Hillary Clinton and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray held a surprise event in Brooklyn today. Hillary, obviously, was in her element!
Too Small to Fail Releases “Talking is Teaching Community Campaign Guide” to Activate and Enhance Local Word Gap Campaigns NationwideNew York, NYPress 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. >>
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:
- Dr. Seuss’s birthday was March 2! To celebrate, here are a few great tips for parents on how to make reading aloud to children fun, from Seussville.
- More fun rhyming activities for parents and toddlers, from PBS Parents.
- 13 things babies learn when we read with them, from NAEYC.
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. >>