The Science of Childhood: Inside the Minds of Our Younger Selves, is a Time magazine special edition. It examines everything from understanding child development and dealing with temper tantrums to the science of play and the secrets of birth order. It’s part of an effort to help parents and other caregivers better understand how children learn and what everyone can do to help children thrive.
Since 2015, the Early Childhood Coalition, which consists of 30 organizations, has been working through the local 2.0 initiative. Its goal is to ensure that everyone in the greater Chattanooga area can access high quality resources that support optimal development of children birth-5. The plan is to engage and mobilize the community through advocacy, communication and education so that all children can achieve their potential and live their best lives.
For example, Chattanooga Basics is one of the coalition's initiatives. This initiative is built upon the reality that parents play the most critical role in providing a strong and healthy start for infants and young children. Chattanooga Basics is closely aligned with Boston Basics, which was developed out of Harvard.
The goals for the Basics are to help ensure that:
- 80 percent of children show up to school ready to learn.
- Every parent has access to information about how to help their child thrive.
- Every parent knows about the Chattanooga Basics, teaching them creative ways to engage their child.
- Parents have the necessary support to be the parent their child needs them to be.
The Early Childhood Coalition wants all community members to know the Five Basics so they can help all children to thrive. The Coalition is calling on everyone to learn the Five Basics and to engage children in conversations around them. The reason is simple: While parents are their child’s first teacher, the entire community can rally around them to assist them in their efforts.
The Five Basics are:
- Maximize Love, Manage Stress - Babies thrive when the world feels loving, safe and predictable. Affectionate and responsive caregiving develops a sense of security and self-control.
- Talk, Sing Point - Babies learn language from the moment they are born. They learn through loving interactions with their caregivers, not televisions or phones instead. Eye contact, pointing and real words teach the most about communication.
- Count, Group, and Compare - Children are born wired to learn numbers, patterns, sizes, shapes and comparisons. What they learn about math in the first few years makes a difference when they get to school.
- Explore Through Movement and Play - Children are born curious about the world. They are like scientists. Pay attention to your infant’s or toddler’s interests. Help them learn through play and exploration.
- Read and Discuss Stories - The more we read with young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and do well in school. Even infants enjoy the shapes and colors in books, so let them hold the book and turn the pages. Point to the pictures and talk about what you see.
You may be part of a faith-based community, a child-care provider, a human resources executive or a company CEO. Or perhaps you are the neighbor next door or a relative or friend. Either way, you can help prepare the children in our community for kindergarten.
A September 2017 report showed Hamilton County schools received the lowest possible composite score on an annual state student-growth assessment. While it would be easy to place blame on entities, perhaps the best thing our community can do is to intentionally engage parents and assist them in building strong, healthy families. By resolving to help children thrive and show up to school ready to learn, the scores will improve.
To learn more about Chattanooga Basics, the Early Childhood Coalition partners and what you can do to help, visit chattanoogabasics.org.