In the wake of compelling research on the importance of early brain
development for children ages 0-5, First 5 California launched a new
statewide media campaign that encourages parents and caregivers to talk,
read, and sing to babies and toddlers.
"The most recent science tells us that exercising the brains of babies
in the first years of life has an extremely powerful impact on their
development. We know that the more early engagement and stimulation a
child receives, the stronger their cognitive skills, emotional
well-being, and physical and mental health will be," said George
Halvorson, Chair of the First 5 California Children and Families
Commission. "With the highest population of young children in the
nation, it is vital for California to help all of our babies and
toddlers get the right level of brain growth support-and that is why
First 5 is now promoting the simple but powerful steps of talking,
reading and singing to create the mental exercise that gives babies and
toddlers the strong foundation they need for success."
"By the time a child enters kindergarten, his or her brain is already
very largely developed," said First 5 Commissioner Conway Collis.
"Studies show that the vast majority of children who are behind in
kindergarten will never catch up. Research also shows children who lag
behind their peers tend to have a higher rate of teenage pregnancy and
incarceration. By working with parents and caregivers we can address
these problems before they develop."
There are also social and emotional benefits to children who have
caregivers who talk, read, and sing to them. Without those linguistic
skills and attachments to caring adults, research shows children are
less ready to participate in and benefit from school. Additionally,
brain scans of children who have had caregivers talk, read, and sing to
them regularly appear dramatically healthier in several respects than
those of children who have not had that exposure.
Several elected officials including Senate President Pro Tem Darrell
Steinberg, Senator Carol Liu, Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan,
Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, Assemblymember Shirley Weber, and
Assemblymember Roger Dickinson joined Halvorson, Collis and First 5's
Executive Director Camille Maben at a news conference in Sacramento last
week to launch the campaign.
"We can't continue denying the science. By age three, kids born into
low-income families have heard roughly 30-million fewer words than their
more affluent peers, leaving many Californian children pre-destined for
success or failure before they enter kindergarten," Senator Steinberg
said. "First 5 California's media campaign delivers this important
message into homes statewide. It is imperative that California mirrors
their media outreach by providing early learning opportunities, which is
exactly what we're proposing this year through the Pre-K and Strong
Start bills that are currently in the Senate."
"If we invest in children early we can close the achievement gap before
it starts. This study reinforces what we already know and gives us
actionable steps to do so. I commend First 5 California for their
service to our state and join them in encouraging all Californians to
talk, sing, and read to the little ones in their lives," said Sen. Carol
Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge and Chair of the Senate Education Committee.
"From my time as the Director of the UC Davis Pediatric Residency
Program, as a First 5 Commissioner for Sacramento County, to now being a
parent myself, I have both studid and seen firsthand how interacting
with children helps them to grow and develop with positive results,"
said Assemblymember Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). "I am proud to be
standing by First 5 California, the important research they are
conducting, and their efforts to share this information with all
Californians so that we can work together to develop the minds of our
First 5 California unveiled a fully integrated campaign including
television commercials, radio ads, digital ads and a powerful parent's
website. The two 30-second television commercials and website updates
began airing on Thursday, March 13. The commercials are geared toward
parents, encouraging them to talk, read and sing to their children in
order to stimulate brain development in the first years of their child's
life. Ads were created and produced by Fraser Communications.
In one of First 5 California's new commercials, the announcer states,
"The moment babies are born, their brains are forming the connections
that determine how they learn, think, and grow. Talk and read to your
children from day one. Their brains are developing with your every word.
It's free and easy and something you can do any time. Talk. Read. Sing."
Another First 5 California commercial highlights the effects of brain
development on a child's future, "Babies who are talked to from the time
they're born are more likely to have a successful future. Talking and
reading to children in their first years has a high impact on what they
do with the rest of their lives. The fewer words they hear the greater
their chances of dropping out of school and getting into trouble."
"As a former teacher, I have seen firsthand in the classroom how
important parents' participation in their child's education can be to
the success of the child," said Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva
(D-Fullerton). "However, we need to start earlier than that. We must
educate parents about these benefits in order to enable a brighter
future for our children."
The First 5 California parent website has also been updated to share
vital information and links regarding early childhood brain development.
The website also helps dispel common myths about parenting (such as
parents needing to buy expensive educational toys and DVDs to help their
The parent website can be found at www.first5california.com/parents.
"Talking, reading and singing are easy and free," said First 5
California Executive Director Camille Maben. "But by increasing their
vocabularies and setting up greater chances that they stay in school,
parents can actually give their children a million dollar gift in terms
of greater lifetime earnings."
"I would like to commend First 5 for helping empower parents to help
stimulate their children's minds through simple everyday activities,"
said Assemblymember Shirley Weber, "Talking, reading and singing to
babies and toddlers is something parents can do at any time."
Links to First 5 California TV Commercials
Links to Key Brain Development Research
About First 5 California
First 5 California, also known as the California Children and
Families Commission, was established after voters passed Proposition 10
in November 1998, which added a tax on tobacco products to fund
education, health, childcare and other services for children ages 0-5
and their families. Its programs and resources are designed to educate
teachers, parents, grandparents, and caregivers about the critical role
they play during a child's first five years -with the overarching goal
of helping more California kids grow up healthy and ready to succeed in
school and in life. For more information please visit www.first5california.com/parents.
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