Prematurity takes a high toll on families, and imposes high costs to society. More babies die each year from causes related to prematurity than from any other single cause, and children born prematurely are much more likely to require extended hospital stays, and they run much higher risks of long-term health problems.
Research to Policy is our monthly publication that attempts to take our beliefs on early childhood development through three stages: research (scientific evidence), practice (personal experiences), and policy (community-adopted change) in order to raise the number of children who beat the odds in Memphis and strengthen our shared future as a community.
When we speak about kindergarten readiness, we often prioritize the critical cognitive skills, like simple memorization or early steps of math. These cognitive skills often overshadow basic social and emotional skills like knowing appropriate classroom behaviors, or demonstrating basic interpersonal skills.
One of my first memories is of my mother putting on the soundtrack to Cats the musical. My siblings and I would crawl and climb around the house, pretending to be cats. It was a simple, silly activity, but it got us moving and using our imaginations. It also tired us out just in time for a nap. Physical health is vital to optimal early childhood development.
The Urban Child Institute recently launched its Baby Small campaign, offering a big idea: we can improve the future of our community through small, smart decisions and actions that promote optimal early childhood brain development. Baby Small reminds us that the first years of life are a period of both extraordinary development and extraordinary opportunity. Babies' brains develop in response to their environments.
Today, your toddler feels left behind as their older brothers and sisters set out for school. But soon enough, they will be new kindergarteners! There is much that we as parents and caretakers can do right now to help them get ready. Early childhood social, emotional, and cognitive brain development is already establishing the foundation for their kindergarten readiness, and pathway to success in school and life.
As a brand new school year starts across Shelby County, almost 15,000 five-year-olds will venture into kindergarten for the very first time. Our best estimates tell us that about half of these children will reach kindergarten with strong cognitive, social, and emotional foundations, setting them on a pathway to success both in school and later in life.
There’s an old saying that “play is the work of childhood,” and this issue of Research to Policy looks at the ways in which play works to shape the developing brains of young children in Memphis. Research shows us that play supports early brain development in impressive ways. Through play, young children learn about the world around them.