It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally closing the gap in educational inequality. Recent articles in both the NYTIMES and the LATIMES announced that the data is very encouraging: “Children entering kindergarten today are more equally prepared than they were in the late 1990’s.”
The authors note that it’s not because the education level for high income families has fallen, but because a single idea has started to take hold: that the first years of a child’s life are vital in brain development.
Of course, you say? Well, it hasn’t always been this way.
Less than a century ago, it was considered that intellectual stimulation of babies was harmful, and ideas, once planted, are hard to uproot. First 5 California and Fraser Communications have been at this uprooting for over eight years now, and our campaign- Talk. Read. Sing. It Changes Everything© is a pure expression of this effort.
Fraser has conducted over fifty focus groups on this subject with low income Hispanic and African American families. Findings reveal just how difficult it was for these families and single parents to devote the time necessary to engage their children in the critical activities that would lead to strengthening their children’s brains, prepare them to enter pre-school, and prevent them from falling behind by the third grade. In realizing these difficulties, we knew we had to make the effort sound simple, and so we reduced it to the three pillars of parental activity: Talking with your child, reading with your child, and singing with your child. These activities are powerful in helping to increase vocabularies and just as importantly, self-confidence.
And it’s working.
As the LATIMES article notes, “…skills that kids have when they enter kindergarten can be very predictive of how they’ll progress through school.” We knew that if these kids aren’t prepared, kindergarten could not reverse what wasn’t done with these children in their first 3 years of life.
The stakes are huge. Kids who fall behind in school increase their chances of dropping out. They wind up getting into trouble, filling our jails and mean streets and costing society billions. Business leaders worry that an educated workforce will not be available to meet their future needs. The income gap will increase more than it already has. This is the result of neglect and antiquated ideas. The new and ongoing early brain research and the subsequent awareness of this learning is helping reverse the trend.
These are deep societal risks, dangerous ones, and the campaign and outreach First 5 California and Fraser Communications continues to do is chipping away at these risks and closing the educational gap between rich and poor. Our Talk. Read. Sing. © effort has lead to, “The pattern of parents increasing their support for learning…”
And now the work begins again.
Implementing new tools and tips, organizing community activities and outreach programs, creating uplifting and empowering communications, creating a movement, a mantra, changing behaviors, empowering parents, enriching our kids, and yes, making the world a better place.
Rarely do you have a chance to make a big, meaningful and timely societal impact in the “advertising” business. But with First 5 California, Fraser Communications is doing just that, and the feeling is wonderful.
Click on some of the commercials we’ve done for the effort below.