Everyone needs to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood brain development
By Adrienne Bell
August 21, 2019
A few facts to consider …
- In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second
- 15 minutes of play can spark thousands of connections in a baby’s brain
- Every experience that a young child has – story time at the library, going down the slide at the park, playing with toys during bath time – will impact her brain development
The first three years of a child’s life are a period of intense growth and development. During this time, foundational brain architecture is established, and early experiences affect how children learn and develop well beyond these formative years. Positive and nurturing relationships with adults, exposure to enriching learning opportunities, access to nutritious food and living in safe neighborhoods all contribute to and impact healthy brain development.
My daughter will be turning four next month, which has had me reflecting on the first three years of her life. As a first-time parent, I saw her rapid growth and development first-hand. How each day my daughter learned and picked up something new just from her interactions and all she was taking in in the world. I realized, despite having a background of working on child development issues, that I hadn’t fully understood the urgency of the situation. If you’re a parent, you know what I’m saying.
But that’s the thing about parenting – until you are a parent, you have no idea how amazing it is, how hard it is, how much love you have, how much worry you have. You have no idea how quickly they learn and pick things up or the number of times you’ll wonder, I thought I would have more time to figure that out before she got to this stage! You know those stages – when they start to become picky eaters, potty training, the WHY? stage (a game that we currently play for hours, at times).
Being responsible for the brain development of a child can be difficult. It can be even more difficult when you feel you’re solely responsible – especially during those first few years, when there’s never enough sleep at night or hours in the day – and everything is intensified.
Parents shouldn’t have to do it alone. There are things that we can do, as a community, to support families with young children; and there are changes that the state must make, on a systems-level, to improve the lives of babies, toddlers and their families in California.
This week we launched Talk the Tot, a new campaign focused on educating the public about the first few years of life, early brain development and the supports that all young families need.
The campaign consists of three phases:
- Raising Awareness (Learn) – Throughout August and September, we’ll share statistics and key facts about early childhood brain and social-emotional development.
- Soliciting Engagement (Share) – Beginning in October, we’ll ask our community of advocates, partners, key stakeholders and social media followers to share stories about their own children, support they needed in the early years, and challenges they have faced as parents, caregivers, or child care providers.
- Take Action (Join) – During this final phase, we’ll highlight key issues that impact babies and toddlers, including home visiting and affordable, quality child care, and what you can do to help expand supports and services for families with young children.
We want to inspire all individuals, not just the parents and caregivers of young children, to “Talk the Tot” and share with their friends, family members, and social media followers the importance of supporting babies, toddlers and their families in the early years. By coming together as a unified voice, we can make a difference in the lives of children all over California.
Help us start the conversation – take the pledge today!
Adrienne Bell oversees the organization’s growth strategy and leads the digital and offline communications strategies for the organization. Prior to joining the Children Now, Ms. Bell was the Communications Director for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, a member-driven, grassroots advocacy organization for family farmers and rural communities. Previously, she served as a grant writer and program specialist for the South Madison Health and Family Center, a collaboration of non-profit organizations that provided services to low-income families of color to reduce the high infant mortality rate among Black infants in South Madison. During that time, Ms. Bell also managed special projects and events for the Simpson Street Free Press, an after-school writing program for middle and high school students in South Madison. Ms. Bell also worked in advertising for the local news station, WEUX and WLAX. Ms. Bell graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a BA in Sociology and Social Welfare, where she served as the news editor of The Daily Cardinal and worked as a stringer for TIME Magazine.