and caregivers. But routines also play an important developmental role, because they help children develop stronger social and emotional health that can benefit them long-term.

According to a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, routines can improve the social and emotional health of young children. Researchers found that story telling, shared meal times, singing and play routines doubled the odds of a child having high social and emotional health. Other studies have shown similar findings. Turns out that routines help children learn to trust and depend on others. This is a valuable asset for stability in relationships, and strengthens parent-child bonding time.

In addition, routines help babies and toddlers better manage emotions, since they know what to expect and aren’t as easily pulled into power struggles with parents and caregivers.

While family life can often be chaotic, there are many ways that parents can introduce routine into their children’s lives. Finding time to have regular meals together can be challenging for busy families, but this time together offers a great way for parents to build trust with children and encourage new vocabulary. Establishing a regular bedtime is also a great way for parents to help their children get the physical and mental rest they need, while providing a comforting way to regularly connect through bedtime stories or songs.


Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from ZERO TO THREE explains how routines benefits babies and young children—as well as adults!
  • Real advice for parents from this PBS Parents expert about creating routines for children, from birth through teenage years.
  • This article from Michelle Howell Miller on Huffington Post shares how a bedtime routine benefits young children.



Watch this childhood expert explain why routines are important for babies, toddlers and even older children. >>



Active Play is Good For Everyone!

Ever notice how some young children appear capable of generating enough energy through their movements to power a large city block for a day? Whether by running in circles, swinging their arms or jumping up and down in place for a long stretch of time, many babies and toddlers enjoy levels of physical activity that exhaust all but the most physically fit adults.

A young child’s instinct for movement and active play is an important one. In addition to helping them develop good habits and physical health, active play also helps them develop critical emotional and communication skills that will benefit them through childhood and into adulthood. Physical activity helps children understand how to interact with their environment—like how to throw a ball or hang from a monkey bar—and provides them with the self-confidence they need to actually do those things. And when children play with adults or other children, they learn how to communicate their needs more effectively and better manage their emotions. A research study published in Pediatrics in September 2014 showed that children who engaged in active play for at least an hour a day were better able to think creatively and multitask than other children who were not as active.

Like practicing an instrument, engaging in physical play builds muscle memory and helps children apply new skills towards other activities.

Parents and caregivers can encourage their children’s natural desire to play and move by starting early and getting active with them! Instead of always placing their infants in a sitting position, parents can try placing young babies on a towel on the floor so that they can strengthen their muscles and prepare to crawl or walk. Parents of toddlers can also practice throwing soft balls to them and encouraging them to throw it back, or by singing songs together like “Hokey Pokey”, which encourage dancing and following instructions.

Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from ZERO TO THREE explains how physical play helps children learn, grow strong and become better communicators!
  • Current research highlighting the importance of physical play to children can be found in this story by National Public Radio (NPR).
  • Great ideas for encouraging physical play in toddlers in this piece from KidsHealth


Watch Chelsea Clinton and Elmo enjoy a heart-to-heart about talking, reading and singing to babies, as featured in People Magazine! >>

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The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children

Reading aloud to children from birth has many benefits for both parents and children—and can be great fun!  No matter how young, children can learn a lot when they are read to, and benefit a great deal from the cuddling and bonding that accompanies a reading session. In addition, the act of reading aloud to children is highly beneficial to both their vocabulary growth and in preparing them for school later on.

Even from birth, children are absorbing language by listening to their parents and caregivers talk, read and sing to them and others.  When parents and caregivers read to their children, they help instill a love of learning and language in their children that helps build self-esteem, confidence and curiosity. According to research by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), reading has been found to be the “single most important skill” for a productive life.

Unfortunately, according to Read Aloud 15 MINUTES, only 48% of young children in the United States are read to each day. And studies have shown that as many as 10 million children struggle with basic reading in school.

Parents and caregivers can inspire a love of books in their young children by reading books together every day, in any language. And it doesn’t matter how young the child is; even newborn babies show interest and excitement when their parents read simple books to them as they cuddle or nurse them, or when parents describe the pictures in a book during a short play session. No matter the book—and no matter the age—children will learn to love reading if it means spending more time with loved ones.


Resources for Sharing:


This beautifully illustrated infographic has great info on reading aloud to children, and why it matters. >><

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From Too Small to Fail: A Little Creativity For the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and so we’re thinking about the things that families can do together to inspire creativity. Whether preparing hand-made gifts for loved ones or participating in family holiday traditions, young children can express their creativity in different ways that encourage the signature trademarks of a creative mind—adaptability, independent thinking and imagination.

Creativity is a trait that we usually associate with children. However, researchers have found that environment plays an important role in influencing creativity, and early experiences can greatly encourage—or discourage—a child’s creative thinking. A young child who has been given ample time to draw, make crafts, explore their environment and engage in fantasy play often shows greater creativity in the school years. Parents can support their children’s creative thinking from infancy by encouraging babies to explore their environments and offering safe items for play that can be used in different ways.

With that in mind, this week we thought it would be fun to give you a run-down of creative ideas that parents and caregivers can undertake with their little ones—from babies to toddlers! By offering positive reinforcement that encourages their children’s imaginations, parents and caregivers can help their children develop flexible thinking that will boost their early learning.

  • If you’ve run out of wrapping paper, this neat little DIY recipe is fun for both kids and adults. Great for young toddlers who may REALLY enjoy driving their toy trucks over non-toxic paint and paper.
  • Three seasonal recipes that will help foster creativity in toddlers!
  • And 50 creative play ideas for any time of the year can be found here!
  • From baby dance parties to learning math with play dough, the ideas in this blog post should get your creative juices flowing.
  • Finally, remember Silly Putty? You can recruit your little one to make your own version here. Then, copy newspaper print or roll it up into a ball and bounce it around (*not recommended for children who put toys or other items in their mouths).

Holiday Special

As the holidays draw near, we’re asking you to share your favorite holiday traditions and moments involving quality time with the kids in your life, whether it’s reading books together, singing holiday songs, or simply spending quiet family time.

Starting Monday, December 22, use #SmallTraditions on Facebook or Twitter to share your most treasured moments. Don’t forget a photo! We will share our favorites, too.

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A Special Thanksgiving Message

As we prepare to take a day or two off from our busy work lives to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, the staff at Too Small to Fail would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude for the work of our partners, colleagues and friends. We couldn’t do what we do without you.

Thanks to the work of our many partners and supporters, we’ve been able to reach millions of parents, caregivers, early childhood educators and policy makers with information about how to help secure a brighter future for all children in America. From New York City to Oakland, California, we have established relationships with incredible organizations and individuals who are committed to helping children succeed by improving early vocabulary and math skills, strengthening social skills and empowering parents with tools to help them improve their children’s early learning.

We look forward to continuing this work in the upcoming year, even as we count our many blessings and lessons from the past year.

And a special thank you to all of you who work so hard to make a positive difference in individual children’s lives—whether your own children or those of others. Know that your work matters, and the time you take to talk, read and sing to the babies and toddlers in your life—even if just for a few minutes a day—means a lot to their development and well-being.

So, whether you’re braving the roads or skyways to be with loved ones, or are wrestling a turkey into your oven or vegetables into a pot, we hope you get to enjoy some quality time with the little ones in your life. And if you’re looking for a fun activity to explore with your child during the next few days, here’s an easy one we found that highlights gratitude and encourages together time.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We hope it’s a special one.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Too Small to Fail team, to everyone at the Clinton Foundation,  to Mme. Secretary and her lovely family, and to all the readers here at Still 4 Hill. Have a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving!

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I am thankful, every day of every year, for having the chance to be on earth at the same time as Hillary Clinton.


A Little Routine for Life-long Health

All humans are supposed to be creatures of habit, but children really thrive on habit and routine—even when it appears otherwise!  Children deeply benefit from routines that establish healthy habits like regular sleep, nutritious meals eaten around the dinner table, and an organized home. This is because daily and family routines help children develop the cognitive, emotional and social skills they will need to succeed in school and beyond.

Researchers encourage establishing routines with children from infancy for various reasons. Routines help children learn that they can trust and depend on adults—a valuable asset for emotional stability in relationships and an important way to establish parent-child bonds. Meaningful routines—like the ones we practice as rituals during Thanksgiving and other holidays—help children feel like they belong to a community, and improve their social skills. Some research even suggests that children living in families with regular routines suffer from fewer illnesses, like respiratory infections.

Parents and caregivers can help children establish healthy routines that have direct and life-long benefits. For example, parents can read books with their babies and young children at bedtime to help them sleep better. Parents can also establish regular times of conversation, like around the dinner table, to improve bonding and stimulate language. Finally, parents and caregivers can use holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving to instill a sense of tradition and history in the family.


Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from the AAP explains how various routines throughout a child’s day can improve moods and benefit development.
  • This article from Raising Children Network offers tips for how parents can incorporate routines and ritual into family life.
  • A reminder that quality time can happen in short intervals—even for busy families!


This beautiful video from BabyWorld shows how a bedtime routine will help your infant get the sleep his body—and brain—need. >>


Gratitude for Every Day of the Year

Were you taught to count your blessings as a child?  Turns out, this is important advice for young children and adults alike. While rituals like Thanksgiving serve as a great opportunity to express gratitude within families, new research is showing that teaching young children how to express gratitude on a regular basis is an important skill that will benefit them their entire lives.

According to a growing body of research, there are many benefits to the social, emotional and physical development of children when they are taught to feel and express gratitude regularly. Psychologists have found that when people think about the positive things in their lives—even while experiencing stressful situations—they can increase their happiness, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety.  The benefits stem from brain hormones triggered and released by positive thoughts. These “feel-good” hormones counter the effects of the body’s stress hormones, which can harm developing minds and bodies. Expressing gratitude on a regular basis can improve the immune system, speed up recovery time and prevent chronic illnesses like obesity and heart disease. Finally, the more positive a child’s thinking, the more eager they are to learn and engage with others. This improves their social relationships and encourages new connections.

This does not mean that parents and caregivers should stop children from expressing negative feelings or emotions. But parents can help young children learn how to think positively and express gratitude by talking about their own gratitude for the positive things and people in their lives. Also, parents and caregivers can help young toddlers develop gratitude by sharing books about thankfulness, and involving them in activities—like delivering donated food to a food bank—that encourage sharing and empathy for others.


Resources for Sharing:

  • This news article from the Wall Street Journal explains recent research on gratitude, and how it benefits children and families.
  • Tips, videos and other resources from Greater Good about why gratitude matters—and how to express it regularly!
  • Ten ways to help children express their gratitude, starting now!


This video for parents explains why teaching gratitude can improve health and well-being for their children, and themselves. >>

Here is what Hillary is thankful for today.

Quality child care makes our families & communities stronger. Thanks to the President for signing bipartisan child care bill.

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Univision Focuses on Early Learning During Education Week

All this week, Too Small to Fail media partner Univision and its affiliate stations across the country are participating in the network’s fourth annual Education Week, a multimedia campaign on education that spans across television, radio, digital and community events.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with them on this effort. During Education Week, Univision affiliates across the country deliver compelling stories, important research and useful resources to help Hispanic families better engage their children’s education for success in school and beyond. This week, popular shows like “Primer Impacto”, “Hoy” and “Aqui y Ahora”, are showing viewers how to talk, read and sing with young children every day, and how those activities develop language and early learning skills.

An important message throughout some of this programming is how dual language learners—children whose families speak a language other than English at home—benefit greatly from being spoken to in their parent’s native language. As we have highlighted in the past, children who are exposed to more than one language typically develop stronger math and reading skills in English, are more creative thinkers, and problem-solve better than monolingual children. But this advantage is strongest when children hear many words from parents and caregivers, so they can develop a large vocabulary in their home language as well as in English.

We’re sharing this week’s Education Week programming in our social media, as well as information about dual language learners from researchers and other partners. Follow along on Twitter and Facebook, or by using #ClaveAlExito!


Resources for Sharing:

  • This Univision page includes listings for Education Week programming.
  • Five tips for parents about dual language learning, and how to encourage vocabulary development in young children.
  • This op-ed from Cindy McCain and Roberto Llamas of Univision explains why it’s important for parents to talk, read and sing frequently to their children—in any language.


An animated video featuring famous bilingual singer and author Jose Luiz Orozco. >>



Love these innovative investments to close the & opportunity gap for Chicago kids cc

Pritzker-led group sinks $16.9 million into pre-K for poor Chicago kids

A group of private investors, led by Chicago billionaire J.B. Pritzker, will invest $16.9 million in an innovative financing scheme that allows Chicago to expand pre-kindergarten programs for more than 2,000 low-income children over the next four years.

If it works, in terms of reducing the future costs of special education and remedial programs, the investors aim to get their money back, plus interest, but at no cost to taxpayers. The financing technique is sometimes called a “social impact bond” or “pay for success” financing.

In this scenario, Chicago Public Schools will get about a third of the savings generated if the program succeeds, with the rest going to pay back investors.

Read more >>>>

Proud to launch a new toolkit at to help pediatricians & parents talk, read & sing to babies:

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Nurturing a Kinder, Gentler Child With Empathy

Sometimes, very young children can be highly attuned to the emotional state of others—crying when they see a parent or sibling cry, for example. Other times, they can appear insensitive, ignoring a child’s cries or pointing out differences that make adults wince. The ability to relate to how others feel, or empathy, is learned in different ways throughout a person’s life and while not always readily apparent in babies or toddlers, it is an important skill to learn that contributes to success in school and beyond.

Empathy is closely linked to social and emotional development, and researchers agree that people who show strong empathy for others tend to have better social interactions, and do better in school and at work. This kind of prosocial behavior—behavior that benefits others—is an asset in building relationships and in developing moral behavior. Like other social and emotional skills, empathy is best nurtured in infancy by a parent or caregiver.

Talking about feelings is a great way to start this process. In order to help children develop the positive benefits of empathy—without becoming emotionally distressed by the pain of others—parents and caregivers can use every day moments to teach these important life skills. For example, if a child observes another fall down, a parent can explain how that child may feel and then model empathic behavior by asking the fallen child if he’s okay or needs help.

Parents can also help their children understand that it feels good to help others in need by being affectionate and responsive to their children’s needs.


Resources for Sharing:

  • Find tips here for improving the social and emotional health of children from birth through age three, from the experts at ZERO TO THREE.
  • This article from PBS offers tips for nurturing emotionally secure, confident children—from infancy.

First Teachers Can Be Most Important Teachers

Even if parents don’t see themselves as teachers, they are their children’s first—and often, most!—important teachers. From even before birth, babies learn to recognize the sound of their mother’s voices and learn about their environment. And after birth, babies look to parents to help them make sense of the world around them, from new foods to new experiences. Every book that is read, song that is sung, or story that is told is an opportunity for parents to teach their young children about their environment, boost their vocabulary and build closer bonds.

But parents aren’t the only teachers in a young child’s life. Increasingly, grandparents play the role of primary caregivers to young children and foster their physical, emotional and cognitive development. According to AARP, almost 3 million grandparents in the United States serve as primary caregivers for their grandchildren. These grandparents provide an important way for young children to learn important skills from older adults, as well as family history.

Older siblings also play a very important role in young children’s lives by offering guidance on simple activities or social customs. New research shows that the learning that takes place between younger and older siblings is spontaneous and two-sided—meaning that older siblings often offer instruction to younger siblings without being asked, but younger siblings often ask their older siblings how to do things, too.

While young children can learn from every person they encounter, it is the ones who engage with them on a daily basis—be they parents, grandparents, siblings or preschool teachers—that best inspire a child’s life-long curiosity and love for learning.


Resources for Sharing:

  • Tips and information from AARP for grandparents who serve as their grandchildren’s primary caregivers, from important medical records to legal issues.
  • Ideas for fun activities that support early learning, from our friends at ZERO TO THREE.
  • 20 tips for parents from preschool teachers about how to get the most from your toddler.
  • This blog post from Too Small to Fail reveals how one family’s youngest teacher helps his sister learn.

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