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Talk, Read, Sing It, Baby

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PHOTO: In the wake of compelling research on the importance of early brain development for children ages 0-5, First 5 California is launching a new statewide media campaign encouraging parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing to babies and toddlers. Photo courtesy First 5 California.
PHOTO: In the wake of compelling research on the importance of early brain development for children ages 0-5, First 5 California is launching a new statewide media campaign encouraging parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing to babies and toddlers. Photo courtesy First 5 California.
 By Lori AbbottContact
March 14, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Reading a bedtime story or singing a lullaby can do more than help put a child to sleep.

Research shows talking, reading and singing to babies in their first years of life can have an extremely powerful impact on their development.

First 5 California is launching a statewide campaign to encourage parents and caregivers to help exercise their child's brain.

George Halvorson, chairman of the First 5 California Children and Families Commission, says the first three years of life make a huge difference in the brain development of a child.

"The brains are stronger, more effective,” he explains. “The children who get that kind of exercise end up with larger vocabularies when they get to kindergarten.

“They're better able to read. They're better able to function in the school system.”

These types of interactions also have social and emotional advantages for children.

Halvorson explains that without those linguistic skills and attachments to caring adults, research shows children are less ready to participate in and benefit from school.

Studies also show the vast majority of children who are behind in kindergarten will never catch up, which Halvorson says may lead to other problems.

"The children who can't read are 40 percent more likely to drop out of school,” he says. “They're 60 percent more likely to get pregnant, and they're even 70 percent more likely to end up in prison.”

Halvorson also says brain scans of children who have had caregivers talk, read and sing to them regularly appear dramatically healthier compared to children who have not had that exposure.




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