Ralph Nader on Early Childhood Education.

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When Ralph Nader visited Atlanta I shared our pilot programs for new moms, now named Educare, with him over a coffee.

Here are some of Nader’s thoughts regarding parents’ involvement in early childhood education. 

Nader believes education is clearly a significant factor in enhancing the future of impoverished children. Education levels bear heavily on efforts to bring families out of poverty and in providing livable wages for low and moderate and middle-income families.

Nader is adamant, “We need to invest in the nation’s children. We must assure an adequate safety net, health care, higher quality and more plentiful child care and vastly better educational opportunities, particularly as early as Kindergarten.” 

Parental responsibility should be encouraged by finding ways to help support parents in their efforts to help support their children as more families confront economic conditions demanding a greater deal of time be spent away from home. Parents should be as involved as possible in their children’s education; values do start with parents.

We both believe that early parental involvement is a way in which elementary education can be changed to make a real difference in the lives of our children.

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Language Nutrition

Just as healthy food nourishes a growing baby’s body, language nutrition nourishes a baby’s brain. Quantity and quality of nourishing language, like healthy food, is critical to brain development.

Language-rich adult-child interactions, beginning at birth, have a direct impact on social-emotional and cognitive development and language and literacy ability.

The impact of adult-child interactions on the brains of infants and toddlers is unparalleled by any other stage of development, as this is the time when they are forming the neural “connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all learning, behavior and health depend” (Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University).

cropped-screen-shot-2018-04-05-at-7-21-50-am1.pngA solid foundation of language nutrition – the use of language, beginning at birth, that is sufficiently rich in engagement, quality, quantity and context that it nourishes the child socially, neurologically and linguistically – is critical in developing a child’s capacity to learn.

Language Nutrition™ – A Public Health and Education Imperative

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Just as healthy food nourishes a growing baby’s body, language nutrition nourishes a baby’s brain. Quantity and quality of nourishing language, like healthy food, is critical to brain development.

Language-rich adult-child interactions, beginning at birth, have a direct impact on social-emotional and cognitive development and language and literacy ability.

The impact of adult-child interactions on the brains of infants and toddlers is unparalleled by any other stage of development, as this is the time when they are forming the neural “connections that build brain architecture – the foundation upon which all learning, behavior and health depend” (Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University). 

And a solid foundation of language nutrition – the use of language, beginning at birth, that is sufficiently rich in engagement, quality, quantity and context that it nourishes the child socially, neurologically and linguistically – is critical in developing a child’s capacity to learn.  

GoMo Health, a leading population health management company, and Empowered Education a company that secializes in childhood development announces the launch of EduCare, an interactive program designed to promote early childhood literacy, learning, health, and wellness for families, caregivers and children ages 0-8 years old.

EduCare is a market-ready program with content developed by expert health care providers, educators, and behavioral scientists. Brain development through literacy is the most powerful tool in defining a child’s future success in school and life, and literacy development begins in the earliest months of a baby’s life, preparing them for a formal educational environment.

EduCare is available to moms and caregivers, delivering age-appropriate content and activities that coincide with baby’s birth date. Content includes health and literacy resources correlated to key growth and development milestones that guide them through early childhood development.

 

The trajectory of a child’s life can be changed if parents know how to deliver “Language Nutrition.”

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An alarming number of  children—about 67 percent nationwide and more than 80 percent of those from low-income families—are not proficient readers by the end of third grade.  This has significant and long-term consequences not only for each of those children but for their communities, and for our nation as a whole. If left unchecked, this problem will undermine efforts to end intergenerational poverty, close the achievement gap, and reduce high school dropout rates.  Far fewer of the next generation will be prepared to succeed in a global economy, participate in higher education, or enter military and civilian service.

EduCare was created to help reverse this potentially catastrophic trend by delivering common-sense solutions at the federal, state, and local levels.

EduCare is an interactive program that delivers personalized guidance to women and caregivers throughout their pregnancy and baby’s early childhood up to age 8. With no application to download, EduCare acts as a virtual coach for moms and families. The platform provides age-specific guidance to care for baby and encourage physical and emotional health and wellness, and “Language Nutrition” to support nurturing of literacy and brain development.

Early childhood development is our unifying goal; supporting community solutions to address lack of school readiness and helping parents succeed in their critical roles as first teachers and best advocates.

Educare Screen

Nuture young readers by bringing books to life.

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Most parents know that reading bedtime stories to preschoolers is key to developing early literacy. But new research with low-income children by psychologists suggests it takes more than nightly reading to foster a child’s future reading success.

Parents, teachers and others who read to children must also engage young children with lively, enthusiastic recitations that bring characters and plots to life, and pose open-ended questions that spark children’s comprehension, vocabulary and interest.

Such reading-aloud extras, say researchers, are as important as regular teeth-brushing for children ages 4 and 5 because they can be the difference between a child who picks up reading easily and one who struggles when he or she reaches kindergarten.

“Everyone feels like they know how to read a book to children,” says Karen Stoiber, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, who directs the EMERGE project, a reading intervention she’s conducting with Milwaukee’s Head Start program. But in reality, many parents and teachers need coaching on how to ask questions as they go along to emphasize rhyming and to teach children how to follow words on the page.

Numerous studies over the last decade show that such strategies are vital for boosting low-income children’s vocabularies, language development, sound awareness and letter recognition abilities—all building blocks for early literacy. According to National Center for Education Statistics data, only 20 percent of 4-year-olds in poverty can recognize all 26 letters, compared with 37 percent of their peers at or above the poverty level.

Stoiber and other psychologists are including such coaching as part of interventions proven to improve pre-reading skills among low-income preschoolers. One of the best ways to boost these children’s literacy is by helping teachers and parents maximize the time they spend reading with their children, says Jorge E. Gonzalez, PhD, of Texas A&M University, a U.S. Department of Education-funded researcher who studies oral language and literacy development.

“Children who start school with a poor vocabulary rarely catch up,” says Gonzalez. “The bottom line is there is not a lot of room for error on this issue.”

Companion Care Prenatal and Perinatal Mothers Support Program

Screen shot 2018-05-26 at 4.23.14 PMThe trajectory of children’s lives can be changed if parents understand the primacy of language and know how to deliver “Language Nutrition.”

Research funded by United Way has revealed that many children lack access to quality health care, housing, nutrition, early care, learning services and support. Far too many children also experience the trauma of stress and violence in their homes and neighborhoods, inhibiting their ability to learn and grow.

We also determined that efforts to change long-term literacy outcomes and consequences must begin early—long before children enter kindergarten.

We looked at some of the root causes for why a child might not be reading. This exploration encompassed early brain development and the power of verbal interactions with infants and toddlers, attendance in preschool and grade school, summer learning loss, and the influence of health on all aspects of early learning and development.

In an effort to change literacy and health outcomes for children, Empowered Education launched a prenatal and perinatal companion support program that delivers a virtual “owners manual” for new moms and babies. The new mothers are enrolled in the program when they leave the hospital, at their OBGYN’s offices, and at pediatricians’ offices.

Delivered on both mobile phones and Empowered Education’s tablet devices, the HIPAA compliant platform offers helpful content about health and “Language Nutrition.”