Baby Brain Connection

Baby Brain Connection
Parenting for Early Childhood Literacy

 Baby Brain Connection: Parenting for Early Childhood Literacy, a special project of the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education, is a train the trainer model for 1) Parent Providers and 2) Parents of babies and toddlers that provides background information about Early Brain Development and ideas and activities for Talking, Playing & Interacting, and Reading

Emerging data on infants’ and toddlers’ brain developments show: 1) the timing and quality of early experiences have a strong influence in shaping brain architecture and 2) the 1st year of life is a critical period in promoting early language skills and increasing readiness for learning and achievement at preschool and kindergarten.  Thus, there is need to focus on developing literacy for infants and toddlers in their first year of life when their brains are developing at a rapid rate.

We give new parents all kinds of strategies for feeding, changing diapers, putting babies to sleep. Why aren’t we giving them very important strategies for how to talk to their babies and strategies for fostering literacy like how to play and interact and read to their children?

There are many organizations that serve parents and their children in their early years. Materials found on the website and included in train the trainer workshops focus on the 1st year of life and include modeling and coaching strategies for parent providers as well as the parents they serve: 

    • free training guides for 1) Parent Providers and 2) Parents that provide background information about Early Brain Development and ideas and activities for Talking, Playing & Interacting, and Reading. Suggestions for training are also included.
    • links for a series of video vignettes about early childhood literacy strategies for talking, playing and interacting, and reading that are amusing and feature real people who are engaged in real life situations. Additional talking points and early literacy activities for each video are also provided. ​

The materials can complement existing activities or be adapted for any organization such as a local health clinic, early childhood provider, or parent workshop. All materials for interested organizations and individuals are available for universal access without charge.  For further information, including content for downloading or copying, contact the  the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Our goal is better prepare children for learning when they enter preschool or kindergarten. Based on visits to schools around the U.S., Goldin Foundation educators see huge issues regarding readiness to learn even with lots of intervention. The target audience is “Parent Providers,” those who directly work with parents in existing local, regional, and national organizations.  We do this by facilitating a discussion with them using some new approaches. 

Starting in 1990, The Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education has had long experience in recognizing outstanding educators for their outstanding contributions to classrooms, schools, and communities; and it currently works with 85 school districts across the country. In 2016-2017 the focus is Goldin Foundation Exemplary Projects Awards: recognition awards to projects of excellence that have been in existence for a minimum of 3 full years and have potential for replication and/or adaptation.        

The Foundation believes that the data on early brain development is so compelling that parents must be provided with encouragement, support, and activities to foster children’s literacy skills long before they enter school. This new emphasis on early childhood literacy development when babies’ brains are developing at a rapid rate might just help change the paradigm for enhancing school readiness, increasing academic performance and bridging the achievement gap.

This special program sponsored by the Goldin Foundation has been in existence since 2013.  Many workshops have been provided by Goldin Foundation educators to parents and parent providers in MA, TX, and CA.  Materials on the website have been accessed by parents, parent providers, and educators in K-12 school districts. 

Audiences served
Babies and Toddlers: birth to age 2

Educators and researchers involved with compiling and writing the Parenting for Early Childhood Literacy Guides

Parents and caretakers of infants and toddlers at home, hospital, health clinic, or in daycare centers

Parent Providers:  Parent Providers are professionals and/or paraprofessionals who support parents in caring for their babies. Their role is extremely important because they have contact with parents long before a child goes to preschool or kindergarten. School systems do not come into contact with many parents until much beyond the critical first year of a child’s life. Thus, it is the parent providers who can help parents provide rich stimulation for their babies during this early period. Parent Providers can help parents by 1) giving them the message that there is rapid brain development that occurs during their baby’s 1st year of life and they can help this growth and 2) encouraging parents by sharing the videos and activities for “Talking,” Playing & Interacting,” and “Reading” found in Baby Brain Connection: Parent Providers Guide for the 1st Year. 

Parent Providers can include:

  •           pediatricians and support staff in healthcare clinics
  • pediatricians and support staff in hospitals 
  • home visitors 
  • facilitators of prenatal and post-natal parenting workshops
  • midwives
  • teachers in early childhood centers
  • teachers in daycare centers
  • administrators and teachers in elementary schools (where parents might also have young children)
  • facilitators of teen pregnancy programs
  • other…………….

Successful impact
Daycare, preschool and K-12 education teachers, home visitors, and parents have received direct training via the workshops.  Lectures on the topic have been provided by the President of the Foundation at regional Goldin Foundation Educator Forums in MA, TX, and CA to audiences of teachers, administrators, parents, and students. National groups including Reach Out and Read and Parent-Child Home Program have been involved in conversations about the importance of early literacy and have made changes to their programs.  The website has been used by many visitors.

Children are the ultimate recipients of the efforts of their parents and parent providers. According to research, they will be better prepared to learn when they attend preschool and kindergarten, and they will have greater achievement during their school years and later lives as well. 

Baby Brain Connection: Parenting for Early Childhood Literacy is research-based. The project is based on needs evidenced during visits to schools throughout the U.S., and it is designed by educators recognized for excellence.

Recommendations for replication and/or adaptation
Costs:  Essentially there are no start-up costs, just a very willing volunteer facilitator to start the process of working with parents and parent providers in a school district, town, or regional area. This process could also be handled by a college intern. All material on the website is free for downloading including the workshop format, workshop script, videos, and Parent and Parent Provider Guides. Other materials including articles about the importance of early literacy development, workshop summaries in English/Spanish/Portuguese, and follow up discussion scripts are also available from the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education. 

Workshop for parent providers:   Several suggestions for a workshop include:

  • Size: 10-20 people who are caring for babies, birth-12 months (the workshop is designed to be interactive, so there should not be a large group)
  • Internet connection with no fire walls
  • A room with a projector that connects with a computer 
  • Copies of a 1 page (2-sided) handout (available from the Goldin Foundation in English, Spanish, or Portuguese)
  • Snacks for the participants (optional) We find this helps people enjoy the session more!
  • Provide follow-up discussions:   Professional development is not a 1 time exposure.  It is highly recommended that workshop participants have a follow-up 15-20 discussion at a regular meeting time or special session a month or two later. It can be facilitated by one of the participants. The Goldin Foundation has a follow up script for this session along with some “questions to think about” and suggested readings to take place beforehand.  

Working and communicating with parents: All or any of the information on the website is designed to be imparted to parents over time. We suggest constant reminders to parents with 1 – 2 strategies, and we stress the importance of literacy during the 1st year of life.

The videos can even be shared 1:1 on a smartphone that has internet access using the website with a follow up discussion. For example: home visits, conversations at a well-baby clinic or daycare center.

A daycare or early childhood center could have a theme per month to promote talking, interacting, playing, or reading.

Videos on the website are accessible for free. There are additional videos for different stages of a baby’s 1st and 2nd year. Here is the website address for ordering the DVD “Making Everyday Moments Count.”  It also comes in Spanish and costs $9.99.

Contact Information

Harriet Goldin, President of Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education.