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Posts Tagged ‘Early Childhood Education’

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. & team up to close the word gap & help parents talk, read & sing to kids. More here:

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New Orleans — Today, to coincide with “Family Day” at the 20th annual Essence Festival, ESSENCE and Too Small to Fail announced a new partnership to deliver information and mobilize ESSENCE’s audience to improve the lives of young African-American children, from birth to age five. For the first year of the campaign, ESSENCE and Too Small to Fail will focus on a serious challenge in early learning—specifically, narrowing the “word gap.” Through the campaign, the partners will encourage parents and caregivers to take simple actions during their children’s first five years of life — like talking, reading and singing — to foster language and early brain development.

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Prenatal Care Effects Felt Long After Birth

Parents focus on taking good care of their babies once they are born by providing them with nutritious food, clean clothes and a safe environment, but there are steps that parents can take to ensure the wellbeing of their children even before birth. Good prenatal care is important not just to prevent complications during a pregnancy, but also to ensure that both mother and baby are as healthy as can be after birth and for a long time after.

Doctors recommend that women begin receiving prenatal care during the first trimester of pregnancy. During these early visits, doctors can work with a mother to spot problems early on, but also to provide valuable information about the kinds of food and exercise that can improve her health and the development of her baby.

For expecting mothers, prenatal care reduces the chances of serious problems like preterm birth, anemia and low birth weight. According to Stanford University School of Medicine, babies born to mothers who received no prenatal care are three times more likely to be born at low birth weight. Low birth weight can cause many health and learning problems for young children, including language delays, attention disorders and even severe neurological problems.

There are many ways that pregnant mothers can prepare for a healthy pregnancy, and get their children’s development off to a good start. By receiving regular prenatal care, eating well and exercising, a mother-to-be can improve her baby’s chances for success during the early years and beyond.

Resources for Sharing:

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Information about low birth weight rates around the country. >>

 

If You Want to Help Your Kids Get Smarter, Limit Screen Time

As parents and caregivers, you are bombarded by advertisements for hundreds of shows, movies and internet apps that claim to help children prepare for school and improve learning. But most early childhood experts agree that too much screen time—meaning time that children spend in front of a television, computer or mobile device—can actually do more harm than good.

While some high quality programs can help preschool-aged children learn vocabulary and early math concepts, the best learning actually happens from direct interaction with adults and the world around us. Children learn language and other skills best through play and direct communication with other people. And for infants and very young toddlers, touch, taste and physical movement are also important ways that they absorb and learn new information.

For parents who feel that some screen time is unavoidable, there are resources that offer guidance on when and how to expose very young children to television and other media. For example, experts recommend that parents and caregivers choose children’s program carefully, and that they watch these programs with their children as much as possible to stimulate conversation.

Finally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children younger than two years of age, and no more than two hours a day for older children.

Resources for Sharing:

  • This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics explains why pediatricians recommend no television or screen time for children under age 2.
  • These 5 tips for picking a preschooler’s first TV shows are helpful and shareworthy!
  • Great research from The Urban Institute about infants, toddlers, and television.

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This infographic from Common Sense Media explains the dramatic increase in mobile device use among infants and toddlers. >>

 

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Storytelling Builds Imagination (Dragons Not Included)

The rhythmic voice of a grandfather telling a story about his childhood, or the varied character voices that a parent uses to tell a made-up story, will linger in a child’s mind for years after the storytelling is finished. This is because stories—real or fiction—spark the imagination of the child listening to them, and encourage that child to listen not just to the words being spoken, but to the emotion and experience of the storyteller.

Research on family storytelling shows that children receive many benefits from the stories their caregivers share with them. Reminiscing with children about the past helps them understand their place in their family history, and teaches them how to empathize with other people’s thoughts and emotions. Hearing and telling stories helps children develop narrative skills, which will serve them well when they begin learning how to read. And there is evidence that storytelling can also help young children build their self-esteem and teach them how to communicate more effectively.

For parents who are not comfortable reading, telling stories is a great way to encourage language development in babies and toddlers. Parents can start by telling personal stories or favorite fairy tales, and can use props around the home to grab the attention of young children. Another great way to encourage a tradition of storytelling is to invite young children to participate in the action; for example, they can roar like a lion, walk like a tortoise, or taste the porridge in the bear’s bowl.

Storytelling is a great way to build a closer relationship with a child, and it doesn’t require much in the way of materials. As children grow up hearing their loved ones’ best stories, they are also preparing to one day tell stories of their own.

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Storyteller Anne E. Stewart describes why stories are important to young children, and how parents can tell great stories to their children (no experience needed!). >>

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Literacy is Rooted in Love

One of the sweetest, most memorable, experiences for a parent or caretaker is sitting down in a chair, putting your arm around your child, and reading books together. That simple activity of discovering stories with each other, one on one, strengthens your bond and sets your child up for a lifetime of loving books.

Only half of all toddlers – and even fewer babies – are read to regularly by parents or family members, according to the nonprofit literacy group, Reading is Fundamental, which recommends reading at least 30 minutes a day to help prepare a child to learn.

Long before a child learns to read, she is absorbing sounds and patterns of language by listening to you and other caregivers talk. The more you engage her brain by reading with her as part of a regular routine, the better equipped she’ll be for both speaking and reading – and the more she’ll learn to associate books with enjoyment.  That can be a big advantage later in school, when reading is sometimes perceived as more work than fun.

You can lay a good foundation for early literacy by celebrating books and reading in your household. Visit the local library with your preschooler and let them check out new (or favorite!) books. Let your child discover you reading on the couch for relaxation. With an infant who’s just starting to babble, you can point to pictures in a board book, and vary your tone of voice as you narrate a story. And when your child learns to read, you can encourage her to read aloud with you.

Reading with your child will greatly expand vocabulary and actually help with other subjects like math. And a child who has fun exploring books at home as a very young child is likely to go on and enjoy reading once she reaches school, and beyond.

 

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Mom Jennifer Cooper reads a bedtime story to her two children and says reading together enhances their vocabulary and their math skills. >>

 

These parents clearly love and miss their daughters.  I am sure they have fond memories of reading to their little girls.  They have worked hard and sacrificed to finance a good education for them,  and now they want their kidnapped daughters back. There needs to be more attention brought to their plight.

Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls: #BringBackOurGirls @BringGirlsBack

We hope these marches in major cities help alert news organizations.

#BringBackOurGirls: Who knows? Who cares? Who will march? Who will report it?

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Young parents who live near their own parents are lucky.  Some people we know are unapologetically enthusiastic to become grandparents and share their gifts and experience with their children and grandkids.  We wish them the best of luck in that aspiration.

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The Special Role of Grandparents

Many of us remember childhood time with our grandparents with fondness: almost like our parents but with more time to play and maybe more willing to spoil us a little.   

But grandparents also play a very functional role in today’s society. More than three million children in the United States are cared for every day by grandparents while their parents go to work.

As more parents enter the workforce in order stay afloat in a tough economy, and as formal child care becomes more expensive, grandparents and other relatives have become the go-to source for child care. Changing family structures have also contributed to more grandparents becoming primary caregivers, in some instances taking over when their grandchildren’s parents are unable to provide care.

Very young children can benefit greatly from spending quality time with their grandparents. For example, several studies have shown that children whose grandparents talk, read and sing often to them show better vocabulary and emotional development, and are better able to manage stress.

Experts recommend several ways in which grandparents can be more successful in their role as caregivers. First, it’s important to establish mutual trust and respect with parents so that conflicts don’t arise. Additionally, grandparents can positively contribute to their grandchildren’s learning by sharing activities that promote their social, mental and emotional growth. Simple things like singing traditional lullabies, telling family histories or playing games can strengthen bonds with young grandchildren, and help them prepare to learn.

Read more:

  • Learn about important developmental milestones for babies and toddlers in this helpful factsheet from PBS.org.
  • Simple ways grandparents can improve bonding and learning with children, from KidsHealth.

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Attachment and child expert Dr. Jim Sears talks about why building secure attachments are important to children’s health. >>

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National Momentum Builds to Close the Word Gap

It’s not every day that we get a chance to celebrate victories, is it? But lately the good news about local efforts to close the word gap has been buoying all of us at Too Small to Fail. People across the country are in agreement that talking, reading, and singing to children from birth strengthens bonds with them and builds vocabularies so they can better prepare for school.

In this newsletter, we’d like to share some of that good news with you.

In case you missed it, last week Too Small to Fail launched its first local campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Working with community partners like the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CAP Tulsa, and Tulsa Educare, we announced a campaign that will help parents and caregivers increase the number of words they speak directly to their babies and toddlers every day. We’re really excited about this initiative, and are hopeful that by working with local pediatricians, faith-based leaders, business owners and others to share the campaign’s messages, we can help close the word gap in Tulsa.

In Chicago, PNC Foundation (part of the PNC Bank) just announced a $19 million, multi-year initiative to help Chicago parents and caregivers build their children’s vocabularies. The initiative will fund early learning and vocabulary programs—including the Thirty Million Words Initiative started by Too Small to Fail advisory council member Dr. Dana Suskind—and will track the progress of the participating families for several years.

The city of Providence, Rhode Island, announced just two weeks ago that it was launching an intensive program that combines home visitation with other community-wide efforts to empower parents to close the word gap by speaking and reading more to their children. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has been a committed advocate on this issue, and expects the program to eventually help more than 2,000 families in the area.

And First Five California recently launched its new effort to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of using everyday moments to build their children’s vocabularies in a statewide campaign called “Talk. Read. Sing.”. Commercials and radio spots are filling the air with messages about baby and toddler development, and ways to get parents and little kids more engaged in talk and play.

Finally, our partner Univision Communications announced this week a national month-long effort named “Accion por los Niños” aimed at Hispanic families to raise awareness and increase the time they spend talking, reading and singing to their very young children. The media company will host a series of events across the country including reading gardens with Univision celebrities, special programming in affiliate stations and press events with elected leaders.

We hope you find this good news encouraging, and that you can find a way to support efforts to close the word gap—either in your family or your community. Either way, we look forward to hearing about it.

In The News:

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Check out one of the First Five California ads that aims to empower parents and caregivers to close the word gap. >>

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On her way home from CGI U 2014 in Arizona, Hillary will make a stop-off in Tulsa to announce a joint campaign with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CAP Tulsa, and Tulsa Educare in conjunction with her Too Small to Fail Initiative.

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Hillary Clinton coming to Tulsa to help announce new education campaign

She will join George Kaiser in announcing the new “Talking is Teaching” campaign.

By MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Tulsa with local billionaire philanthropist George Kaiser on Monday to announce the kickoff of the “Talking is Teaching” campaign, a partnership with the Too Small to Fail Initiative aimed at helping parents and caregivers of children ages birth to 5 prepare for success.

The partnership is a communitywide effort by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CAP Tulsa, Tulsa Educare and Too Small to Fail — a joint initiative of Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation — to empower parents and caregivers to boost the brain development and vocabularies of young children by increasing the number of words they hear spoken to them each day.

The announcement will take place at 2:30 p.m. Monday at Educare No. 2, 3420 N. Peoria Ave. It is not open to the public.

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