David Miller and Jackson Williams (203954)

Talk. Read. Sing to your child for a smarter and happier baby.

I am David Miller, COO for Our Weekly newspaper. I take the time to talk, read and sing to my nephew Jackson, to make sure the first five years of his life are enriched by boosting his brain development and ability to learn.

I know how important these first five years are. They are the time when imprinting occurs. It’s the time of the fastest brain development.

Science has shown that there are trillions of brain-cell connections, called neural synapses that form in the brain during the first few years of a baby’s life. Synapses that do not “connect” a baby’s brain through early experiences, interactions and stimulation are unfortunately lost, and they don’t come back.

Research tells us that a child’s most intensive period for absorbing speech and language skills is during the first three years of life. These skills develop best in a world that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to speech.

When children are read to, their brains build the neural connections that enable them to learn vocabulary. When adults and children read a favorite book again and again, connections in the child’s brain become stronger and more complex. Every time you read to your child, his or her brain makes connections and grows stronger, just like a muscle would through physical activity.”

Further, singing and music can have a positive effect on a child’s mood and strengthen certain thinking skills.

In the first years of a child’s life, from birth to five years old, 90 percent of the brain develops. Simply by talking, reading and singing, you’re helping to build connections in the brain that will be a positive impact in your child’s life forever.

Statistics from a Harvard University study has shown that the roots of children’s academic achievement gaps start long before children enter kindergarten. A major indicator for a child’s success in school is language and early literacy development, strongly suggesting that children who have been read to or talked to on a regular basis are less likely to drop out of school.

I fondly recall when my parents would talk, read and/or sing to me building my curiosity and eagerness to learn, a foundation for learning that has guided me through my studies and ultimately my career. As a matter of fact, the first book I remember hearing read to me was “Dick and Jane” by William S. Gray and Zerna Sharp.

Join us at Our Weekly newspaper in partnership with First 5 California to be a part of The TALK.READ.SING. It changes everything, the first in a series of multi-generational campaigns. They kicked off this aspect of the effort with our media, because of the critical role we play in educating, informing and championing our community and the importance of passing this legacy on to the next generation.

If you are a parent, grandparent or caregiver to a young child, you are your child’s first teacher and you play an active role in your child’s brain development. Take this valuable time in your child’s life to talk, read and sing. Here’s a thought, take our newspaper and read your favorite section to your child. Or read cookbooks out loud, share your favorite bible verse, sing the alphabet, name colors, read stories that pass on our history to preserve our traditions. All of this helps. And, we know how important it is to give our children every advantage possible while building stronger neighborhoods.

To participate in this campaign, send in a photo of you talking, reading or singing to your infant or child up to age 5 and email it to us at editor@ourweekly.com, we will use your photo as part of a collage of our readership. The photo will appear in a future edition of the newspaper and will also be on the First 5 California website.

First 5 California funds programs that educate parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers about the critical role they play during a child’s first five years.

See more at: first5california.com/parents