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First 5 Santa Barbara Urges Parents to Talk, Read, Sing to Children

Book fairs helped kick off the First 5 early education campaign.
Book fairs helped kick off the First 5 early education campaign.

Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing, a community-wide campaign with First 5 California aimed at boosting early brain development and language skills of children through age five in Santa Barbara County, runs Oct. 8-Nov. 30.

The second annual First 5 Santa Barbara County campaign has support from partners including community leaders, family resource centers, and child-care providers involved in the Quality Rating and Improvement Systems.

It also is a promotion from Too Small to Fail, a national, joint initiative of the Opportunity Institute and the Clinton Foundation.

This year, 101 child-care providers and family resource centers will participate, up from 45 in 2017. Collectively, the campaign is expected to provide resources to 4,000 families in the county.

The drive encourages parents and caregivers to talk, read and sing more with their young children starting at birth.

Almost 60 percent of American children start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, math and social-emotional skills.

Research shows that simple, everyday interactions with young children, such as describing objects seen on a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories can build their vocabulary, prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning.

Each day for eight weeks, tips and simple activities are posted on Facebook to help parents engage with the weekly themes.

The campaign partners with trusted messengers to share information with parents and caregivers about the critical role they play in their children’s early brain development.

These community partners will distribute Talking is Teaching materials directly to families.

First 5 Santa Barbara County launched the campaign Oct. 6 with two book fairs hosted in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO), Santa Barbara Child Care Planning Council, and Children’s Resource and Referral of Santa Barbara County.

“The Santa Barbara County Education Office is pleased to be able to partner with First 5 Santa Barbara County on the 2018 Talk, Read & Sing Campaign,” said Joyce Stone, coordinator of the Santa Barbara Child Care Planning Council at SBCEO.

“Through one of our grants, we were able to purchase books for state preschool programs that were distributed at the book fair on Oct. 6. Programs that participate also will receive books from First 5 for the families they serve,” she said.

Stone said there is a wealth of research showing how important it is for parents, caregivers and teachers to build young children’s brain power and create strong bonds with them by talking, reading and singing at every opportunity.

“We applaud First 5 for their efforts, and appreciate being able to support this effort,” Stone said.

More than 101 local child-care providers attended the fairs in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria.

Each provider received $60-$100 credit depending on their commitment level, and selected 12-30 books in English and/or Spanish to strengthen the libraries at their home- or center-based child care facility.

More than $10,000 worth of books were distributed as a thank-you to the providers for encouraging parents to take the pledge and participate in more talking, reading, and singing at home.

Another key partner in the campaign is Children’s Resource and Referral of Santa Barbara County.

“Talking and singing to children is free and something all parents and child care providers can engage in,” said Jacqui Banta, program director.

“At Children’s Resource and Referral, we know child care providers understand the importance of kindergarten readiness and that the word gap leads to an achievement gap,” she said.

“We encourage families and providers that starting today helps their children and it’s as easy as smiling, talking, singing and reading,” she said.

“Children’s Resource and Referral has more than 200 books (including bilingual) that anyone in the community may rent free of charge,” Banta said.

“I know how important it is for children to be able to see themselves in stories, which is why I was so impressed with the variety of genres and titles from which to choose from at the Book Fair,” said Kaleigh Williams, director of KinderKirk Preschool of Carpinteria.

“I chose stories that celebrate and reflect our children and their lives — stories about adoption, new siblings, divorce and family celebrations,” she said.

“Together with First 5, KinderKirk Preschool hopes to educate our families on the wonder of books, the joy of learning and how valuable it is to talk, read, sing. It really can change everything,” Williams said.

First 5 Santa Barbara hopes to transform everyday places where families spend time together into language-rich environments. A communitywide multi-media campaign will reinforce these messages via bus ads and paid media spots.

Families wishing to participate may take the pledge online at http://first5santabarbaracounty.org/trs/#Take-the-Pledge to receive a book to read together and an eight-week parent workbook filled with tips and ideas of how to easily incorporate talking, reading, and singing into daily habits.

This year, First 5 Santa Barbara County celebrates 20 years of supporting children and families. Literacy has been a key pillar of the organization’s work.

For more information, go to www.first5sbc.org/trs, visit the First 5 FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/F5SBC/ or call 805-560-1039.

First 5 Santa Barbara County Children and Families Commission, funded by Proposition 10, works in partnership with individuals and organizations it the county to support the health, early learning and well-being of children prenatal to age 5, and their families.

— Katie Torres for First 5 California.

 

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