Talk. Read. Sing.

“When you TALK, READ and SING, with children from birth, you fill their brains with words and thoughts that make all the difference to their happiness and their future.”

To pick up your babies when they cry or to not pick up your babies?

That is the question, and the answer is: without hesitation, pick up! Intrinsically, we’ve known this all along, but “old school” science has suggested that too much attention spoils our babies. Now we know conclusively: not true.

Research published by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child has scientifically demonstrated that not only is interacting with your child as much as possible in the first 100 days of their life crucial to neurological development, but positive interaction – such as talking, reading and singing – with your unborn baby builds billions of neuron connections that will stay with that child for life. Conversely, too little interaction in the first few years of life leads the brain to actually “purge” neurons, causing developmental harm to children.

Studies also show that children develop either positive or negative presumptions about the world they live in during their first few years of life, based largely on their early interactions. Children who receive too little interaction don’t feel safe and can develop “presumptive negativity,” which leads to complex social-emotional challenges that are hard to undo. The simple act of “serve and return” interactions between parents and babies – conceptualized by researchers at Harvard University – makes all the difference!

When an adult responds positively to a crying or babbling baby, neural connections are formed that strengthen communication and help the child develop a “presumption” that the world is a safe, positive place.

It is a shocking fact that pre-school children are more than three times as likely to be expelled from school as grade-level children. This is extremely troubling, because the formative pre-school years are critical for determining children’s long-term success. In fact, children who are expelled at this age are overwhelmingly more likely than their peers to experience negative outcomes throughout their lives, including prison.

But, there is hope! Today, researchers are able to tell us with 80 percent accuracy within the first 100 days of a child’s life, whether they are on a trajectory to face negative outcomes at their three- and five-year milestones. Combined with research that shows incredibly effective early interventions, we CAN make sure that every child is set up for safety and success.

Fast forward to today: Healthcare CEO and author of Three Key Years (a free digital book for parents), Dr. George Halvorson, is creating a parenting paradigm shift, working to make sure every parent knows how to give their child the gift of a strong start in life by talking, reading, and singing to them early. Together with Dr. Halvorson, the Too Small to Fail Foundation, and our partner agencies, we are proud to lead Tampa in launching the Talk Read Sing Community Campaign.

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